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Ten-Point Stance: Giants have Patriots' full respect between the lines

by | CBSSports.com National NFL Insider

Tom Brady might be the greatest ever, but Eli Manning is the hotter QB entering the Super Bowl. (Getty Images)  
Tom Brady might be the greatest ever, but Eli Manning is the hotter QB entering the Super Bowl. (Getty Images)  

1. The Giants' cry of disrespect and pleading to be viewed as underdogs began with a hilarious scene after they beat San Francisco, a verbal assault on Terry Bradshaw by an 80-something grandma.

Ann Mara, the matriarch of the Giants, scolded Bradshaw as he attempted to interview Victor Cruz for Bradshaw for never picking her team to win. It was a funny moment that went viral. And it was the beginning of what has become and will continue to be a theme for the Giants during the next two weeks.

This week, various Giants players quickly jumped on the underdog bandwagon. The 'R' card, respect, has been played repeatedly. As in, no one had any for the Giants. As in, no one still does. Said defensive lineman Justin Tuck on Tuesday: "A lot of people haven't given us a shot, and I think we kind of like it that way. So for all you oddsmakers out there, just keep rooting against us."

I realize athletes reach for anything as a source of fuel, but we've officially reached a ridiculous point in the evolution of the Giants this year when they claim no one respects them or thinks they'll win. No one gives a damn about oddsmakers. They only set lines to sway the betting sheep, er, public, to wager their kid's private-school fund, er, money.

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The Giants aren't underdogs where it counts, which is on the field. The Giants are an explosive, athletic, mentally tough team. I might even go as far to say they are a great team and I would definitely say the Giants, in some ways, are better than the Patriots. In fact, they've already beaten the Patriots.

Please shut up about underdogs or lack of respect. Please, I'm begging you, Giants.

The only true advantage the Patriots have is at the head coaching position. Tom Coughlin is making his case for the Hall of Fame (if he beats Bill Belichick and Tom Brady twice in the Super Bowl, roll out the red carpet) but Belichick is still better (to me, Belichick is the best coach in history).

But that is where the Patriots' advantage ends. Brady is one of the top three quarterbacks of all time, but right now -- at this moment in time -- Eli Manning is playing better. Manning has been the best thrower in football the past few weeks. He torched the Packers in Green Bay, won in San Francisco, and no one is playing more confidently now. No, not even Brady. Manning is going to absolutely torch that New England secondary.

New York's running game is better, its defense is better, its special-teams play is better. The Giants' receiving corps is deeper. The Patriots have deadly players at tight end, but Rob "Bam Bam" Gronkowski is hurt and I have my doubts he will even play.

I'm not saying the Giants will win (Belichick and Brady ... hello) but they have a solid shot because this Giants team is as damn good. This team is so talented, even Bradshaw might finally pick them to win.

2. Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis says he's not retiring. I'm not so certain. Whenever he does depart the game, he will do so as the best middle linebacker of all time. I also think he has pulled even with Lawrence Taylor as the best linebacker ever.

3. The attendance and viewership numbers for the NFL this season have been almost frightening. The number of people watching professional football is unprecedented. Remember the dire lockout days when large swaths of fans said they were angry with the NFL and wouldn't watch it again?

4. We might finally have an HGH testing agreement on the horizon. League and union officials believe there will be testing for next season. This is the most optimistic I've heard both sides on a potential agreement.

5a. Champ of the week: Eli Manning. Growing up before our eyes. It's an amazing thing to see. Aaron Rodgers exploded onto the scene. So did Drew Brees. Manning's talent evolved steadily. Again, impressive.

5b. Chump of the week: Not going to name a kicker, not going to name a kicker, not going to name a kicker. Must ... re ... sist. Winner is the fans who sent death threats to San Francisco 49ers returner Kyle Williams, whose two fumbles led to the Giants' final 10 points. Death threats. For a football game. Unreal.

5c. Tweet of the week: "Adaptability is More than Simply "Rolling w The Punches", it's about Calmly, Intelligently, and Readily Responding to Circumstances. #Adapt" -- Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson. Interesting coming from Mr. Mimic Plaxico Burress Shooting Himself.

6. One guy you'll be hearing a lot from Super Bowl week: David Tyree.

7. People who watched Brady in the title game against Baltimore swear he's injured. Then again, someone always thinks Brady is hurt.

8. Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher said he would hide a concussion. This should shock no one, particularly since a number of players have already told me they do the same and likely will continue to do so. This is the problem the NFL faces: the league must break through that player -- and coach -- mentality that a concussion signals weakness and a concussed player could lose his job, and thus money.

9. I wish the late George Young, former general manager of the Giants, were here to enjoy the Giants being back in the Super Bowl. In many ways, the current run of this team can be traced back to him.

10. Peyton Manning is gone from Indy. There's little doubt he'll play another down with the Colts again. Things can change, tempers can cool, circumstances can shift, but almost no one in football expects Manning to be with the Colts next year. While few in the NFL believe the Arizona-Cardinals-and-Manning rumors privately, some league executives still believe Manning will end up with the Jets despite that team's public protestations of their undying love for Mark Sanchez. My guess: Peyton Manning will be a Washington Redskin.


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