Big Blue's Path To Two-Peat Starts With Dallas
The Giants take the field tonight in the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys as a four-point pick, and the fans and local press seem to pretty much agree that Big Blue has an excellent chance of repeating as Super Bowl champions.
Las Vegas doesn't exactly agree, at least on the latter point: you can get 18-to-1 on the Giants going all the way, exactly the odds you'll get with the Cowboys. In fact, the Philadelphia Eagles are a better pick for the Lombardi Trophy than either of their NFC rivals, 12-to-1 (Don't make too much of this - no one is too strong a pick this year; the best you can do is the Green Bay Packers at 6-to-1).
If you wonder why the rest of the world doesn't share the New York area's enthusiasm for the Giants, recall that by the end of the regular season last year they were 9-7, just one game ahead of the Cowboys and the Eagles, and that both of those teams had a considerable point difference from the Giants. The Giants scored 394 points and allowed 400, the Eagles were 396/328 with the Cowboys clocking in at 369/328.
Yea, I know the Giants were far, far better at making the big play in the big game than either Philadelphia or Dallas. Or to be specific, Eli Manning made the big play, time and time again, six times leading the Giants to 4th quarter victories. But do you know what the NFL average is in coming from behind when you're down in the fourth quarter? It's about a 33% success rate. Eli beat those odds like a drum, going 6-0 in a situation where he would have been expected to win two or perhaps three games.
Keep this in mind: if Eli had failed on any of those six 4th quarter come-from-behinds, the Giants not only don't make it to the Super Bowl, they don't even make it to the postseason.
That's how tight things were last season, and that's how important tonight's game with a division rival is. If the Giants lose this game, it's almost an iron clad cinch that they'll have to beat the Cowboys on October 28 at Dallas just to have a shot at a two-peat.