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Giants Get Another Chance to Rise to the Occasion

Giants find an underdog where no one was looking

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The Giants do not want you to believe in them just yet.

    You have to admire Tom Coughlin's salesmanship. 

    The Giants are the defending Super Bowl champions, leading their division with three games to play in the season and beloved by media members far and wide, yet Coughlin still gets his players to believe there's a general consensus that they're garbage. Listening to Victor Cruz on the NFL Network Friday makes you wonder if Coughlin missed his calling as a cult leader. 

    "Every year at this time, people count us out, nobody picks us and then we go on this tremendous run to win the Super Bowl," Cruz said. "We're right where we want to be. Nobody's talking about us, and we want to continue to keep this trend going of the last year."

    It's very hard to think of a place you could go where someone has counted out the Giants at this point in the season. It's the king of all strawmen arguments, but why argue with what seems to work for them?

    This is a pretty good weekend to invent the latest round of The World vs. New York Giants Football. The Falcons have the inside track on homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs, which would seem like the perfect opportunity for the Giants to pull off an upset that starts them rolling to greater heights. 

    Forget about the fact that it isn't actually an upset for the Giants to beat a team they beat 24-2 in the playoffs last year because reality doesn't matter. This is one of those moments where the story becomes the Giants overcoming the doubters, so you might as well just go with it. 

    Injuries make that storyline juicier. The Giants won't have running back Ahmad Bradshaw on Sunday as the sprained knee he suffered against the Saints joined his neck and foot problems to finally knock him out of the lineup. 

    David Wilson will be in line for the lion's share of the work out of the backfield, which works well given his breakout performance against New Orleans last week. It's a much bigger role than Wilson is accustomed to playing, however, and the Giants have had doubts this season about whether he was ready for the pass protection he'll need to provide for Eli Manning. 

    Cornerback Prince Amukamara has also been ruled out, a big loss given the quietly strong play he's provided opposite the increasingly toasty Corey Webster. With Kenny Phillips still out, the Giants won't have much depth or versatility in the secondary against a good Falcons passing offense. 

    That puts a lot of pressure on the pass rush to find itself after a mostly ineffectual season from the guys up front. But things didn't look too different in the playoffs and the Giants couldn't have had an easier time with it. 

    Don't let that get in the way of the underdog storyline, though. Some things just sell too well to ever go out of circulation. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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