DAN: Giants Among Men
By Dan O'Donnell
Before we start looking ahead to the NFC Championship--wait, too late, Today's TMJ-4 just started the first of 168 consecutive hours of Packers Blitz. But before you send the kids to the grandparents, attach the kegerator to the couch, and strap yourself in for a full week of hype (and possible liver disease), think back to early September.
Would you have thought then that the NFC Title Game would be played in Green Bay? Would you have thought Eli Manning would go farther in the playoffs than Peyton? And would you have thought Randy Moss would go the entire season without referring to himself in the third person?
Think back to early September, when Sports Illustrated picked both the Packers and the Giants to finish 6-10 while ESPN had the Giants fourth in the NFC East and the Packers third in the North. Think back to the unbridled optimism you felt when the Pack beat Philadelphia. And then those Giants. And the Chargers. Could they really get back in the playoffs? you thought. Is it really possible that they finish with 9 or, knock on wood, maybe even 10 wins?
Still, the national wags persisted, telling us Favre couldn't possibly recapture that early season magic for a full 16 games. The Giants couldn't possibly run the football without Tiki Barber. To read them was like listening to a Jim Mora press conference: "Playoffs? Playoffs? Are you kidding me? Playoffs?"
"Come on," they'd insist after both reached the postseason. "The Packers won a down division and the Giants barely snuck in. They can't be that good, can they? These teams aren't really going to go anywhere, are they?"
That's the thing about impossible dreams, as Al Michaels will tell you, sometimes they come true.
And so the Packers and Giants, the teams that went from also-rans to cute stories to bona fide contenders in just 4 short months, will meet for the right to play on football's biggest stage and, if you believe the national pundits, get blown out by New England. But why would we believe them now? If we did back in September, we'd never allow ourselves to dream.