Palladino: Giants Have Always Fed Off Underdog Role
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‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
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Ernie is the author of “Lombardi and Landry.”
The Vegas odds makers have no idea the kind of favor they did the Giants when their Super Bowl lines came out after Sunday’s 20-17 overtime win in San Francisco.
The Giants came out three-point underdogs.
Just the way they like it.
For years now, Tom Coughlin’s players have all but begged the books to pick against them. Despite Ann Mara’s live, podium admonishment of Terry Bradshaw for consistently picking against her late husband’s team, you’ll never convince the players that a little well-placed disrespect doesn’t go a long way.
The line makes sense of course; as much sense as the 2 ½-points the accountants handed San Francisco’s top-ranked run defense, as much sense as the 7 ½ points they posted for Aaron Rodgers’ pinball offense in Green Bay.
And need anyone be reminded of that gaping, two-touchdown chasm Vegas put out for Super Bowl XVII against the then-undefeated Patriots?
Justin Tuck remembers it all, and loves it. It all feeds into the “Us-Against-The-World” mentality that fuels much of the Giants’ success. Shock the world and all that.
“It’s been that way for a while now,” Tuck said this week as the Giants prepared for their short flight to Indianapolis. “I think we kind of like it that way. Just keep rooting against us.”
They might as well enjoy it, since the underdog status is much their own doing. When you’re venturing into enemy territory all the time, as the Giants have done in five times in their last six games of Super Bowl run-up, it leaves the so-called experts with precious little to justify favorites status.
Even the fact that Coughlin’s bunch has won a league-record five straight road playoff games hasn’t dissuaded the odds makers a bit, either.
For some reason, the Giants have always been easy to pick against. Easy to love, maybe. Certainly a heck of a lot easier than that team that shares MetLife Stadium with them — you know, the ones watching it all on TV these days. But to install them as favorites in a big game? Not so much.
Not even when it’s so obvious the Giants are playing better ball than their supposedly superior opponent. They’re actually playing better defense than the Patriots, who had just as serious issues on that side of the ball as the Giants during the regular season.
They, in fact, came within a split second of losing last week’s AFC Championship game to the Ravens. Had Lee Evans controlled that end zone pass for another split second, the game never would have come down to Billy Cundiff missing that 32-yard field goal.
The Giants, despite having to go to overtime to achieve their win over San Francisco, got themselves a great special teams play in the extra period to set up the winning field goal, that after stopping the Niners on their final four possessions after they tied the game.
Still, Vegas deems the Giants underdogs, even as Lucas Oil Stadium prepares for an onslaught of blue-jerseyed Giants fans, who will invade the home of Eli Manning’s big brother, Peyton to cheer the leading man of the 2011 show.
The Giants will be the favorites in the hearts of those who come to boo the Patriots, the AFC South Colts’ former divisional foes in the East.
But to the bookies, legal and otherwise, Big Blue might just as well be Big Red, stuck in the deficit column of the betting books.
Just the way the Giants like it.
Pick away, Bradshaw. The only thing to fear is fear itself — in the person of Ann Mara.
Forget the spread — will the Giants beat the Patriots straight up next Sunday? Sound off below…