Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Daily Super Bowl Hype Meme: The Giants as Road Warriors

"I think as a team we seem to perform better on the road," Strahan said. "That's a great thing, because when it's the playoffs, if we're going to go as far as we want, we have to win every game on the road." --Michael Strahan

If this is the first time you're seeing that quote....worry not. It won't be the last. As has been discussed ad nauseum by everyone ranging from Rich Eisen to Mike Francesa to Maurice Carthon, the Giants currently stand at 3-5 at home and 10-1 on the road, and have won 10 straight after losing their opener to Dallas. This, to say the least, is fairly unexpected. One would presume that a 10-6 team would be the exact opposite: dominant at home, and trying to hold serve away from the Swamp.

In support of this strange stat, a slew of theories have been propounded as to why the Giants are a veritable juggernaut on the road and an inherent mediocrity on the road. Let's take a look at some of these, and see if they pass the smell test, and if so, how applicable they are to the Super Bowl, given that the Giants are technically the "road" team, and that they certainly won't be playing in New York.

1. There's no media pressure on the road. Well, getting on the road does escape you from reading the Daily News and listening to idiots like Max Kellerman spew epithets about interceptions and manliness. So does turning off the TV, radio, and paying attention in practice. I also find it hard to believe that the entire team of 53 gets distracted by the home media coverage while at home. And these aren't last year's Bears, where the Sex Cannon single-handedly cost them half their games; their losses have been a combination of Manning sucking, the defense sucking, and poor play in general. Can't attribute that to the NY media. This seems stupid.

2. There are no personal life distractions on the road. This preposterous theory was propounded repeatedly on ESPN, most notably by Mark Schlereth, with the notion that when you're on the road, you don't have to worry about things like getting tickets for your friends and family, paying your bills. Let's ignore the fact that teams generally don't travel for road games until 48 hours before game time. Who the hell would rather spend their nights in an airport hotel than their own bed? And has anyone ever heard of groupies? Are you telling me that football players are simply staying in the hotel rooms at night, ordering Cobb Salads, and watching Law & Order reruns? Didn't think so. This theory is utter balderdash.

3. Eli is not a cold weather quarterback. I think last week's game disproved this theory and then some. Also, it was cold precisely once in the Meadowlands this year--when they played the Pats in the finale. And even then it was warmer than the Bills game in Buffalo, which they won. Still not the answer.

4. The road schedule was easier. Hey, now here's a real idea. In the division, then swept the Iggles, were swept by the Cowboys, and had a "reverse split" with the Redskins. Nothing remotely odd about that series of events. Let's compare the non-division schedules for the Giants:

Home--Green Bay (L); NY Jets (W); San Francisco (W); Minnesota (L); New England (L)
Road--Atlanta (W); Miami (W); Detroit (W); Chicago (W); Buffalo (W)

There isn't a single road game against a team with a winning record, and a good team should win pretty much all of those games. By contrast, they drew two of the 4 best teams in football at home, and the Minnesota loss was their only defeat to a team that didn't make the playoffs. In fact, let's break their schedule down another way:

vs. sub-.500 teams: 7-0
vs. .500 teams: 2-1
vs. over-.500 teams: 1-5

This basically indicates what all Giants finds pretty much knew: they're good enough to beat every team they should, and have a puncher's chance against the elite of the league. Take on top of that the fact that they drew a crappy Tampa team in the first round, have peaked at the right time, and were playing teams that they already knew from 3 games earlier this year, and suddenly it doesn't look that odd. Which goes to the final explanation:

5. The Giants are one of the 4 best teams in football. Stupid? Let's look at the teams with the best road records during the regular season.

Patriots: 8-0
Colts: 7-1
Cowboys: 7-1
Giants: 7-1

Conclusion? Let's call this road record 50% scheduling, 25% a product of a team peaking at the right time, and 25% the fact that the team is actually pretty good. In other words, on the meme meter, give it a 6. Next idea, please.

1 comment:

Teddy said...

This meme at least has the virtue of being game-related. I mean, it's wrong, but it's a wrong opinion about the game that's going to be played, instead of an in-depth analysis of Jerome Bettis's childhood or something.