By Jason Keidel
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Ever notice that when the pundits gloss over the Giants they plow through the frigid, playoff twilight?
As the football scribes pound their keyboards, fingers white with chalk while picking the predictable Denver-San Francisco Super Bowl, the G-Men cruise by the NFL’s sonar once again.
We can talk X’s and O’s and read option and Tampa Two until we’re blue. But the one, essential area where the Giants are most fertile is the holy gridiron trinity of GM/HC/QB. Jerry Reese is easily a top-five personnel guy. Tom Coughlin has gone from hot seat to easy street with two rings.
And Eli Manning, the youngest (and winningest) member of America’s football aristocracy, has inherited the family’s fiberglass limbs and blue-collar grit. As long as he can still thumb his overalls and charm the Tri-State with his southern modesty, the Giants are relevant.
The Giants often sprint to their typical 6-2 start, then make their fans fetch the Rolaids in the second half of the season. And this year should be no different. In their first eight games, Big Blue faces only two 2012 playoff teams (Broncos and Vikings), and only Denver is considered a lock to return this year.
Eli & Co. should get fat on Kansas City, Carolina and two games against the rebuilding Eagles. Should they defeat Dallas on Sunday night, a dash to 6-2 is quite feasible.
The Giants have three soft pockets in the second half, against Oakland, San Diego and Detroit. They have two tough home games against the Packers and the trendy Super Bowl pick, Seattle. Along with two games against Washington and their final game against the Cowboys, the Giants would sign for 5-3 right now.
And that’s where the Giants will finish: 11-5, preening from their ancestral perch atop the NFC East. Whenever they fizzle one year, they sizzle the next. So it’s a positive precursor that they melted in the Meadowlands snow last season.
Are they good enough to defeat San Francisco?
Not on the road. Two years ago, they could stampede over statuesque Alex Smith. Now Jim Harbaugh trots out this RoboCop of a QB, Colin Kaepernick, who’s built like a free safety, runs like Alydar and throws like Bob Gibson.
They weren’t, however, supposed to beat Joe Montana and the three-peating Niners in 1990, before Leonard Marshall knocked Montana into San Jose and, a fated fumble later, Matt Bahr kicked the Giants into the Whitney Houston Classic.
The Giants have never lost an NFC Title Game. If they get there again, perhaps stats and trends and logic could be blown over by the tornadic winds of momentum, just as they pushed the Ravens into the Harbowl.
The pistol formation could backfire after a year of dissection from hooded scientists who bolt themselves in dark rooms and brood under a cone of projector’s light. It’s hard to buy trendy teams, formations or any notion that a college playbook can usurp the golden ethos of NFL success.
Give me the old-school pocket passer who doesn’t look as pretty as the track stars galloping down the sidelines, but winds up healthy in January. Guys like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Andrew Luck and last year’s surprise Super Bowl prince, Joe Flacco.
A wishbone quarterback has yet to hoist a Lombardi Trophy. Until one does, give me the safer sensibilities of the pocket passer.
Like Peyton Manning. Like Eli Manning. Maybe MetLife will be a family affair.
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