Should the New York Giants be the NFC Favorites?

By Charles Phelps

Despite winning two Lombardi trophies’ and being a well-road tested team in the playoffs—the New York Giants are coming into the 2012 season under the radar.

Even in their own conference, no one expects much from them. Can you blame anyone, though? After winning Super Bowl 42, the team went 13-3 in 2009 (best record in the NFC) and were bounced in the divisional round of the playoffs. PlaxicoBurress shot himself in the leg—ultimately the team shot themselves.

Look no further than last season. The Giants were left for dead going into December. They went on a rampage—no different than the Packers the year before—however, they had to beat the Cowboys, which when you look at it, the Boys’ December track-record isn’t the greatest—no shocker the Giants prevailed. Their first-round opponent—the Atlanta Falcons—who under Mike Smith have been one of the best regular-season teams’ in the league, but (they) can’t put it together in the playoffs (0-3 playoff-record). No surprise the Giants won going away.

No surprise their second playoff game came on the road--but in a place where they’d had previous success. The mystique of Lambeau Field is gone. The Falcons knocked jarred the door open in 2003—the Giants busted it down for good in ’08. Despite having a 15-1 regular-season record, you got the feeling “history is going to repeat itself” when the Packers and Giants met in January. Sure enough, from opening kickoff to the hail-mary before halftime and when the game was over—the Giants had pulled out another road-playoff win in Lambeau.

After that emotion of the victory (again), the Giants flew across the country to meet the 49ers—who they’d lost too during the season. It was a different game the second time around, but it took two 49er’ special team mistakes to give Eli and companya chance. They capitalized and won in overtime.

In the Super Bowl, the Patriots were the dominant team; even after suffering an early safety. Somehow though, the Giants again found a way to beat one of the greatest coach/quarterback combinations in NFL history (Belichick/Brady). You can call it luck, but sometimes lightning does strike twice—however, the strike is comes from the right arm of Eli Manning.

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning
Aug 10, 2012; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) calls an audible during the first quarter of the preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Photo Courtesy By Melina Vastola-US PRESSWIRE.

Look at this offseason. Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall made a Super Bowl guarantee—so everyone’s talking about that. Terrell Owens signs with the Seahawks—everyone’s talking about that. Randy Moss sings with San Fran.—everyone’s wondering if he’s going to be the difference-maker for them. However, I’m not hearing anything about the defending champions.

Maybe it’s their schedule. They open the season up in primetime against the Cowboys. I expect a win for the Giants, but it’s the regular-season, I won’t be shocked if they lose as well. Then they play the Bucs’ and Panthers. I expect to see wins in both of those games. Their biggest test will come against the 49ers, Packers and their NFC East divisional opponents. You never know how the NFC East will play out. The Eagles are talking about winning again, Jerry Jones claims the Boys’ will whoop the Giants and the Skins’, they’re hoping RGIII turns out to be a home-run.

Last, but certainly not least—Eli Manning shouldn’t be a reason they’re not favored. Eli has won more Super Bowl’s than his brother, Peyton. He went on a radio show last offseason and proclaimed he was one of the best quarterbacks in the league—guess what? He backed it up with his second Lombardi trophy. He’s 8-3 in the playoffs. Because he doesn’t light up the record book every year, he won’t get the respect he deserves.

Looking at everything, though, the Giants are the defending champions. They should be the favorites—but their regular-season success’ dictate why they aren’t. They can’t lose games to teams who aren’t on their level. They have to prove a point early-and-often to start the season. However, I don’t think they mind flying under-the-radar, either.

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