Friday, November 22, 2013

NFL Picks Week Twelve: Am I Ready to Start Believing In This?

I have an unfortunate quirk in that I tend to actually believe my sports teams still have a chance as long as they aren't mathematically eliminated. This has led me to much anxiety -- or as I call it "The Mets" -- but it also gave me the foolish thought that despite their horrendous start this season, the New York Giants were not actually done for the season.

This was, in short, lunacy. After all, the Giants started out 0-6 and didn't look particularly good in the process. There was the season opener in Dallas in which they probably would have won were it not for six turnovers, and the sixth defeat in which they easily could have come back against Chicago but failed. But in between those two games the New York Giants did not look anything close to particularly good. And that put them in the NFC East cellar with considerable hole to climb out of. After all, making the playoffs after losing your first six games isn't impossible (theoretically), but it would certainly be difficult for the Giants to pull off the long, long list of teams that have pulled off the feat.

However, I'm silly. Also kind of dumb. And for that reason, I started telling people the season wasn't done. The Giants had the fortunate luck of being in the NFC East, which this season is more or less terrible, or as I like to say, "evenly balanced." That meant that a little run and suddenly Big Blue was right back in the thick of it. This was the mantra I was preaching when I went to see the Giants play the Vikings (courtesy of Listerine®), and the one I continued to preach a week later when I took my dad to see the Giants visit the Eagles (courtesy of The Eagles, strangely enough).

Suddenly the Giants were 0-2 (albeit against less-than-stellar competition), and afte a bye reeled off wins against the Oakland Raiders and Aaron Rogers-less Green Bay Packers.

And suddenly they were 4-6. And perhaps more shockingly, just 1.5 games out of first place due to their division rivals ineptitude.

So... is it time for me to believe they might actually pull this off? After all, New York would still need to win its next three games to even break over the .500 barrier, a task easier said than done in the NFL. But the defense has begun to look far sharper, particularly since the team acquired linebacker Jon Beason, and the offense has done, well, enough to win four straight games. The Giants now have a showdown with the Cowboys this Sunday at the Meadowlands that more or less could be their season. After that, there is a very real chance they could be facing the hapless Redskins on Dec. 1 with a share of first place on the line.

All of that seems ludicrous, but the fact that we're even talking about this is crazy enough. The fact that, suddenly, the Giants taking a run at the NFC East is a very real possibility is equally as insane.

But it is real.

Considering the Giants' two Super Bowl runs in recent memory, in which they knocked off several teams with superior records to unexpectedly knock off a favored New England Patriots team to win the Lombardi Trophy both times, there are already some people saying the Giants are destined to run the table and win another championship this February. They are 4-6 at the moment so those people are, clearly, joking. ... But it's uneasy joking.

Consider this. Last weekend I spoke with my cousin's fiance, a Patriots fan who told me, "Ugh, I can already see it. The Giants are going to run the table and beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl again."

I thought this was funny, and so I told a few other people about the exchange. Amazingly, everyone had the same response:

"Please, the Patriots aren't going to the Super Bowl."

Well, they probably aren't. There are at least three teams better than them in the AFC. But the fact that it's not the Giants making the Super Bowl that people find unrealistic is funny but, well, totally insane.

Maybe I'm not the only one who is starting to believe this.

Last week: 7-5-3
Season: 76-81-5

New Orleans (-9.5) over ATLANTA
Pittsburgh (+1.5) over CLEVELAND
DETROIT (-9) over Tampa Bay
GREEN BAY (-4.5) over Minnesota
KANSAS CITY (-4.5) over San Diego
Chicago (+1) over ST. LOUIS
Carolina (-4.5) over MIAMI
NY Jets (+3.5) over BALTIMORE
HOUSTON (-10) over Jacksonville
OAKLAND (+1) over Tennessee
Indianapolis (+2.5) over ARIZONA
NY GIANTS (-2.5) over Dallas
Denver (-2.5) over NEW ENGLAND
San Francisco (-5.5) over WASHINGTON

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