the blasted thing up.
But man, are those East Coast pompoms waiving wildly. Why, the team which finished the final three games of the season 1-2 and the final eight 4-4 is on a straight path to the Super Bowl. Why, we have Giants players, probably the same ones throwing the poor kid under the bus for the better part of two years, suddenly saying, "Eli can beat you," as did Brandon Jacobs, who isn't shy about saying much of anything, but then that's a topic for another day.
Shudder at the thought, but hey, these Giants went to Tampa Bay, faced a team which didn't even finish with as good a record (9-7), a team which had lost three of its previous four games, a team which barely averaged 20 points a game and a team with nary one Pro Bowl player playing in a division without one Pro Bowl player, and of all things, won.
But combine the Giants' first playoff victory since winning the NFC title in 2000, which somehow on the other side of the Hudson gives the Giants a leg up on the Cowboys, who haven't won a playoff game since 1996 even if the majority of the Cowboys players were teenagers back then, along with the valiant 38-35 loss to the Patriots and that makes the Giants a "hot" team.
And there are those proclaiming these two games the best two-game stretch "of Manning's career," even if he threw for all of 185 yards against the Bucs. Seems to me Manning was darn good in those two games against the Cowboys this year, completing 51 of 75 passes for five touchdowns, three interceptions and a QB rating of 94.9.
Also read where the Giants solved Rubic's Cube, otherwise known as the mysterious Tampa 2 defense. Well did you watch the game? The Bucs abandoned their Tampa 2, playing their other safety in the box to stop the Giants running game. Manning was throwing against single coverage most of the game, and at least one astute observer, but then he works on the New Jersey side of the River, pointed out Manning made 'em pay for their defensive changeup.
Well, who knows, maybe this has been Manning's best stretch of his career, but then just maybe "best" is relative in a part of the country given to hyperbole, good and bad.
And oh, don't worry so much about perennial Pro Bowl tight end Jeremy Shockey missing. He only caught 17 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys in those two games. They got some guy named the Boss playing tight end now. Maybe they'll ask him to sing Thunder Road, too.
Is this all silly or what?
Now I don't know, you guys might be buying into all this. Your prerogative. If not, better fasten your sanity belt, because by Sunday reading and listening to all this stuff will have you talking to yourself.
Maybe it's a good thing. Maybe these 13-3 Cowboys need a burr up their saddle if the memory of last year's cruel playoff loss is not burr enough. Or maybe there is burr enough since 47 guys on this 53-man roster have never won an NFL playoff game in their lives.
But me, I sense a renewed focus when it comes time to focus on football. Ask yourself: Why would a team which has come so far, yet hasn't won a thing, suddenly let down its guard? Does that even make a lick of sense to you? Why would this coaching staff allow that? Why would all these intangible reasons supposedly responsible for the team's success this year suddenly become their downfall?
Warning: If nothing else, do not mitigate fresh minds and bodies. Nor you guys at Texas Stadium. And certainly not having to travel halfway across the country this time of year.
Oh yeah, one other thing: Pity unto those if the dang piñata starts striking back.