|Hakeem Nicks and the Giants are looking for another upset. (AP photo)|
By Steve MortonAnyone who’s watched the New York Giants since Week 16 has to be asking, “Is this team destined to be in the Super Bowl or what?" After all, who lives like this? Which team in the NFL do you know plays mediocre and inconsistently throughout the regular season only to enter the playoffs and then start blowing teams suddenly and without explanation out of their socks?
That’s the story of the Giants, who have now sent four teams with better records and power rankings than them home to watch the playoffs from their sofa.
New York has without a doubt played some impressive football ever since squaring off against the Jets and Cowboys in the final two weeks of the regular season. The Giants were ranked lower than each of those teams, yet pummeled both to clinch the NFC East and a playoff berth.
Ironically, the Giants defeated Jets coach Rex Ryan and brother Rob Ryan, Dallas’ defensive coordinator, in each of those weeks. From there, the Giants manhandled the Atlanta Falcons in the wild card round of the playoffs, shutting out the Falcons' offense. And, most recently, shocked the Green Bay Packers, who many believed were the best team in football. The Packers were more than eight-point favorites to beat the Giants last Sunday, but instead were handed a 37-20 defeat.
Anyone who watched the game could see the Giants were no underdog.
Oh yeah, again, the Giants forced a game of Ryan, holding Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan to below 200 passing yards and zero touchdowns and limiting Packers running back Ryan Grant to 33 yards and forcing him to cough up a fumble that helped seal the win.
Now, with a magic carpet ride at full speed for the Giants, they head to San Francisco for the NFC title game on Sunday. Once again the Giants are the underdog as San Fran is favored by a little less than a field goal. Great news for Giants and their fans. The Giants have flourished over the years in the underdog role. The Giants Super Bowl championship win in 2007 was built on a magic carpet ride in which nobody gave the team a chance to win.
Everywhere you look it seems like no one ever wants to give the Giants a chance. Some things never change. Maybe now that there are no “Ryan's” associated with the 49ers franchise the run is over for the Giants. Can that be why San Francisco is favored?
You would think that after beating the Packers, who had only suffered one loss this season before last Sunday’s defeat, that critics would give the Giants more credit. But no. Instead, Green Bay lost because the team was sloppy and the Giants won because the Packers were bad — not because the Giants were good.
Well, Sunday’s matchup will prove what I’ve been screaming about since the Giants clinched their division — that the Giants relish the underdog role and are hardest to beat when the football world is against them.
Sure the Giants and Niners have met many times in the playoffs and critics will go onto to say San Francisco has the advantage because of the damp field conditions and yadda, yadda, yadda. Anything to not have to pick the Giants it seems. How many times do the Giants have to win to prove the theories wrong, might I ask?
I’ve said it for the last four weeks, and I’ll say it again. The Giants will win on Sunday. Count on it. My prediction: 20-10, Giants.