By Ernie Palladino
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The line says six points, but it might as well be a million.
Few are giving the Giants a chance to win Sunday’s game in San Francisco, and probably rightfully so. The 49ers have played like Super Bowl champions the last couple of weeks, way good enough for people to try to pass the Vince Lombardi Trophy over to them even at this early juncture.
You outscore two teams 79-3, and even though they’re the Jets and Bills, people take notice.
The Giants certainly have. Not that they’ve ever been scared of walking into Candlestick Park and beating the Niners. Never have been. After all, last year’s NFC overtime victory didn’t exactly come in the friendly confines of MetLife Stadium. They fought a real battle to get past San Francisco that day, and Eli Manning took more than his share of wounds in that 20-17 squeaker.
So is it any wonder that when the media informed the Giants that just about everyone on the continent would be picking the 49ers to win this week, they just sort of shrugged?
“Nobody gives us a chance to win,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “We’ll see.”
Pretty stock answer right there for Coughlin. A statement of fact followed by his trademark look into the future.
Think this guy can fill in for that injured player, Tom?
Think this 2007 team is any match for the undefeated Patriots?
Think the Giants can beat a team which has used its defense to pound teams into submission?
More often than not, or at least often enough to find a comfort level, the answer to “we’ll see” has turned into a solid “yes” by the time the clock runs to 0:00. Teams under Coughlin have a tendency to walk into places others only dared to tread and come away victorious. The underdog mentality — us against the world — is as much a part of Coughlin’s locker room as ankle tape. And it works for the Giants.
If, indeed, a team that has rolled up 1,000 yards of total offense, including a franchise record 621 against Buffalo last week, beats the Giants, it won’t be because the Giants feared the Niners. Or that they listened to any of the chatter bandied about outside the walls of their locker room.
“So?” defensive end Justin Tuck said of the naysayers. “Who cares about that? I like the fact that we’re underdogs. I think we’ve been in that role a lot.
“The fact of the matter is they’re a good football team and they’re playing well. I think if I was a betting man and didn’t have anything to do with this team, I’d probably pick them as favorites, too.”
Tuck said the Niners’ offense, which now features the Giants’ Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham and former running back Brandon Jacobs, who is still awaiting his season debut after a knee injury, has added some twists since last year.
Scheming problems, he called it. Line up one way, run the play in the polar opposite of the alignment. They were devised to stymie the Giants’ pass rushers, who haven’t sacked many people as yet, and are getting more frustrated by the minute.
Still, Tuck believes. Just like Coughlin believes. Just like Manning and his patchwork receiving corps believe.
So go ahead. Lay the six. You might be right.
As Coughlin might say, “We’ll see.”
Giants fans, are you irked by this week’s line? Be heard in the comments below!