The National Football League’s Feb. 5 championship game at Indianapolis’s Lucas Oil Stadium is a rematch of the Super Bowl from four years ago, when the Giants upset the undefeated Patriots as 12-point underdogs.
The Giants also weren’t favored by oddsmakers in their past two wins this postseason, including yesterday’s 20-17 overtime victory in San Francisco. Giants quarterback Eli Manning said it doesn’t matter when the odds are against his team.
“Guys never quit, never have any doubts, just keep believing, keep fighting until the very end, no matter what the circumstances are,” Manning said last night at a news conference. “We find ways to win.”
The oddsmakers’ favorite has won the Super Bowl 73 percent of the time, with victories in 33 of 45 Super Bowls, according to RJ Bell, founder of Las Vegas-based handicapping information website Pregame.com. This year’s three-point spread indicates the Patriots have a 59 percent chance to win, said Bell, who estimates that more than $10 billion will be wagered on the Super Bowl worldwide.
New England, which won Super Bowl titles after the 2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons, is 15-3 this season after yesterday’s 23-20 win against the Baltimore Ravens in the American Football Conference championship game.
The Giants, who also have three Super Bowl victories, have a 12-7 record this season.
The Patriots haven’t lost since Nov. 6, when they were beaten at home by the Giants 24-20 as Manning threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jake Ballard with 15 seconds remaining. The teams combined for 31 points in the fourth quarter and three touchdowns were scored in the final 3:03.
The Giants went on a four-game losing skid after that victory, and have since recovered by winning six of their past seven games, including five in a row. The Giants were 2 1/2- point underdogs yesterday in San Francisco.
“We played them once this year and had one right down to the wire,” Manning said. “They’ve been playing great football of late, also. We’re going to celebrate this one, have fun and then start preparing. Hopefully, we can continue to play our best football.”
The Giants were underdogs in two of their three Super Bowl wins, having also won against the Buffalo Bills after the 1990 season as six-point underdogs. They were three-point underdogs against the Baltimore Ravens following the 2000 season and were routed in that Super Bowl 34-7.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said his team heads to Indianapolis with momentum and confidence.
“We’ve had five straight single-elimination games,” Coughlin said. “Somehow we find ways to win.”
Next they’ll face the Patriots and Tom Brady, whose 16 postseason wins tie Joe Montana for the most by a quarterback in NFL history. This will be his fifth Super Bowl appearance, matching John Elway for the most among quarterbacks.
The Patriots entered the regular season as 9-2 favorites to win the NFL championship, while the Giants were tied for 11th among 32 teams with 25-1 odds.
“We won 10 straight games and they haven’t all been pretty,” Brady said. “There’s really some resiliency, we’ve shown that all season. We’re always going to fight to the end. I’m sure this next game is going to come down to the end, and hopefully we have enough plays.”
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