WHAT PRICE Eli Manning and the New York Giants to repeat as Super Bowl champions?
Well, the odds against them retaining their title have shortened considerably since the start of the season.
The British bookmakers clearly regarded the Giants’ win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII as a fluke, quoting them as 25-1 outsiders.
But, after winning their first four games, they’re now second favorites (at a best-priced 9-1) behind the Dallas Cowboys (13-2).
It says something for the strength of the NFC East that the Washington Redskins (12-1) are third favorites.
It also gives you an idea of the challenges that lie ahead for Tom Coughlin’s team, who face divisional rivals five times in their remaining 12 games.
With their next two opponents being the struggling Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers, Big Blue has a good chance of making it six out of six.
However, it gets tougher after that as a visit to Pittsburgh is followed by a home showdown with the Cowboys on November 2.
This time last year, there were serious doubts being raised about whether Manning Jr. would make the grade as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Now he’s being talked about in the same breath as his brother, Peyton, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and the other elite players in his position.
Eli Manning now an elite quarterback
Manning came of age in the Super Bowl. Now he’s exuding confidence and living up to his pedigree.
Success doesn’t seem to have changed him. He’s still an unassuming kind of guy…and the Giants are an unassuming kind of team.
Amazingly, the retirement of running back Tiki Barber, and the broken leg suffered by tight end Jeremy Shockey in 2007, actually made the Giants stronger. They lost their two superstars, but gained unity and a sense of purpose.
Now, this year, they have managed to overcome the retirement of Michael Strahan and the loss through injury of Osi Umenyiora. So far, at least.
They have three battering rams in Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw. And they can beat you in the air too, with or without Plaxico Burress. Domenik Hixon and Sinorice Moss proved that against Seattle last Sunday.
The Giants’ strength is their depth. Whenever one man goes down, they seem to have another to replace him. Every week, someone new emerges.
Some would say they don’t have the explosive power of the Dallas offense. I’m not sure Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren would concur.
It’s more than a year now since the Giants lost a road game (45-35 against Dallas in Texas Stadium). They go for their 13th consecutive road win in Cleveland on Monday night.
They look a sound bet to achieve it and if you took a punt of them before the start of the season, hold on to your ticket. You’ve certainly got a value bet.