this play tonight. No, no, this cause for angst is almost entirely the result of three awfully frustrating weeks for the New York Giants, two of which I got to witness up close in person.
See, after that super duper win over the New England Patriots a month ago, Big Blue was 6-2 and looking like a surefire bet to take the NFC East and possibly challenge a Green Bay team that is the clear class of the League for conference supremacy. Then San Francisco happened. And then Philadelphia happened. And then this week New Orleans happened. Now the Giants basically have to beat the 11-0 Green Bay Packers Sunday afternoon or, come January, absolutely nothing will happen.
So facing the top team in the League when they're undefeated and it's do or die time is pretty much a death sentence, right?
Well.... maybe not. See, Green Bay is just the second defending champion in NFL history to start its title defense with wins in its first 11 games, which has got everyone talking about the prospect of the League's first 19-0 season. The only other team to complete that feat was the 1998 Denver Broncos, and while the Broncos were clearly the best team in the League that season and took a second consecutive Super Bowl title, a funny thing happened in Week 15 on the way to perfection. That week the Broncos came to the Meadowlands to face a New York Giants team that was in the midst of an otherwise unremarkable 8-8 season -- and at one point they were four games under .500 that season.
The Broncos, meanwhile, were coming off the emotional high of saving their perfect season a week earlier with a wild 35-31 win over division rival Kansas City, and facing the Giants seemed a minor quibble on the road to history. After all, the Broncos had John Elway, Shannon Sharpe, Terrell Davis, Rod Smith and Steve Atwater. Ten Broncos would be elected to the Pro Bowl that year. The Giants had Kent Graham, whose biggest claim to fame is sounding like the love child of Superman's alter ego and a delicious breakfast cereal.
So of course Denver would keep steam rolling along against the hapless G-Men, and everything was going according to plan in the fourth quarter when Denver had a 16-13 lead late in the game despite not playing in the same manner they usually do. And then Graham, in what would almost certainly be the greatest moment ever in his career -- by a hefty margin at that -- launched a home run pass that was hauled in in the end zone by a 24-year-old wide receiver named Amani Toomer with 48 seconds remaining. Thus ended the Broncos' run at perfection.
haul in a game-winning touchdown against the Broncos at Giants Stadium -- although the second time was with a far better quarterback -- and Toomer, for his part would eventually become the most accomplished wide receiver in Giants history. The Giants, meanwhile, have had runs at ending perfection since, nearly toppling the 15-0 2007 Patriots in the final game of the season and then, uh, handling their business when they got a second chance a month later. Perhaps you've heard. Perhaps it was vengeance for denying Pats fans the opportunity to watch the Giants make history nine years earlier.
So, really, what I'm telling you all, is that the Giants have a knack of facing teams on their way to a perfect season and spoiling it for them. Which is to say, they've done it twice. Either way, I feel good about this week, particularly since the Packers' defense is not exactly wowing the world these days and Ahmad Bradshaw might be back. My excitement over this is almost certainly misguided and likely to be dashed Sunday evening, but my hopes are still high.
And hey, even if those hopes aren't to be met full on, at least I can revel in the fact that Philadelphia lost again last night, meaning the Dream Team's dreams are probably dashed. It does, however, also mean that once again I have failed to get my weekly picks in in time for the Thursday game. Of course I blame that entirely on the fact that I spent most of yesterday putting together this fine piece of journalism, which includes my favorite comment I've gotten from a reader in a while, mostly because it proves he clearly didn't get my point. Of course I know parallel lines don't intersect. That's why the line is clever.
In any event, I'm going to give myself credit for picking the Seahawks because a) I accepted losses after the fact in two Thursday games already, and b) I was going to pick Seattle because Qwest Field is a tough place to play and I really believe the Eagles are a bunch of quitters. So yeah. Here's to a recovery this week.
Last week: 3-11-2 (This was probably my worst week in history)
SEATTLE (???) over Philadelphia
NY GIANTS (+7) over Green Bay
Tennessee (+3) over BUFFALO
Kansas City (+7) over CHICAGO
Oakland (+3) over MIAMI
Denver (+1) over MINNESOTA
NEW ENGLAND (-21) over Indianapolis
PITTSBURGH (-7) over Cincinnati
TAMPA BAY (-3) over Carolina
NY Jets (-3) over WASHINGTON
HOUSTON (+3) over Atlanta
Baltimore (-7) over CLEVELAND
ARIZONA (+5) over Dallas
SAN FRANCISCO (-14) over St. Louis
NEW ORLEANS (-9) over Detroit
San Diego (-3) over JACKSONVILLE
There you have it. Happy Friday, everyone.