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Say It With Me: The Giants Do Not Have "Momentum"

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Say It With Me: The Giants Do Not Have "Momentum"

It would seem our own Brian Carriveau has gotten caught up in the "Giants have momentum" meme that always happens when teams "get hot" toward the end of a season (yes, much like the Packers did last year.)

I'm sorry to have to break it to Brian, and anyone who thinks in a similar fashion, but the idea that teams can carry over any kind of "momentum" from game to game or through a stretch of games is a complete myth. A fabrication. A story told to children for them to believe in the "playoff momentum" fairy. (Alright - that's a bit much.)

I tend to agree with Mike Tanier here:

Since 2001, teams with a first-round bye are 25-15 (.625) in the second round of the playoffs. In gambling terms, 62.5 percent is as close as you will get to a “lock” in the NFL. The home team doesn’t always win, but it doesn’t spend the bye getting rusty and forgetting all the things that led to home-field advantage, either.

Upsets do happen, but they are often not that upsetting. Many are perpetrated by teams like this year’s Saints, obviously great teams that happen to end up with the third seed (and happen to be road favorites). Chasing “momentum” is dangerous, because teams that look hot in the opening round often get brutal reality therapy in the second.

Last year, the Ravens looked like the “hot” team after a 30-7 opening round win against the Chiefs. They went on to their usual playoff loss to the Steelers. The Cowboys and Ravens appeared scary after beating the Eagles and Patriots in 2009, but were outscored 54-6 in the second round.

You get the idea. There is no magical “momentum” at work. If you like the Saints this weekend, join the club, and the road dogs all have their selling points. Just make sure you pick a team because you like a matchup or are impressed with their strengths, not because they are “on a roll.”


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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (49) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

tony's picture

I could see it if it were in the NBA, MLB, or NHL, where you play the same team over and over, and can gain momentum against the same team. But not against a different team each week.

NoWayJose's picture

Thank you for the dose of sanity, Aaron. Can I also say that even if the playoff momentum fairy existed, I am seriously dubious that the Giants even have it?

The Falcons dropped an epic stink bomb last week and played totally uninspired. The other big wins making up this supposed momentum freight train are wins over the unimpressive Cowboys and Jets (with a lovely home loss the Redskins mixed in).

Overall, since the end of November, the Giants are playing decent ball, but the breathlessness in the media about their momentum is completely out of proportion to thier accomplishments.

Bearmeat's picture

Add in the fact that NYG have beaten no one good since early Nov. Beating down a receding Dallas team twice and NYJ and ATL (who has always been limited).

Let's all say it together: They have not done anything all that impressive.

Idiot Fan's picture

Well to be fair, they did come rather close to beating us.

Spiderpack's picture

I completely disagree. Stats may show that teams with the bye usually win, but saying that momentum is a myth is ridiculous & extremely reductionistic with regard to the human condition. Momentum is confidence which breeds better communication & more togetherness which in turn breeds quicker, sharper thinking, & decision making, & increased self-awareness, more adrenaline & peaked physical abilities. In addition REAL confidence is not locked away in an individual's mind, it is shared between people on a profound subconscious level. And there are many other levels & complex relations to what we refer to as momentum. I get what most of Mr. Tanier is saying, but rejecting momentum as "magic" just shows me he is ignorant to how it all works. No offense Nagler, I love most of what you post, but I'm sure glad McCarthy's our coach & not you or Mr. Tanier. When McCarthy says "Football is a game of confidence," he really means it. "We're nobody's underdog." "My job as head coach is to keep my finger on the pulse of this team." These are all statements intended to build momentum. The Packers are a great team because their leaders understand the nuances of how that all works. Otherwise they would underperform a lot of the time like the Giants have all year. For whatever reason, truth is the Giants, along with the Cardinals during Warner's period there, have an ability to gather up the troops & bring out their best come playoff time after having a mediocre regular season.

packeraaron's picture

<em>Momentum is confidence </em>

Actually, momentum is mass x velocity.

murphy's picture

For some reason I am now thinking about the physics of Hawk tackling Jacobs at the line for a 5 yard gain.

Chris's picture

This was my exact same thought!

norman's picture

Physics = Hawking, not Hawk

mark's picture

mass x velocity - ha, good one.

have the giants been playing good football? yes. but haven't the packers won 21 of their last 22 games played? yeah, i'd say that's pretty good too.

furthermore, and it's tough to predict how a locker room will react emotionally, but with tj lang losing his father and philbin his son, i could see a scenario where the team channels those very raw and difficult emotions and comes out on sunday ready to run through a concrete wall. i could also imagine another scenario where the team is unfocused with their heads and thoughts elsewhere, which would of course be very understandable given the circumstances. But if it were me, I wouldn't want to be playing this Packers team this weekend.

Going to be an emotional weekend. Proud of this team no matter what happens. Go Pack go.

Otto's picture

Hopefully, the team will channel these tragic circumstances like they did when Favre's father died.

Tarynfor 12's picture

Proof the defense missed all physics classes this season.

Pizzadoc's picture

"extremely reductionistic with regard to the human condition"

Wow. That sounds smart.

SpiderPack's picture

Oh, sorry Nagler, I thought we were talking football. The physics blog can be found elsewhere on the web-be glad to show you where as I have a graduate physical science degree. Or maybe your comment means you realize I'm right. Whatever the case, its silly &amp; juvenile to trivialize a sincerely contributing blogger. I am of course assuming your sense of humor is more creative than that. I made no attempt to say the Giants had momentum to win, just was challenging your oversimplification and reductionistic tendencies with regard to intangibles, they are only "intangibles" because we don't (on the whole as a culture) understand them. Knowing you, I just thought you'd have something more intelligent to add to this great blog. I used to think just like you about the whole momentum thing, but there's alot more going on between people than we realize.

Doc J's picture

This is a bunch of hogwash.

Confidence is important, but confidence and momentum are totally different. Momentum is a nebulous idea that claims because you were recently performing well you will continue to perform well. It's a simple logical fallacy.

The Giants "have momentum" because they have improved as a team over the past several weeks, got defensive (and offensive) pieces back from injury, and did not let themselves fall victim to uninspired late season play.

I am somewhere between Nagler and Brian on this. I think the Giants pose a serious threat this weekend because they matchup well. Overall the Packers are the better team and they should win. But as we know from statistics the team with the buy loses nearly 1 out of every 3 games in the divisional semifinals, it could be the Packers this year. That's football.

PackersRS's picture

I'm with #teamNagler.

38Special's picture

The Giants Do Not Have "Momentum"

Chad Toporski's picture

I think we're playing a game of semantics here.

When I have commented in various places and at various times about the Giants (or any other team) having "momentum" coming into the playoffs, I am referring mainly to their level of play. I'm not talking about some intangible sense of "feeling good" or "great confidence." Rather, it's the notion that the team is coming together and playing the right brand of football at the right time.

It's exactly what I would say with the Packers last year. They hit their groove as a team and were fundamentally sound in their game. They weren't winning because they had momentum, they had momentum because they were winning. And they were winning because they were playing well.

That's just me though... Others probably see it differently.

murphy's picture

This, exactly.

Roger Mayerson's picture

Well put Chad. The Giants will not win because they have mo, but because they play better football than the Pack. Which they wont' because Aaron is lights out compared to Eli.

PackersRS's picture


What makes you believe they have momentum? Because they played well in 4 consecutive games. Oh, no. It's because they played well in the last 4 out of 5.

People just choose to ignore the Washington game, where the Giants could generate a whopping one touchdown, running for 91 yards, with Eli throwing all of 257 yards, zero tds, 3 picks. And it wasn't a close game. It was 28-10 Redskins. AT NEW YORK.

Really? Momentum, because they won against the Cowboys twice, the Jets and the Falcons, with a Redskins loss in the middle?

Here're the games the Giants played against playoff opponents:

NYG 24 @ NE 20
NYG 20 @ SF 27
NYG 24 @ NO 49
GB 38 @ NYG 35
ATL 2 @ NYG 24

That, to me, tells that they usually lose against better teams than them, that they've stunned 1 of those 4, which can very well be considered the exception game, and they've won soundly against an inferior opponent.

If you actually watched the Atlanta game, you'll know that it was a very close game, till the same coach that had botchered their chances against NO did the same not only once but twice.

SpiderPack's picture

It all might just be semantics. RS I don't think of what we call momentum as THE determining factor, but an influencing factor yes. I did watch the Giants/Falcons game &amp; I don't think there was anything close about it. The Giants were completely dominant in that game, the Falcons were completely outmatched. I think everything else you said here about the Giants this season is accurate, but I also think what Chad &amp; I are talking about is real and is happening with regard to the Giants. What's so great about the NFL these days is that the teams are so evenly matched that it has the effect of bringing out these issues of "momentum" &amp; chemistry &amp; team performance in that these intangibles are often the main determining factor in a victory. The NFL has become a spotlight for us to contemplate how these things really work.

PackersRS's picture

I don't think it's semantics. I can't affirm (though I don't believe) that momentum doesn't exist.

But I certainly don't think 3 games can count as momentum, not when they haven't faced any quality opponent, particularly one that can exploit their weak secondary like we can.

Like Mark said, I think people are seeing their DL play better and are atributing it to momentum and not health. But they've struggled in a lot of areas in this "run".

And I completely disagree that the game wasn't close, it was 10-2 till later in the 3rd quarter, and could've been 10-8 if Mike Smith hadn't called for 2 QB sneaks on 4th down.

I agree that the Giants were having a better game, and were clearly the better team, but that game was very close up until late, regardless. Do you really think they can win at Lambeau generating 10 points in 3 quarters?

packsmack25's picture

The Packers never relenquished their momentum from last postseason. Even if it exists, Green Bay has it anyway.

PackersRS's picture

The Giants have won 4 out of 5. Before that, they had a 4 game losing streak.

The Packers have won 19 out of 20, including postseason and Super Bowl.

MarkinMadison's picture

I think this whole "momentum" line comes from the fact that they have had their preferred starting D-line together for the last few games. They are relatively injury free on the D-line, and the D-line is playing relatively well.

What it all adds up to is the Detroit Lions with a better D-secondary, and a speedy guy (Cruz) instead of a big buy (Megatron). On D, match speed with speed - put Shields on Cruz and let the young guys go at it. On O - like he said, use Finley. Use DD and Cobb on quick outs. Throw the screen pass to Grant. I'm thinking Packers by 10 if the coaching staff is able to focus on the task at hand.

God bless Philbin.

SpiderPack's picture

I agree Packsmack, but the Giants team I saw on the field Sunday would make things damn interesting next Sunday in Lambeau.

Evan's picture

Only if the Packers play like the Falcons.

joshywoshybigfatposhy's picture


packsmack25's picture

People love to criticize McCarthy's playcalling, but he will never run a running play on 2nd and 23, like the Falcons did Sunday.

djbonney138's picture

Or have Aaron try and pick up a 4th and 1 twice, instead of letting Mason get the easy 3? On the road. In the playoffs.

Tarynfor 12's picture

The Falcons offense was full of Mularky and now their not...

bomdad's picture

Giants momentum has been all home games, and they include the "moral victory" loss to the Packers as a win.

Get this, because the score of the game was 38-35, and that matches the score of the game vs the Pats in 2007, its a sign that they do in fact have momentum.

PackRat's picture

Momentum (Webster's Dictionary):

RCobb doesn't fumble.

YOTTO makes catches and bedevils the middle of the Giants secondary.

Clifton doesn't get blown up and the interior of the line holds.

Peprah only gets blown up twice at most, and most of the other DBs keep the ball in front of them.

Tramon finds his innner Chi.

CM52 meets EM10 early and often.

Bob's picture

Finley sitting in holes 5 to 15 yards down field will put an end to the Giants defensive game plan. This is the game where he can make his statement for the year. Throw to him in the holes and let him either run away from or over people.

mark's picture

Amen Bob.

Cole's picture

I tend to agree with Nagler. If there really is momentum, how did the Cardinals get on a run a few years ago after they got shelacked their final game by like forty points? What about the Broncos this last weekend? They played atrociously the previous two (you could argue) three weeks. All of sudden the offense can score? Where's the momentum argument for that?

I would think it's more about executing at the right time. You execute one game and see that it can be done and thus it builds your confidence and go into the next game expecting a repeat performance. It's probably expectancy theory more than it is momentum.

Ruppert's picture

Is more momentum gained by each game? The Gnats certainly have more momentum this week than last, right?

By that rather sound logic (if I do say so, myself), the team that has won 15 of 16 just this season should have much, much more momentum. Right?

Seems to me the Packers benefit whether this momentum exists or not. Because the Packers are the better football team.

kasag's picture

i'd rather be a packer fan worrying about the visiting giants then a giant fan knowing my team is heading to Lambeau in january.
i like where i sit as a packer fan.

nerd&#039;s phone's picture

The Giants are pretty good, but so are we. We beat them at their house. Yeah, they had injured guys who are back now, but so did we. At home arodge can slow the rush with a hard count. Capers is gonna start playing real football. Grant is gonna pop some runs. We got this.

MarkinMadison's picture

Thinking about it a bit more, momentum = confidence gained from recent good play (usually, but not always evidenced by recent wins) + good health. I do think confidence matters in sports, a lot. At least in individual endurance sports (where I've dabbled through the years), it has been scientifically proven that your mental desire and belief in your ability to perform is far more of a limiting factor than your physical condition. Remember the Farve-led play-off team that just missed getting the bye, and then came and died the next week? Yeah.

I don't think just one team gets to have it. All 8 teams still in the play-offs at this point have reasons to be confident - even the Broncos.

joshywoshybigfatposhy's picture

i just want to know how the giants can get by still having that 13 year old quarterback.

Wagszilla's picture

I'm extremely nervous for Sunday.

That being said, the Giants numbers were very inflated against a poor Atlanta defense and the media is feeding everyone a "teh Giants are on fire" line? Silly. That one TD had laughable Sam Shields-esque "tackling" for example. And they still only put up 24 at home? Pfffftt.

TundraBoy's picture

Wow so much talk from Giants and media considering how they lost twice to Wash and beat up on dregs last few weeks. The way Atlanta played, Ryan looked scared even when the game was close. 25-2 score was not impressive at all. I wonder how much trash we would hear if they were 15-1. Just so out of proportion to reality. Jets must have rubbed off on them. Time for their lucky charms to end.

TundraBoy's picture

Sorry but Getting your act together after blowing a 6-2 record means you are streaky. Momentum builds over a period of time with consistency

Vince M's picture

The argument of momentum is flipped on its head to begin with. Chad Toporski said it perfectly in his comment above. Teams that win are said to have momentum. No team that loses is given this nebulous gift of forward inertia. Teams win because they out execute their opponents. They don't win because they have "momentum". IF the G-men win this Sunday, it will be because they out executed us. Talking about momentum is the tool of a lazy analyst.

Pack Fan In Enemy Territory's picture

This article is a perfect example of how you're nothing but a loud mouth hack job fan boy trying to make money off something you're just not qualified to do.

I will say that you've done a good job persuading people to think that your opinion matters enough to pay you guys for garbage content like the draft guide from your "scouts".

packeraaron's picture

So the Giants won because they have "momentum." Why did the 49ers win?

I find it interesting that I'm not qualified to have an opinion.

As for our "garbage content" in our draft mag - a member of the Packers coaching staff disagrees with you.

Stay classy.

Pack Fan In Enemy Territory's picture

" So the Giants won because they have “momentum.” Why did the 49ers win? "

Why are you making shit up? You're truly a dishonest person &amp; master of spin.

And what the fuck do the 49ers have to do with anything?

" I find it interesting that I’m not qualified to have an opinion. "

Where did I say you weren't qualified to have an opinion. Why are you such a dishonest person? Do you shoot straight at all?

" As for our “garbage content” in our draft mag – a member of the Packers coaching staff disagrees with you. "

Good for you, seriously. Well not you, because you're trash, but Brian does seem like a genuinely good guy that works hard.

I still think there is something wrong with weekend football watchers charging money for content as professionals.

And I personally I think the only thing 100% authentic in there is the interviews.

But again, good for the people that are really responsible for it.

" Stay classy. "

I usually try to, but that changed towards this place with your blow up at the questioning of your cyber pan handling to go to the combine last year.

You really came off as a low class shit bag with that one. I mean seriously, do you really think you're doing something that is special enough to blow up on one of your posters for questioning why they should pay for you to basically go on a football fan's dream vacation? You just don't get it IMO.

I hope you paid back everyone that helped you go there too &amp; all the people that paid for you studio equipment too.

I would never help such a loud mouth arrogant prick with such a false sense of self worth EVER.

It's principle with me to be honest &amp; to me YOU don't deserve hits, donations, or money for the way you conduct yourself. But hey luckily for you, I'm only one person who doesn't make a difference.

Hopefully you'll start acting more professionally &amp; start to get IT, but I highly doubt that. A punk will always be a punk...

Peace &amp; GL with site

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