In shocking news, an ESPN.com poll today showed that the New York Giants are at least getting some degree of respect this season. With over 40,000 votes, I can’t make this stuff up. So does it feel Giants fans? Make some whiny comment about being under-appreciated here…
This Sunday’s biggest NFL game is undoubtedly Sunday night’s NFC East showdown between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys; winner takes all, while the loser packs up their bags and heads home. In general, the more time I spend thinking about the NFC East the more flustered I become; it’s hard to me to imagine a conference filled with Eagles, Giants, and Cowboys fans.
Talk about obnoxious, practically the whole state of New Jersey routes for one of these teams (I got $20 on The Situation being a Cowboys fan). This in mind, I think it’s fair to call this division the armpit of the NFL. So shake off that New Year’s Eve hangover, and prepare for this year’s edition of the NFC East’s Battle for Mediocrity.
We all know I’ll be rooting for Dallas, so I won’t take my usual 3+ paragraphs to bash on the Giants and Eli Manning. After polling my strategic Giants advisors, the general sentiment seems to be that Giants fans are nervous, because they don’t know which Giants team will show up on any given day. If they show up to play, they should have no problem taking care of Dallas. But like a filet-o’fish sandwich, once the game starts to go down you’re never sure what you’re going to get. In general, I agree with this sentiment.
To make a case for the Cowboys, I was mildly shocked to see how good Tony Romo has been this year. For all the praise given to Eli, Romo is having a far better season statistically.
Tony Romo: 3,895 yards, 29 TDs, 13 turnovers, 102.2 rating.
Eli Manning: 4,587 yards, 26 TDs, 22 turnovers, 90.3 rating.
Any season where a quarterback has a 100+ rating is truly a great season of quarterbacking. I for one think that Tony Romo’s hand will be just fine, but unfortunately I don’t think this game will come down to QB play.
The Giants will win this game because they’ll be able to control the clock, and because their defensive line, long their strength, will be able to put some pressure on Tony Romo. On the clock control front, the Giants have been running the ball well and are healthy. They’ve only lost one game where they rushed for 100+ yards (to the Packers), and I think a heavy dose of the run game will keep Eli’s opportunities to turn the ball over to a minimum. If they do manage to get the running game going, that will make things so much easier for Eli and will let him rack up some passing yardage (as he’s done effectively this year). On the defensive end of the ball Justin Tuck is healthy once again, and the Giants pass rush needs to fuel their defensive attack. When the pass rush is on and Eli is able to limit his mistakes, the Giants tend to win.
I’m taking the Giants in this one, with a final score of 28 – 23. But for the record, I think if the Giants, Cowboys, and Eagles played a round robin tournament, they’d all choke up an equal number of games to one another. So goes the NFC East.Category: NFL
Yesterday was one of those games that every Patriots fan watched with apprehension – the Patriots were turning the ball over too many times and as the game lingered on, the score remained tied. Then, when they needed to, the Patriots defense came up big. Tom Brady was given the ball back just in time to run a 2-minute drill, and the boy did his thing.
I must admit, as soon as the ball was back in Brady’s hands the apprehension 90% melted away. But the 10% doubt that lingered was that 10% that can sting – when everyone in the stadium knows that Tom is about to do his thing, the backlash when he fails is twice as strong. Brady certainly had no doubt about what he was going to do, and the Joe Montana comparisons continued. Brady completed 7 of 8 passes for 78 yards, eventually threading a bullet through tight coverage to Aaron Hernandez for a go-ahead game winning touchdown. The video above serves mainly to draw your attention to Hernandez’s wonderful touchdown celebration, where first unlocks his safe before making it rain bills in the endzone. Well done Aaron. Needless to say both of the Patriots’ tight ends are savages – nice drafting Billy boy.
Now for this week’s edition of mind-blowing Tom Brady numbers:
1) This was Tom Brady’s 32nd 4th quarter comeback – that’s two full seasons worth of them.
2) The Patriots have now won 31 consecutive regular season home games. Yes, 31.
3) Tom Brady and Bill Belichick tied Don Shula and Dan Marino as the winningest quarteback-coach combination in NFL history. Brady and Belichick are now 116-33 compared to Shula and Marino’s 116-68.
While this game was way to close to comfort and Rob Ryan undoubtedly messed with the Patriots, this week saw the Patriots come through in the clutch and saw further improvement from the defense – both keys if that Pats are to have any playoff success. The first 58 minutes weren’t pretty, but the final 2 couldn’t have looked much better. We’ll take it.Category: NFL
By Jimmy Cunningham, howiGit New York Writer, Manhattan, NY
This blog loves lists so I decided to take a crack at the best sports franchises of my generation. I took a look at the teams from the four major sports from 1990 through 2010. I based my decision on championships won, winning percentage, division titles won, finals made, the length of time the team was “good”, and the number of years each team made the playoffs.
Teams of note from readers of the blog that were considered but did not make the list include (aka Honorable Mentions):
Boston Red Sox- The Red Sox broke their 86 year “curse” during this time frame and then won again two years later. They were one of only 4 teams to win multiple championships during the generation; they had a winning percentage of .545, won 3 division titles, made the World Series twice, the playoffs ten times, and were over .500 seventeen times. A very good resume but not strong enough to make the list.
Philadelphia Eagles- Another favorite team that we give a light of coverage, the Eagles are another decent resume that did not make the list. The Eagles won a very good .577 percent of their games, were over .500 sixteen times, won six division titles, had 13 playoff appearances, and made the Super Bowl once. The glaring number missing from their resume is championships — zero.
New York Giants- I came very close to making them tenth and could make a very good argument for them. But I am not as big a homer as howiGit so I am leaving the New York Football Giants off of the list. The Giants won .540 percent of their games, were over .500 fourteen times, won 5 division titles, made 9 playoff appearances, and won 2 Super Bowls (one of them arguably the biggest upset during this time frame). Now to the list.
10. Atlanta Braves- If this was only about championships the Braves would not be on here, only winning one. However during the regular season the Braves were the most impressive baseball team. They won 15 division titles, made the playoffs 17 times, and won .572 percent of their games. They made the World Series five times and were over .500 eighteen times. The Braves pitching staff dominated the National League for a majority of the generation but could only get it together in the playoffs one time.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins- I do not know a thing about hockey; during this generation there was a lock-out and a strike, they measure wins in points instead of winning percentage, and the divisions and number of teams have changed about 23 times in the last 20 years. With that being said I wanted to include a hockey team or two. The Penguins have made the Stanley Cup four times winning three , averaged 87.5 points a year (whatever that means), won 7 division titles, and made the playoffs 15 times.
8. Dallas Cowboys- The self-proclaimed “America’s Team” won 3 Super Bowls in the 90’s anchored by Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, and Michael Irvin. They have a .562 winning percentage and went to the playoffs 12 times. The Cowboys won the NFC East title a division high 8 times. Since their glory days the Cowboys have flaked out in the playoffs more often than not, winning one playoff game since 2000. How about those Cowboys? I feel dirty, let’s move on.
7. Detroit Red Wings- Another hockey team? Even I can see the Red Wings have had a very good 20 years. They won 4 Stanley Cups throughout the generation, making it to the championship game 6 times; they have averaged 102 points a year, and as far as I can tell have made the playoffs every year that they have taken place. They have been the best hockey team since 1990.
6. San Antonio Spurs- The Spurs really should be higher but I do not know who I would bump. When looking at all the winning the Spurs have done it is very surprising. They boast a .665 winning percentage, and were under .500 missing the playoffs only once. That one time netted them Tim Duncan in the NBA draft, so I would say that worked out. They have been in the NBA finals 4 times, never losing, and never playing there in two consecutive years. The Spurs have been the most consistent winners of any team during this generation.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers*- The Steelers will jump a spot if they win the Super Bowl against the Packers this year. Even without that win they have had an impressive 20 years. They won 2 Super Bowls, playing in three. They have the highest winning percentage of any NFL team in this time frame, and have been over .500 every year except 3. They have won 11 division titles in a tough division.
4. New England Patriots- When looking at the Patriots I was surprised at the success they had in the 90’s. While they did not win anything significant they were much better than I thought. The Patriots came on very strong in the early 2000’s winning three Super Bowls in four years. They boast a very respectable .577 winning percentage and have won 10 division titles. Their winning percentage was certainly helped by their 16-0 regular season. If the New York Giants, and Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, did not come back in the 4th quarter against one of the most dominating teams of all-time the Patriots would be a lock for the top three, instead they may be bumped to 5 if the Steelers win in this upcoming Super Bowl.
3. Chicago Bulls- The Bulls certainly had the best stretch of any team on this list. Jordan and Pippen in the 1990’s were absolutely dominant. If Jordan did not take that little sabbatical they may have won 8 ina row. After Jordan left, the Bulls really struggled, being one of the worst teams in the sport for a time.The Bulls have had a little resurgence as of late, but their swoon in the early 2000’s dropped them to number 3.
2. Los Angeles Lakers- While the Bulls have one more championship in this time frame then the Lakers,the Lakers have been consistently better. They did have a small slump after Shaq left to mooch off of Dwayne Wade’s championship, however they have more than made up for it since. The Lakers started off this generation playing in the finals and are the reigning champs. They have played in the finals 8 times, have a .634 winning percentage, and have been over .500 eighteen times. Phil Jackson may have had plenty of bullets between the Bulls and the Lakers but no one can deny that he does some very good things with what he is given.
1. New York Yankees- Now you might be thinking that I just said I wasn’t going to be as big a homer as the distinguished author of this blog; the Bulls have more championships and the Lakers have played in the championship more and have a higher winning percentage. Hear me out. The Bulls have won more championship yes, however they are followed closely by the Lakers (5) and the Spurs (4); the Yankees have won more than twice as many World Series as any other team this generation. Eight different teams have won NBA championships since 1990, 13 different MLB teams have won since then. If the Yankees did not win five of them that number would be higher. It is harder to be consistently good in baseball than the NBA. Inside of baseball, the Yankees had a run very similar to the Atlanta Braves winning 12 division titles, however they followed that up with great playoff success. If you want to compare them to the NFL teams on the list they have won more championships than any team and have been over .500 more than any of those teams. The Yankees dominated a sport that is not used to being dominated, and that is why they are the best franchise of this generation.
Who did I leave out? Who needs to be reshuffled?Category: Basketball
Tags: Atlanta Braves, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Red Wings, howigit, howigit's blog, Patriots, The Best Sports Franchises 1990-2010, The Best Sports Franchises Ever, The Best Sports Franchises of All-Time, The Best Sports Teams 1990-2010, The Best Sports Teams All-Time, The Best Sports Teams Ever, yankees
By Jimmy Cunningham, howiGit Contributing Writer, New York, NY
Last year, the New York Giants started off as hot as any team, only to fade. Yet after insurmountable injuries in the secondary and a tough, back-loaded schedule, the Giants organization, players and fans have been left with a bad taste in their collective mouths. The goal this year? To prove that last year’s New York Giants are not the real New York Giants. The expectations of this season rest solely on a few factors: Kenny Phillips and Keith Bulluck’s health, Osi Umenyiora and Brandon Jacobs having bounce back years, and new coordinator Perry Fewell’s Tampa-2 scheme reigniting the formerly feared Giants defense. With these factors in mind, let’s take a look at the upcoming New York Giants season – position by position.
Quarterbacks- Despite Eli Manning’s general lack of respect in the media (including the founder of this blog who some may say is still sore from losing a Super Bowl to someone with an “ever-present whining-panicked-crying look”), Manning has a Super Bowl ring and MVP under his belt – more than any other quarterback in the NFC East can claim. The bottom line remains that Manning remains a top ten QB in the league. While he still has things to improve on – including holding onto the ball – the Giant’s group of very talented, young wide receivers should continue to help Manning improve. If Manning can put up at least 25 touchdowns while holding his turnovers under 20, the Giants should consider it a successful season from their star quarterback.
Running backs- The Giants have a very good tandem at running back, with both players complimenting each other well. As the pound-for-pound largest and most physically intimidating running back in the NFL, Brandon Jacobs has been considered the number one for the last few years, but that may change in the upcoming season. Giant fans last year grew frustrated with Jacobs’ lack of physicality when running, and his frustration equaled the frustration of the fans. Biting at Jacobs heals is the shifty Ahmad Bradshaw, who looks poised to take the starting job if Jacobs continues to struggle. How will Jacobs handle this pressure if Bradshaw overtakes him for the starting job? For sake of the Giants success, hopefully well. If the two of them are able to work together, the Giants will have a very dangerous offense.
Wide Receivers- While the Giants lost former starter Dominik Hixon for the season, the receiving corp. looks poised to be mentioned among the best in the league. Coming off of a career year, in which he set the the Giants record for receptions in a season and made the pro bowl, Steve Smith is one of the best possession receivers in the league. Second year player, Hakeem Nicks, coming off a remarkable rookie campaign, has been receiving rave reviews from the media at training camp and also has been seen as a fantasy sleeper by many publications this season. If Nicks can follow through with expectations and have a breakout season, while Smith continues to be the reliable possession receiver the Giants have come to expect, there is no better and younger one two punch in the NFL. Add the speedy Mario Manningham in the slot and the 6’6” Ramses Barden in the red zone, and the Giants have plenty of weapons at Manning’s disposal. Undrafted rookie Victor Cruz also has shown promise after putting on a show in the first preseason game against the Jets.
Tight Ends- While Kevin Boss in no way should be mistaken as a superstar tight end, he has grown into a reliable target for Eli Manning, as well as an excellent blocker in the running game. Second year player Travis Beckum has shown promise as well and will likely continue to improve.
Offensive Line- Back in 2008, when the Giants won the Super Bowl, critics lauded them as having the best line in the NFL. With most of that line still intact, the Giants will look to regain their form along the offensive line. The only major change will come with the insertion of Will Beatty at either the guard or tackle position. He is most likely to replace right tackle Kareem McKenzie, who despite performing at a high level over the last few years, is getting up there in age. Beatty, a second round pick last year, is a big young talent that will hopefully give the Giants more flexibility on the offensive front.
Defensive line- The Giants are loaded at the defensive end position, especially in terms of athleticism. Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, and rookie Jason Pierre-Paul are all quick, athletic players that can get to the quarterback. The trouble for the Giants will not be getting to the quarterback, but rather finding a place for all of these players to contribute while remaining happy with their role on the team. The benefit to this is that on passing downs they can put them all on the field at the same time and attack the quarterback. This skill upfront allows for Fewell to call fewer blitzes which will allow for better coverage in the middle of the field, which was a major problem last season. The free agent signing of defensive tackle Chris Canty was supposed to bolster the defensive front, yet injuries kept him on the sideline most of the year. Expect a healthy Canty to produce for the Giants this year. Jay Alford, Rocky Bernard, and Barry Coefield will platoon for the Giants to fill out the defensive front. Rookie defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who has been receiving excellent reviews from the Giants insiders, also figures to play a role in the defensive tackle rotation. One thing is for sure; the depth of the Giants defensive front is something that every offense around the league will need to account for week to week.
Line Backers- With the loss of defensive captain Antonio “AP” Pierce, many expect a fall off at the linebacker position. And while AP’s skills had diminished over the last few seasons, no one can dispute that he was the leader of the defense, and had every player in the right position on every play. The Giants will be looking to free agent signee Keith Bulluck to fill AP’s shoes. Bulluck had filled the same role as AP for the Tennessee Titans over the last 11 season, breaking 100 tackles six times from the outside position and making 2 All-pro teams and a Pro Bowl. After having reconstructive knee surgery in December, Bulluck was available late in the free agency period, and the Giants scooped him up. A health Bullock could make all the difference for the Giants defense. With the Giants switching to Fewell’s Tampa-2, the middle linebacker position becomes more important than ever before. Outside linebacker Micheal Boley began last season on the injured list, yet showed promise during the end of the season. Boley, like Canty, is another player who needs to stay healthy in order to earn his contract. Clint Sintim, another second year player, will most likely fill in the other starting outside linebacker role. Gerris Wilkinson could also see a good amount of time during passing situations.
Secondary- After a porous performance last season, the Giants secondary must improve in the upcoming season, especially with the strong passing attacks in their division. Last season the secondary was decimated with injuries, most notably to safety Kenny Phillips, who missed 14 games with a knee injury. With a full recovery, Phillips will be paired with former Arizona Cardinal, Antrelle Rolle. Rolle, a former first round pick out of Miami, has experience in the Tampa-2 scheme that Fewell enforces. His play making ability could be lethal alongside Phillips, another former Miami player. Matched with the safety tandem, the Giants have three young fast corners that have all shown promise at points, but need to show more consistency. Corey Webster seems to go from superstar in the making to practice squad player every season. Terrell Thomas looks to be on the verge of a breakout season. Aaron Ross is looking to recover from a hamstring injury, a nagging injury he has seemed to have since he has entered the league. If the secondary can stay healthy, the Giants could sneak up on some people.
Special teams- The loss of punter Jeff Feagles, the most consistent Giant since he joined the team, will most likely be the most detrimental to the team. While Feagles would not wow anyone with his length on his kicks, he could put a team inside the 5 unlike any punter ever in the league. Lawrence Tynes returns as kicker, which leaves a lot of uncertainty at this position. The return game seems to be an open competition with Hixon out for the season.
Season overview- Over the last few seasons the NFC East has been called the toughest division in the NFL. With the Eagles being the most consistent team in the division, and the Cowboys receiving the most notoriety, the Giants have gone largely overlooked. Yet the Eagles have traded All-Pro Donovan McNabb this offseason, a move that will likely hurt them this upcoming season. Taking the reins of the talented Eagles offense will be Kevin Kolb, but is he ready? McNabb may have worn out his welcome in Philly, which is not difficult in a city notorious for being short-minded, but sometimes the evil you know is better than the evil you don’t. The Cowboys are being picked to win the division by most pundits, yet they have been picked to win since Clinton was President, with no rings to show for it. The Giants beat the Cowboys twice last year, including in the stadium opener of Jerry “Nip/Tuck” Jones’s wet dream. The Redskins have improved with the addition of McNabb but the Redskins are a team that one will have to see to believe. Every year the Redskins make a big splash and then disappoint. The NFC East seems to have teams that all have each other’s number – the Giants have the Cowboys number, the Eagles have the Giants number, and the Cowboys have the Eagles number. That may all change, but I think the division is pretty wide open. The Giants play two pretty tough divisions in the NFC North and the AFC south. Looking at the Giants schedule I want to say they’ll go 10-6 and make the playoffs. However, there are a lot of questions still to be answered – hopefully the Giants will respond.
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