Updated May 20
I feel sorry for the New York Giants.
They are the defending Super Bowl champions. Their shiny new bling rings are coming this summer after capping off a magical playoff run with an upset victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, and yet they are getting little love heading into 2008.
|Have Eli Manning and the Giants had their moment? (Getty Images)|
When I spoke to Cowboys coach Wade Phillips a few weeks ago, he pointed out that the Cowboys outgained the Giants and ran the ball for more yards, yet lost.
"We won almost everything except for the score," Phillips said. "You have games like that. The stats went our way, but they made the plays and won the game. We didn't play bad. We played a good game. We just didn't make the plays we had been making all season."
Phillips, by the way, was speaking to me at Tom Coughlin's charity golf tournament in Jacksonville, with Coughlin a short chip away.
No respect, none at all.
Coughlin still has a quality team and a quarterback who just might have punched his ticket to join the elite if that fourth-quarter performance in the Super Bowl is an indication of things to come.
Eli Manning, I think, arrived that day.
It's too bad he might be coming to a place already occupied by his brother, Peyton, and that model-loving quarterback he beat in the Super Bowl.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are the two reasons why New England and Indianapolis are ranked 1-2 in my latest CBSSports.com Power Rankings. Yes, ahead of the Giants.
If the Giants and Patriots played 10 times last February, I think the Patriots would have won seven of them. That's not to take away from what the Giants did, but the Patriots were the better team.
Just not that day.
Don't buy for a minute, though, the talk that the Boston Herald story about a possible taping of the Rams' walk-through before Super Bowl XXXVI, which ran the Friday before this year's Super Bowl, had any impact on the game. The Patriots are claiming it might have. That's absurd -- and they know it.
With Spygate now buried by the league, which clearly wants it to go away, the smug Bill Belichick is back. Did you see how arrogant he was in that interview with Armen Keteyian on the CBS Evening News?
It was a far cry from the woe-is-me Belichick we saw at the league meetings in March when he was peppered with questions about Spygate with the uncertainty of what Matt Walsh knew still to be determined.
With Walsh providing no new information, Belichick blasted away. You can bet he will try to use all of that as motivation for his team.
He doesn't really need it. The Patriots are the best team right now. And the Colts are the second-best team.
But I'm not going to put the Cowboys ahead of the Giants just yet. At least New England lost to the Giants on a neutral field. The Cowboys lost on their home field.
I'm not ready to pick the Giants to repeat, but it's not a stretch to say they're the best team in the NFC right now.
Too bad few others think that.