A year ago at this time the Indianapolis Colts were among the favorites to win the Super Bowl, which made sense because the Indianapolis Colts were the defending Super Bowl champions.
So how, then, do you explain what's going on with the New York Giants?
They not only aren't among the favorites to return to the Super Bowl; they are not favored to win their division. Dallas is, and the last time I checked, the Cowboys hadn't won a playoff game since Dec. 28, 1996.
|Eli Manning claimed the Lombardi Trophy in his fourth season, five years faster than brother Peyton. (Getty Images)|
"I can't think of anyone in recent memory that's been as disrespected as the Giants since they won the Super Bowl," said Jay Kornegay, sports book director for the Las Vegas Hilton. "It's been many, many years.
"When people out here look at them it's, 'Congratulations for what you did, but you're still not one of the premier teams in the NFL.'"
And the odds reflect it. The Hilton has the Giants 12-1 to repeat, substantially ahead of the 20-1 at which they opened but substantially behind three other clubs -- including San Diego, which has never won an NFL championship.
Another sports book I saw gave the Green Bay Packers a better chance of winning the Super Bowl than the Giants, which must mean somebody out there thinks Brett Favre isn't retired.
And almost everywhere I looked it was Dallas, not the Giants, who were the pick in the NFC, while the Patriots -- who the Giants vanquished in Super Bowl XLII -- are the trendy choice to win it all.
Maybe it's because of Tom Brady. Maybe it's Bill Belichick. Or maybe it's because the Patriots have the league's weakest schedule. All I know is they keep popping up when Super Bowl favorites are the conversation.
But there's something missing here: The Patriots lost Super Bowl XLII, and I mention that because of the recent history of second-place finishers. They not only don't make it back to the Super Bowl; they usually don't make it to the playoffs, period.
Over the past seven years, only one team -- the 2006 Seattle Seahawks -- qualified for the playoffs the season after it lost a Super Bowl. What's worse, six of the past seven Super Bowl losers didn't even make it to .500 the following year.
You can look it up. The Giants were 7-9 in 2001. The St. Louis Rams were 7-9 in 2002. The Oakland Raiders were 4-12 in 2003. The Carolina Panthers were 7-9 in 2004. The Philadelphia Eagles were 6-10 in 2005. The Chicago Bears were 7-9 in 2007.