Giants Are Favorite To Win Superbowl - per ESPN Insider

Giants Are Favorite To Win Superbowl per ESPN Insider Found this and thought to share with you folks:

Giants are a Super Bowl favorite
KC Joyner
5 January 2012, 1:48 PM

In August, I wrote an article for Insider detailing eight reasons the New York Giants should be considered the favorites to win the NFC East.

The genesis for that article stemmed from the overwhelming amount of attention the Philadelphia Eagles and their Dream Team were getting. The consensus in the football world was that the Eagles would win the NFC East, but the Giants had a number of personnel advantages over the Eagles and should never have been overlooked as favorites to win the division.

Now it seems the same thing is happening regarding Big Blue’s chances at making a successful Super Bowl run. The consensus seems to be that the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints or New England Patriots are by far the favorites to win the NFL’s postseason tournament, but there are eight reasons the Giants should be one of the favorites to win it all.

1. Eli Manning is an elite quarterback.

If the hullabaloo that happened when Manning said he was an elite quarterback was any indication, there is still some question as to whether he belongs in the elite category.

But should there be any doubt that Manning belongs in highest echelon of passers?

Just look at some of his achievements this year:

- His 4,933 yards are the sixth-most in a season in NFL history.

- He set the record for the most touchdown passes in the fourth quarter in one season (15).

- He had the second-highest passer rating in the fourth quarter (110.0).

- He had six fourth-quarter comebacks, including one at New England that ended Tom Brady’s NFL record 31-game home win streak and the Patriots’ 20-game regular-season home win streak.

- His 8.38 yards per attempt (YPA) mark was the third-best in the league for quarterbacks with at least 500 pass attempts. To get some perspective on this, consider that he was slightly ahead of the much more heralded Drew Brees in this area.

These totals don’t just say elite — they are the types of notable items one puts on a Hall of Fame résumé right next to the Super Bowl win and Super Bowl MVP trophy.

2. The Giants have maybe the best trio of wide receivers in the NFL.

A strong case can be made that Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham are the best set of wideouts in the league.

The Giants led the league in completions of 40 or more yards by tallying 18 such receptions, and the Cruz-Nicks combination accounted for 14 of those plays. To put it another way, those two had more 40-yard receptions this season than 25 NFL teams.

Cruz’s statistical items of note don’t stop there, either. As was noted in a recent blog post, Cruz’s 18.7 yards per catch was the highest among the 72 players who had at least 50 catches this season. It was also the highest total any receiver has averaged on at least 82 catches since future Hall of Famer Torry Holt’s 2000 campaign.

3. New York’s offensive line is vastly underrated.

The Giants’ offensive line takes a lot of grief because the G-Men ranked last in the league in rushing yards, but this group was also responsible for the Giants’ 4.5 percent sacks-allowed rate that was tied for fifth-best in the league.

In addition, the running game may not be at the level one expects from a Tom Coughlin-coached club, but the Giants did top the 100-yard mark on the ground in four of their last five games, so this isn’t the weakness it was earlier in the season.

4. Perry Fewell’s defense hawks the ball well.

New York’s defense gets bashed for its passing yards allowed (4,082, fourth-highest in the league), but it doesn’t get anywhere near the credit it deserves for being a superb ballhawking unit.

The Giants’ 20 interceptions were tied for sixth-most in the NFL, and their 3.4 percent interception rate was tied for 10th.

5. Fewell’s defense also gets after the opposing quarterback.

This group had to deal with Osi Umenyiora missing seven games and Justin Tuck being out for four games, yet it didn’t miss a beat statistically (48 sacks, tied for third-best in the league).

What is even more impressive is that the Giants tallied sacks without having to bring additional pass-rushers. According to ESPN’s Stats & Information group, the Giants ranked second in the league with sacks registered with four or fewer pass-rushers (see “More With Less” chart).

A big reason for this is Jason Pierre-Paul, who is playing so well that he was recently named the NFC defensive player of the month for December.

6. The Giants have shown they can go toe-to-toe with the contenders.

As noted earlier, the Giants won a road game at New England. They also nearly ended the Packers’ 17-game winning streak and were 10 yards from tying the 49ers late in the fourth quarter in a game at San Francisco.

7. They won’t have to face the Saints until the NFC Championship Game.

The Saints are the only contending team that the Giants didn’t fare well against, but part of that was because New York was missing multiple starters from its lineup.

Even if one doesn’t take that into consideration, the NFC playoff structure is set up so that the Giants won’t have to face the Saints until the NFC championship — if New Orleans makes it that far.

8. The Giants are as healthy as they have been in awhile.

The injury report hasn’t been kind to New York for most of this year, but that is changing at the right time. Manningham isn’t on this week’s injury list, Ahmad Bradshaw and Umenyiora are both considered probable to play and even Jake Ballard, an underrated vertical threat who caught the winning touchdown pass in the win against the Patriots, returned to practice this week.

These items don’t guarantee that the Giants will win it all, but they make a strong case as to why New York shouldn’t be getting overlooked as a strong Super Bowl contender.

KC Joyner, aka the Football Scientist, is a regular contributor to ESPN Insider. He can also be found on Twitter @kcjoynertfs and his website. He is the author of an annual fantasy football draft guide, which is currently available, and “Blindsided: Why the Left Tackle Is Overrated and Other Contrarian Football Thoughts.”

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