We face NFL Week 13 with dread and excitement. Dread for what has overtaken and what's to come for our own very favorite team, the Big Blue Team of Destiny. Their destiny now seems to be a final five games of shame and discord, followed by pointed fingers, pointless speculation and the inevitable dismissal of the coach. Aggh.
But that's the New York Giants today and anyone who thinks this will end well, please speak up. Oh, I'll still be rooting for the GMen and, frankly, would not be all that surprised to see them beat the rolling Cowboys on December 3. But what's happened the last few weeks, what the stunningly inept coach Tom Coughlin has allowed to happen the last few weeks, is sure to be the memory anyone takes from this season.
The Giants' players have managed to embarrass themselves, onfield and off, never worse than in the 24-21 loss to Tennessee. Tiki Barber points fingers where and when he shouldn't and being right has nothing to do with it. Putting the blame on an incompetent coaching staff (you think differently?) was not going to help anyone. Not after the same spotlight had been pointed earlier in the season by loudmouthed teammate Jeremy Shockey. And then there's the wide receiver Plaxico Burress who hasn't been talking that much but then again he hasn't been doing much. It now seems that if the passes he awaits from QB Eli Manning are not laid perfectly in his expectant hands, he not only won't reach and bend and fight to get the ball, but he instantly pouts as the defenders' pick them off and head the other way. And we can also say the absence of the injured-footed DE Michael Strahan has hurt the defense for sure but it has also made this greatly flawed team more watchable. Why? There are none of those stupid ‘jump shots' after he, or one of his mates, does something good. Play the game!
There's more from the Tennessee disgrace: Frank Walker throwing an out-of-bounds elbow at the out of bounds Vince Young. Yeah, that's smart. And none of this even includes the rookie Mathias Kiwanuka letting VY out of his grasp for a key 19-yard first down run. Kiwanuka thought he'd be whistled for roughing the passer if he sent VY to the ground. At least Kiwanuka was thinking--wrong as it turns out but thinking nevertheless. That's more than can be said for virtually anyone else wearing a helmet or headset over the last few weeks. And Coughlin handled it so well on the field.
Naturally Coughlin took the microphone after the game and made sure he blamed as many players as possible. There's a standup guy for you. Excuse me Tom, those two passes Eli threw for INTs on second and short? He threw them, you called them, didn't you? Team effort all the way around.
Being a Giant fan today helps you understand what it must be like to root for the Lions or the Cardinals or the Raiders. Hope is replaced by hopelessness.
Do you have any idea how painful this is?
So why are we excited? Week 13 puts most Fantasy Leagues in their final week before playoffs, and the possibilities are endless. It reminds us why we love our pro football. Who could have predicted that 49ers Frank Gore would be leading the NFC in rushing? And now you Fantasy managers, do you start Gore this week or does that ankle he injured on Sunday against St. Louis slow him or stop him? And of course when Steve Smith sat out the first two weeks of the season with a contract dispute, er, ‘hamstring problems', did you keep him, did you trade him? Did you cut him? And who's sorry now? Smith may still lead the NFC in receptions and yards. And of course his Panthers are rolling to the Super Bowl. (What's that? Redskins beat them on Sunday. No way. Way.)
And surely the emergence of Tony Romo as the leading quarterback in the entire National Football League is a prediction we all made. Well, all of us except you and me, that is.
And let's be real here FanNation: if the playoffs somehow guaranteed that you would be able to see the Chargers play the Ravens and the Colts play the Patriots wouldn't you just be ecstatic? It's kind of troubling that we'll be treated to six NFC teams in the playoffs. Rules are rules but does anyone really truly want to see any of those teams come January? Even the Bears have got their fans fearing the inevitable Grossman destruction and a sad fate for their team. The only team in the NFC that we truly want to see in the playoffs now (please, the Giants in the playoffs would be just too painful) is the Saints.
The NFL's best is clearly in the AFC. Funny how things swing like that but there's no denying it. The Chargers, the Pats, the Ravens, the Colts. LT, Superboy Brady, Ridiculously Talented Adalius Thomas, and, yes, Peyton, all excite us more than just about anything in the NFC.
One last embarrassment for the Giants: their stadium in the Jersey swamp may be a playoff site in January but it would more likely come draped in green. The 6-5 Jets are rising, finding new confidence and taking advantage of an ‘easy' schedule. And they're being coached by a young guy who may be the real thing in Eric Mangini. The players actually like playing for him, they can kid him about his odd shape and anything they accomplish from here on out is gravy. And there's a future. The 6-5 Giants are spinning out of control. When 6-5 is both great and terrible, you're talking the NFL.