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Unpopular Opinions

Unpopular Opinions: New York Giants can't bench Eli Manning

Listen, I don't try to live my life as a contrarian. That's not true -- I kind of do. I spend a lot of time in public houses and taverns, and I have a two-hour commute that allows me to hear a lot of the sports world's most popular opinions. Sometimes, I think it's best to take a look at the other side.

In this space, I'll be articulating a handful of positions that are the opposite of what most people think -- unpopular opinions, if you will -- and explain why, well, my unpopular opinions are right and everyone else is wrong. Below are my unpopular opinions for Week 10.

UNPOPULAR OPINION: Ben McAdoo can't send Eli Manning to the bench.

I'm really trying to figure out what Ben McAdoo is all about. This week, in the wake of a 34-point home loss that dropped the New York Giants to 1-7, the embattled* head coach intimated he could bench starting quarterback Eli Manning.

(And you know you're on thin ice when folks start slapping words like "embattled" in front of your title. It's like when my wife started referring to me as her "current husband." Unsettling.)*

Now, the caring, optimistic side of me (that I try to drown out with burritos) wants to believe McAdoo is this evil genius. Like that dude in the procedural TV show who realizes his team needs a common enemy to rally around, and in this case, it's him. You take a shot at the locker room leader and perhaps that will inspire the team to rise to the challenge and defend Eli's reputation. (This approach worked like a charm for Dr. Kelso in "Scrubs." He'd enforce unfair rules to his staff, knowing deep down it's what kept Sacred Heart running.)

I would love to believe that's the case. Just like I would love to believe that I'm eventually going to get to the 30-plus episodes of "Ray Donovan" on my DVR right now. Yes, I would love to believe that. But the reality is, I have a child and will instead watch "Blue" (it's "Toy Story," but she calls it "Blue" because of the DVD case -- and yes, we still have DVDs) over and over again.

But still, I would love to believe this is all part of some great big plan. The reality is: McAdoo is kind of misreading the situation here.

I mean, I get that you want to play some young players and start looking toward the future. And if there is one thing an embattled (love that word!) coach can always hang his hat on, it's developing a young quarterback. It's like being the kid who brings an Xbox One X with him when he moves into the dorm. You're going to be a very popular fellow.

The problem is, the Giants don't really have a quarterback of the future. I've seen Geno Smith. And he's probably going to have a nice career as a backup. That's not a knock on Geno. Backup quarterback is my dream job. Think about it: You get paid an NFL quarterback's salary (well, somewhat), but you wear a red jersey in practice and never get hit. Paid for doing nothing? That's like my current gig.

And I'm pretty sure it's not going to be rookie Davis Webb, either. Dude had a passer rating of 69.5 in the preseason. A third-round pick seven months ago, Webb's a long-term project you can actually ruin if you throw him out on the field too early. You need some savvy with this. I mean, I won't even let my daughter see the "Star Wars" films yet because it's going to be too overwhelming. We'll start with some Star Wars Lego TV shows and work our way up. But I'm not gonna curl up with her and watch "Rogue One" and expect her to get it.

Trust me: If the Giants had a quarterback like Mitch Trubisky waiting in the wings, I'd be all for tossing him into the starting lineup. Hell, I would have traded Eli at the deadline to facilitate the move. But that's not what happened, G-Men. You kept him. And you need to show him the respect that he deserves. Eli has done so much for this franchise. I don't know if you realize this, Ben, but he's beaten Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. Twice. He's the only thing keeping Tom from being a perfect 7-0 on Super Bowl Sunday. Which I always find funny. Seriously. I always imagine Peyton giving Eli grief for not having his records. And Eli shooting back, "Dude, you beat Rex Grossman. And only played in that second Super Bowl because Brock Osweiler struggled in the season finale. So back off." And then Peyton sadly eats more Papa John's. Sorry, where was I?

McAdoo should show some respect here. Eli has a pretty impressive streak going -- he's the NFL's active leader with 207 consecutive regular-season starts -- and you don't want to just throw it away. You've got to be careful with it. I don't want to go to this analogy again, but the WWE bigwigs didn't break the Undertaker's WrestleMania streak until they had the perfect person to do it -- and they wanted that person to build on the streak and become an unstoppable force. (Although, I would have let CM Punk have it, but whatevs.) The Giants don't have a Brock Lesnar on the roster. You need to let Eli have this, Ben. The franchise owes it to him.

UNPOPULAR OPINION: The Baltimore Ravens aren't dead yet.

Please, I need to ask you all to not spoil the latest "Stick a fork in 'em" episode from my boys (and Colleen Wolfe) on the Around the NFL podcast. I didn't have the chance to listen to them before starting work on this piece, so please forgive me. I do sit within talking distance of the heroes, though -- something which can't be a pleasant experience for any of them. Because I'm a pretty big "well, actually" kind of person when it comes to something that I'm really passionate about. All right, mostly Star Wars and Mike Trout. So I didn't butt in when I heard them mention the Ravens as a possibility to get forked this week. I soooo wanted to. But I also knew that I had this forum here. And good news for them: There is like a zero percent chance they read this.

Anyhow, enough dilly-dally. Get to the point, Adam! I'm kind of feeling the Ravens. For real.

Baltimore's currently 4-5 and out of the playoff picture. The good news is, Steelers fans can't be all, "AND you lost to the Bears" because they did, too.

John Harbaugh's squad finally limped to the bye week. But there are some reasons for optimism going forward.

For starters, the Ravens should get some key players back for Week 11, when they return to the field for a game against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers. One of those probable returnees? Danny Woodhead. And I'll admit, as a fantasy football enthusiast, Woodhead has reached a mythical status, like Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster and Clayton Kershaw being great in the postseason.

The defense continues to improve. The unit currently ranks seventh in points allowed and total defense. The Ravens do a fine job against the pass, ranking third, and hold opponents to just a 33.6 conversion percentage on third down (sixth in the league).

So, if you could get something -- anything -- out of the offense to go along with the always-solid Ravens D, you would be on to something here. Again, Woodhead's return should help there, and Terrance West is also on his way back. But really, it's Flacco and the aerial attack that needs to get going. And while the Ravens' franchise quarterback did just post a season-high of 261 yards passing, it took him 52 attempts to get there. And he also threw two picks. On the plus side, Jeremy Maclin showed major signs of life in that game, with eight catches for 98 yards. Remember, we just need something out of the offense.

And if you look at the upcoming schedule, the Ravens travel to Green Bay, then return home for games against the Texans and Lions. That feels like 6-6 (7-5??) going into Week 14, when they head to Pittsburgh on my birthday.

So, let's not just think the Ravens are going to go away. Because they are not.

POPULAR OPINION (THAT'S SPOT ON): Mike McCarthy has messed up with Brett Hundley.

He's been in your system for years. You know what he can do. Take the training wheels off. And I say that as a Bears fan who has seen his coaching staff treat Trubisky like he's a toddler driving a car at Disneyland's Autopia. (Which, by the way, is the dumbest ride in the history of rides. I have to wait in line to sit in traffic on a ride? I do that for free every day!)

Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @AdamRank.

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