It’s not surprising that there is a large difference in the personnel the New England Patriots and the New York Giants will put on the field when compared to the teams that took the field during their previous Super Bowl matchup. After all, that was four years ago. But when we look at the two teams as they bear down on Indianapolis, we can see major differences in how these two teams are operating, in comparison to the 2007-08 Super Bowl anyway.
The Giants‘ rise to playoff dominance was rather similar to the team that won back in the ’07-’08 season. Their pattern is also similar. In both seasons, the Giants had turning point games —both losses—to the top teams in the league (Week 17 against New England in ’07, Week 13 against Green Bay in ’11). After proving they could hang with these teams in “gusty” performances, the Giants caught fire. Rather, they got hot when they needed to and carried it straight through to the Super Bowl.
I’m a huge believer in the old saying of “it’s not who you play, but when you play them.” In fact, many teams owe their championship runs to simply winning when it was important —look no further than last years St. Louis Cardinals team and their improbable World Series run. That’s the single, most important factor that makes me confident in the Giants chances.
The Patriots are in a much different boat than they were during their undefeated campaign back in 2007-08. While they’ve once again been a force all season, they’ve been questioned all season. Is there defense coherent enough to make a run? Are they overrated? Their defense was (is?) seen as their Achilles heel. In 2007, the undefeated Patriots were seen as enormous favorites in just about every game they played. That fact was a lighter in the gas tank for the Giants‘ engines. The target on the Patriots back was almost bigger than the Patriots themselves.
While I don’t think any player needs ammunition to get pumped up for the Super Bowl, none of that “extra” motivation is there. The Patriots aren’t undefeated. The Patriots were questioned all season (just like the Giants), and the Patriots aren’t overwhelming favorites. Lastly, Tom Brady is just too good to pick against him twice. The Patriots defense —dreadful most of the season— has played downright stellar in the playoffs.
It seems whenever there is talk about the Patriots being “upset,” they take it a little personal. There were light rumblings that an upset was brewing when Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos came to town. Well, the Patriots steamrolled them. The Giants are a great team, but a lot of people are assuming the Giants are on their way to another Super Bowl win.
The times the Patriots have been questioned this season, they’ve answered in a big way. I expect no less from Brady and company this time around. To top it off, I’m sure the previous Super Bowl loss won’t be too far from their minds.
Brian is a lifelong football fan, specifically of the Chicago Bears, having lived in Illinois his entire life and having followed the NFL throughout.
Article Source: Brian Davis @sports.yahoo.com