The eventual Hall of Famer is thinking about retirement. The left tackle is learning on the job. The feature back has never been a feature back. And the front office did little in the off-season to improve the roster.

Obviously, you can draw only one conclusion from the mess that is the Giants: They are going to the Super Bowl.

Sound crazy? Of course it sounds crazy. Giants-crazy. But that's my pick and I'm sticking with it. ... Until something crazy happens.

This team has been nuts for several years now, terribly dysfunctional, and they got a little loonier when Michael Strahan started thinking about afternoons on the back porch with his feet up and a wine spritzer tickling his tongue.

It would be just like the Giants to have a big year, wouldn't it? They have been a worse front-runner than speed horses in the Belmont Stakes. Remember the 2001 season? Had their butts handed to them by Baltimore in the Super Bowl months earlier, so the natural order of things meant a return trip, and this time a win, in the 2001 season.

Or a 7-9 record.

How about 2003? Just off that horrid playoff loss in San Francisco — blew a 38-14 third-quarter lead, Jeremy Shockey dropped a TD pass that would have iced it, then accidentally nailed a young fan with a cup of ice — the Giants expected big things and so did everybody else.

Then they went 4-12 and quit on coach Jim Fassel before the organization took away his parking pass.

Works the other way too. Who had them going 11-5 and winning the division in 2005, Eli Manning's first full season as a starter? OK, so the Giants forgot about that fine detail of showing up for the playoff game against Carolina, but let's not get picky.

Giants fans can't lose with this trend. When expectations are high, they are naturally pumped. When expectations are morbidly low, they employ the trend. By the opener on Sept. 9 at Dallas, we are going to have heard this one exercised more often than Tom Coughlin sarcasm.

So I'm going with the Giants this year. Forget those one-hit wonders like the Bears and the Saints. The heck with Seattle, regular-season champ and playoff chump. Big Blue's going all the way.

Manning will have a Pro Bowl season. Brandon Jacobs, the new feature back, will use 20 carries a game to run for 1,000 yards. The other back, Reuben Droughns, will have a big year complementing Jacobs. New left tackle David Diehl will block the guy in front of him and, unlike predecessor Luke Petitgout, actually wait until "hike'' before moving.

Let's see, what else: Shockey — Pro Bowl. Plaxico Burress — Pro Bowl.

And neither one of them will get mouthy with Manning when he throws to the wrong receiver.

The defense: Strahan will come out of retirement as soon as a cold front sweeps Albany. He'll set the franchise sacks record against Dallas and add another dozen or so by season's end. Mathias Kiwanuka will look like he's played linebacker since Pop Warner. The secondary, led by rookie corner Aaron Ross, will make plays on the ball instead of playing two exits off of it.

This is the Giants' season. Obviously. Things couldn't be worse.

Kevin Gleason's column appears regularly. Contact him at 346-3193 or via e-mail at