Jul 09, 2020

New season means new NFL underdogs

Ryan Tubongbanua / The Collegian

So who will become this year’s New York Giants?

No, I don’t necessarily mean who’s going to win the Super Bowl. The question has a little more to it.

Let’s face it NFL fans, some of the “experts” you read about in sports magazines, Internet sites, and see on television tend to put their foot in their mouths with their predictions.

Here’s what we should all recognize as the 2008 season kicks off.

The football world became too infatuated with New England and Indianapolis in 2007. If teams were not named Patriots, Colts, Cowboys or Chargers, they had no chance to play on the first Sunday of February, according to so-called experts.

These darlings of pro football were what the experts believed in.

And what did these people think of the New York Giants before the 2007 season?

How about thoughts of quarterback Eli Manning being bashed for not maturing into a leader or receiver Plaxico Burress and defensive end Michael Strahan overstaying their welcome?

And how about the city of New York calling for coach Tom Coughlin’s head?

Yet, through all the preseason criticism, it was Manning’s leadership, Burress’ big plays, a fierce rush led by Strahan and the coaching of Coughlin that got the Giants to sneak up on the expert picks and take home the Lombardi Trophy.

Mark Cornelison / McClatchy Tribune

This was an under-the-radar team that got me to think about which team can pull a New York Giant-like run this year, despite the sad fact that the same four teams mentioned earlier are being picked again to play in the Super Bowl.

There are teams that do have the potential to become this year’s New York Giants, simply because, like the “G-Men” of a year ago, they too are flying under the radar.

Out in the NFC, the Seahawks are playing for Coach Mike Holmgren, in his last season, this year and the defense has one of the best group of linebackers in Lofa Tatupu, Julian Peterson and Leroy Hill.

Though he may not be Shaun Alexander, Julius Jones will be more motivated with his change of scenery as he breathes new life into the running attack.

Minnesota is another contender because it has talent everywhere, especially along both lines. The trade for defensive end Jared Allen means the Vikings have a much needed pass rush.

On offense, former Fresno State receiver Bernard Berrian will stretch the field in the Vikings’ passing game, while the line will help benefit running back Adrian Peterson and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.

Down South, the Saints bring their own version of a storm warning, the threat to blow away opponents on offense.

Tight end Jeremy Shockey’s presence means less double teams for receiver Marques Colston, plus running back Reggie Bush will line up at the slot, which makes it more difficult for defenses.

Out in the AFC, the Browns have gone from division laughing-stock to a potential contender.

Reciever Braylon Edwards and tight end Kellen Winslow are future stars and running back Jamal Lewis should have one more thousand-yard- season left in him. On defense, the three-time Super Bowl champion Willie McGinest will provide a leadership voice in this potential playoff year for Browns’ fans.

Jacksonville was crazy busy in the offseason, getting receivers Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson in free agency to upgrade the passing game and drafting defensive linemen Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves to provide a pass rush.

But the Jaguars will have to improve against conference heavyweights after going just 1-3 against Indianapolis, San Diego and New England in 2007.

Even the other New York team may potentially keep the Lombardi Trophy in the city.

It’s more than just Brett Favre for the Jets; the defense has personnel that are better fit for them this year thanks to free agency and the draft.

Plus, the Patriots, Chargers, Titans and Seahawks are the only 2007 playoff teams the Jets have to face this year.

So, who will become the Giants of Super Bowl XLIII?

Could it be the fearsome foursome that NFL experts love to rave about or an unnoticed team flying under-the-radar?

Or could the team making a Giant- like run be the New York Giants themselves?

One thing is for sure, for all football fans and the experts of the football world.

Keep an eye on the radar screen known as NFL football because something under the radar just might creep up.

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