Friday, October 10, 2008

Yo, Meathead!

So it seems as if after five weeks and four games, the NFL pundits are finally willing to cede some respect to the New York Giants. After starting the season anywhere from 4 to 10 in the experts’ power rankings even after winning last year’s Super Bowl (only one site I saw, a personal sports site, had the Giants ranked at the top at the beginning of the season), let’s see where the champs sit now. On—the Giants are #1. On Sports Illustrated’s web page—#1. CBS Sportsline—#1. Fox Sports—#1. NBC Sports? They have three columns of rankings, for their NFL TV team’s picks, the NBC Sports overall picks, and fan picks—and the Giants are #1 across the board.

Now, I don’t want to get too cocky—it’s true that Big Blue has had a pretty easy schedule so far. Some will argue that the Redskins were the only real challenge, and since it was the first game of the season, no one had any idea that the ’Skins had it in them to be good this year, for a change. Others will say that the Giants almost lost to the still-winless Bengals. Also true, but that game was in week 3, and the 0–2 Bengals were desperate for a win to salvage any hopes of making the playoffs this year. (Now that they have no hope, they also don’t have much fight.)

The Jints’ other games? The Rams? Hah! Also winless. The Seahawks? Well, no one knew how the ’Hawks would be this year. They started out with a bevy of injuries, but they supposedly had almost their full complement, including both starting wideouts, Bobby Engram and Deion Branch, when they played the Giants last Sunday. Meanwhile, the G-men were without their number-one receiver, Plaxico Burress, who went and got himself suspended for violating team rules, and, lest we forget, they are without the services of one of their best defensive linemen, Osi Umenyiora, for the season. The result? A 44–6 whupping of Seattle that gave the Giants’ their biggest point differential in a win since 1972 and their most yardage since 1964!

(As a side note, we invited some of our neighbors, Seahawks fans, over to watch the game. While I had a blast, the game wasn’t too much fun for them. Nevertheless, they had a good time—I hope!—with our hospitality, and especially with my wife’s velvet crumb cake!)

This week, on Monday night, the Giants play Cleveland, and next week, it’s San Francisco. I realize anything can happen in any game, but there’s a decent chance that New York will head into its first big challenge of the season, against the Cowboys, at 6–0. While the ’Boys look good, it’s hard to say they’re on the same level as the Giants, considering all the holes in the Dallas defense, and the Giants offense just looks great. I’m not predicting an unbeaten regular season, as the Patriots had last year, but barring injuries, I can see 13–3 or 12–4 for New York. After Dallas, the Giants will still have four more division games to play, including rematches with the Redskins and Cowboys, and though the Eagles are 2–3, they always play the Giants tough. As I stated in this column before, to the know-it-alls who gave the Giants no respect, don’t be surprised if they make another run at a title, as long as everyone stays healthy. After years of suffering through Dave Brown and Danny Kanell, it is satisfying to have a quarterback who looks as confident as Eli Manning, as well as a dazzling array of weapons on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. I’ll say it again—defensive end Justin Tuck is a monster!

SEASONINGS: By the way, I can’t say enough about how fantastic it is to have Joe Torre in the NLCS with the Dodgers after the Yankees shafted him last year. In case you didn’t notice, the Yankees didn’t make the playoffs this season, even with their astronomical payroll, while the Dodgers played great under Torre. I’m hoping they can make some progress against the Phillies, who currently lead the series 1–0, and make it back to the World Series for the first time since 1988. Although I feel bad for the Cubs, I just want someone—anyone!—to eliminate those darn Phillies! Good luck to Ed, who will have to suffer through another awful Rams season once the Dodgers are done, and could really use a Dodgers World Series title to salve the wounds of this year in football for him.

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