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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

February 5-- I can't believe the Giants are champs

I've got a couple of hours to kill before Art Monk and Darrell Green get their Redskin Park press conference to celebrate their induction into the Hall of Fame, so I found myself checking out the Giants parade in Manhattan and then it dawned on me: This might be the most unlikely champion in the history of the NFL..

I couldn't help but think back to the week 15 game in the Meadowlands where the Insane Todd Collins posse was born as the Skins back-up quarterback was dusted off and led the Skins to a must win against the Giants.. This was the last meaningful loss of the season for New York..

Lets put aside who they beat in the Super Bowl for just a second.. That night, after the Skins won 22-10, I was on the team plane openly talking about the distinct possibility that the Giants would loss out and that would be the Skins best way into the postseason. They had games at Buffalo and versus unbeaten New England left on the schedule.. We all assumed the Pats would win which left the Giants in a must win in what turned out to be a blizzard..

While New England beat them (which now looks like the best loss of all time), New York appeared to have none of the attributes of a Super Bowl champ.. No NFC team had ever reached the championship game after playing 3 road playoff games.. So the team that was out of their division race by week 13, was now only playing for one of the two wild card spots.. The teams they would face in their final three games were teams they went 0-4 against in the regular season, 0-3 at home.
They ended up 3-5 in the Meadowlands. Their quarterback (maybe the most unlikely Super Bowl MVP) had a completion percentage under 60%. Of the top 30 quarterbacks, only five didn't hit the 60% benchmark, among them; Cleo Lemon and Trent Edwards.

The Giants ended up in 23rd in passing offense, their total O ranked 16th, middle of the pack. Their defense while leading the league in sacks and ranked 7th overall in yards allowed (which equates to overall ranking) was giving up over 22 points a game, that ranked them 17th in the league. They were 20th in interceptions and because Eli was among the worst in the league for interceptions thrown, it added up to a horrendous -9 in the turnover margin stat.

So a team that gave the ball away more then they took it away, was mediocre at best on offense and aboved average in certain aspects of D, but below average in scoring defense was the team who beat the best two teams in the NFC on the road and ended the league's best team who was only going for history.

Yet throughout all three of those playoff wins, the Giants certainly outplayed their opponents. This was no fluke, unless you consider a 6 week period a fluke. Eli was far from even being considered a pro bowl quarterback, after the playoffs, he was certainly playing at an MVP calliber. They were easily the more physical team in their wins, their scoring defense and lack of turnovers suggested this was not the case for the bulk of the season.
And they not only beat New England, they beat them on a neutral field when they were incapable of defeating them on their home turf just a month earlier. They held the league's highest scoring team in the history of the game to a season low 14 points. A team also known in recent years for choking leads and seasons for that matter, became the most clutch team in the league for a month..

All of this adds up to one obvious glaring truth about the NFL, parody makes this league the most unpredictable of any of the professional team sports. I would have given 100-1 odds after that December game between the Skins and Giants that New York would WIN the Super Bowl let alone get there.
2 of the last 3 years, a five seed or lower won the championship both of them playing 3 road games en route to the title. The Giants got no breaks on their way facing the highest possible seeds each subsequent round and yet they never reverted to the more unpredictable team they were earlier this season. It makes me wonder, had the Giants lost the Bills game and snuck into the playoffs as the 6 seed, would they have beaten Seattle with all the crowd noise? Would the Skins have beaten those same teams the Giants did. Certainly, you could have made more of a case for Washington wunning that table having beaten Dallas and having had true near misses with Green Bay, Tampa Bay and the Cowboys earlier in the season.

In the end, maybe they aren't the most unlikely champion. Maybe there just is no such thing as a favorite anymore. Or maybe the Giants are great, they just decided not to show it until it mattered most..

OK men..


Blogger Colby said...

The thing that gets me pissed is the Skins had the giants beat in week two until the Skins beat their selfs and let the giants come back down 17 and win after the Skins couldnt get the ball in the endzone from the 2yard line. Then the redskins won the next meeting while having full control of the game. The Skins out played the Super Bowl champs 6.5 out of the 8 Quarters they played. what the hell???

8:26 PM  

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