The New York Giants are a mere 6-7 coming off a 31-24 victory in Miami. It's a mediocre record by definition. But the Giants are still contending for a playoff spot, with the undefeated Carolina Panthers next on the schedule. Thing is, of all the mediocre teams that have a shot at knocking off Cam Newton and company, the Giants are legit. Against the Dolphins on Monday night, Eli Manning completed passes to eight different receivers. The Panthers are #1 in the NFL in yards-per-pass allowed (6.0) and they hold opposing quarterbacks to lower passer ratings than any other defense. Still, the Giants won't be intimidated. Coach Tom Coughlin says around the Giants locker room there's just "excitement about being involved in a game against a team of this ability -- and the natural competitive instincts that I would hope everyone at this level has."
That's Coughlin -- with the suggestive "I would hope" -- pumping up his team in the simplest way. Come to think of it -- and the Giants do -- the Giants were just 9-7 in the regular season when they won their last Super Bowl. The Panthers run the ball on half their possessions, making them unique in today's NFL. That means the Giants will have the opportunity to get physical on the ground, something the team has historically been adept at -- especially in big games. Tom Coughlin is 69 years old. He's been the Giants head coach since 2004, winning two Super Bowls (2007, 2011) -- both victories over the highly favored New England Patriots. Coughlin wouldn't like the idea of Giants fans "appreciating" him unless he's holding the Lombardi trophy. But if Coughlin pulls off this win against the Panthers -- he will have a plan -- and the Giants move to 7-7 and toward the playoffs, it'll surely be Tom Coughlin appreciation time for New York Football Giants fans.
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