The New York Giants long, strange trip has finally gotten them to Detroit. Whether or not this whole ordeal will turn into an excellent adventure depends entirely on whether or not the Giants can take care of business tonight by dispatching the currently homeless Minnesota Vikings.
Defensive end Justin Tuck admitted that the Giants are "tired" from all the traveling and twists and turns they have endured since leaving for Minnesota Saturday morning.
"A lot of guys are jet-lagged and tired," defensive end Justin Tuck said from the Giants’ Detroit hotel earlier tonight. "Right now we’re just trying to get off our feet and trying to get our minds back into the football game. There’s been lot of ups downs and uncertainty around it. At least now we know where we’re playing and there are things we have to handle on the football field.
"We’re tough minded football team. We know this game is going to come down to mental toughness, and I think that’s one of our strong points."
While we are waiting for tonight's 7:20 p.m. ET kickoff, and while some of you are still trying to figure out how you are going to watch the game, let's look at the impact of the events of the past few days and see who might have gained an edge from this very strange chapter in NFL history.
The traveling Giants. NFL teams thrive on routine, especially those coached by Tom Coughlin. The Giants have not been in any sort of normal routine, and have not even practiced any football, since leaving New Jersey 3.5 hours earlier than usual on Saturday morning. Re-routed to Kansas City Saturday. Up by 5 a.m. Sunday thinking they had to travel to Minnesota. Zipping over to Detroit once the Metrodome roof collapsed.
Basically, the Giants have done nothing but sit around in hotels, or ride on airplanes and buses for three days. No doubt they are tired and anxious to have this trip over with. They need to win this football game, though, to stay tied with Philadelphia and right in the thick of the NFC playoff picture.
Analysis: I think Tuck is right when he talks about the "mental toughness" of this team, and I think it shows tonight. The Vikings have not traveled as much, but this has not been easy on them, either, and they are 5-7 without anything meaningful to play for.
Vikings lose a home game. The game is in Detroit, and the Lions gave away tickets. We know there should be a good crowd a Ford Field since so many people braved the freezing weather in Detroit to get free tickets that distribution was cut off after less than two hours.
Analysis: This has to be to the Giants' advantage. The Vikings lose what could be a raucous home crowd. Detroit is an NFC North rival of the Vikings, and I can't imagine that a heavy Detroit crowd will wind up pro-Vikings.
The Brett Favre Factor. Favre is still calling himself "doubtful" for tonight's game, and I'm still not believing him. He will do whatever he has to do to play.
Analysis: Do we really care if Favre plays or not? If he does, you have to wonder how well he will be able to throw the ball down the field, so jam the line of scrimmage and find out. If he doesn't, who is afraid of Tarvaris Jackson? Besides, the extra 36 hours means a much better chance that wide receivers Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks are able to play for the Giants.
The Philadelphia Factor. Much has been about the fact that the Giants lose a day in terms of rest and preparation for the Eagles. I don't even want to think about that, all I care about is the Giants winning the game they have to play tonight. That is what they need to do.
Analysis: Let's worry about Philly when it's time to worry about Philly -- and that doesn't start until Tuesday. First of all, it's not like Tom Coughlin and Co. have to study a ton of film to know exactly what the Eagles are all about. If they don't know by now, and don't already understand how they need to approach a game against the Eagles, another day of film study isn't going to help. As for that whole day of rest thing, it would be nice, but come next Sunday it won't matter. Teams have been playing on Monday night and then the following Sunday for decades now, so I just can't buy that it should be considered an issue.
The TV factor. Right now, it seems like Giants fans who do not live in New York City, Albany or the various Minneapolis markets who will get the game on FOX will be shut out. Unless, of course, you have DirecTV, NFL Sunday Ticket or feel like heading to a local watering hole that offers Sunday Ticket.