Blog Entry

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

Posted on: January 24, 2012 9:00 am
Edited on: January 24, 2012 11:51 am
 
The uniforms are the same but these two teams most definitely are not. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

The more things change, the more things … change. The uniforms may be the same but four years later, the Giants and Patriots are different teams who, after 20 weeks, find themselves in a familiar position: about to face off in a Super Bowl. Four years ago, in the fortnight leading up to their first encounter in February 2008, the storylines were some variation of: "New England will absolutely obliterate New York."

Predictable, sure. But in much the same way gravity is predictable. Except that night the Giants had no use for immutable laws of nature. (Evidenced nicely by David Tyree's physics-defying grab that set up the winning touchdown.)


The Patriots' offensive firepower led by Brady and Randy Moss didn't matter. And neither did did the Spygate soap opera which served to galvanize the team earlier in the year and perpetuate the "us vs. them" mentality that gave guys like Rodney Harrison Tony Robbins-like purpose. (Harrison was known almost as much for his reliance on the "no respect for motivational purposes" shtick as he was for his tenacious, sometimes dirty style.)

This time will be different. Or least that's the thinking going in. The head coaches and quarterbacks are the same, but Eli Manning has matured and the Patriots' defense has regressed. The difference in talent between these two clubs that was once measured in miles is now better gauged in yards.

Put differently: it only seems like we've already seen this movie.

So before we take a look ahead, we thought it made sense to first take a look back.

The Rosters

The Giants head to Indianapolis with 16 players (nine starters) from the Super Bowl XLII-winning squad. The Patriots, meanwhile, have just seven players (five starters) remaining. You can view the 2007 rosters for both teams below; the players in red are still with their respective teams.



The takeaway from the list above: only one defensive player from Super Bowl XLII remains on the Patriots' roster. Harrison, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Richard Seymour, Asante Samuel -- all either retired or playing elsewhere -- and just Vince Wilfork, the team's 2004 first-round pick, is left. (Granted, Wilfork saved the best game of his career for last Sunday's AFC Championship matchup against the Ravens, which is timely.)

During the '07 regular season, the Patriots defense ranked 12th in league (fifth against the pass, 21st against the run), according to Football Outsiders. Four years later, and their travails have been well documented (30th overall, 28th pass, 28th run).

The one name that has remained constant: Tom Brady. He doesn't have Randy Moss but he doesn't need him. The offensive may not be as explosive without Moss but it's much more dynamic with Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

On the surface, the 2011 Giants don't seem much different from the 2007 version. They won nine games this season (with 30 percent of the personnel from the Super Bowl XL roster), nine in '07; ranked 12th in team efficiency this time around versus 16th four years ago. But the similarities end there because like Brady in New England, Eli Manning has everything to do with the Giants' recent success.

For almost the entire '07 season, Manning was one of the league's most inconsistent quarterbacks. He ranked 38th in total value among NFL QBs, sandwiched between the likes of Brian Griese and Chet Lemon. Now Manning's fifth behind Brees, Rodgers, Brady, Romo and Stafford. That, more than anything else New York has done this season, is the reason they're playing one more game.

In Super Bowl XLII, the Giants had no expectations. In Super Bowl XLVI there will be plenty. And the question goes from "Can this team avoid embarrassing itself in front of a worldwide audience?" to "Can they play up to their potential and win this thing?"

Pregame Hype: A Look Back

Given these two offenses -- one record-breaking, the other aimless for much of the season -- it wasn't surprising that the Giants were getting Washington Generals-type odds to win this game.

Then:
the Patriots opened as 13.5-point favorites, according to Las Vegas. Five weeks before, in Week 17, New England was favored by 13 to beat the Giants in New York. Instead, the Pats needed a fourth-quarter comeback to eke out the 38-35 victory. (Now: the line opened Sunday with New England favored by a more modest 3.5 points.)

Then: AccuScore ran 10,000 simulations of the Giants-Patriots matchup and gave New York a 25 percent chance of winning. Sounds high -- Manning could throw that middle-of-the-field-Hail Mary to Tyree 100 times and Tyree comes down with it once. Tyree, it turns out, has impeccable timing.

Then: Cold Hard Football Facts called it the "mismatch of the century," complete with subheadings breaking down each individual mismatch ("on offense," "at quarterback," etc…).

Football Outsiders was less definitive, writing that "Most likely, the Giants won't pull a shocking upset like the 2001 Patriots, and they won't get blown off the field like the 1985 Patriots. Instead, they'll end up like a third team from New England's Super Bowl past: the 1996 Patriots, a good team outclassed by a great team. … (The 2007) Patriots will probably dispatch the Giants in a similar fashion, completing their historic 19-0 season. Not definitely. Just probably."

Then: CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco was one of the few national voices to pick the Giants. You don't even have to look it up because we've done it for you:


"I like the +11.5," Prisco said. "I think the Giants -- not only will they cover the number, they may win the game. … I think the Giants could definitely win the football game."

Then: Princess the camel (yep, you read that right -- the terrestrial counterpart to Paul the Octopus) also picked the Giants to win.

"I can't explain it, but her predictions, more often than not, are right on the money," said John Bergmann, general manager of Popcorn Park Zoo where Princess has lived since 2004. "I'm hoping she's right this time because I'm a Giants fan."

Turned out, Princess had a thing for the Mannings more so than the Giants; she picked Peyton and the Colts to win the year before. (Then again, maybe she'd seen then-Bears quarterback Rex Grossman play.)

From the ridiculous to the sublime…

Then: Another national columnist driving the Giants' bandwagon: Dr. Z. He admitted that picking New York was an opportunity to right a past wrong, when he picked the Colts to beat the Jets in Super Bowl III even though he had a feeling New York, 19-point underdogs by kickoff, had a chance to pull the upset. Forty years later, Dr. Z wasn't going to make the same mistake. Here's what he wrote on January 22, 2008:

"And gradually it dawned on me, as I toured the (Giants) locker room (after their NFC Championship game win over the Packers), picking up a quote here and there -- there isn't a way to stop Brady and Welker and Moss and Faulk and Maroney ... the whole riotous bunch. A team just has to be tougher, more resilient, more able to sustain high-level pressure on both sides of the ball for a longer period. And I honestly feel that the Giants can do it. Just look at what this improbable team has done so far."

And that's exactly how it played out.

Now: We mentioned above that the Patriots' defense has just one player from the last Super Bowl team. But much like the Giants' offense during the 2007 season, New England's D has come on of late. But will it be enough?

From CBSSports.com's Clark Judge: No team went to a Super Bowl with a defense ranked lower than 25th. Now you have the league's 27th-ranked unit (the Giants) and its 31st-ranked defense (New England), but, just a hunch, defense makes the difference in Indianapolis. It did when these two met in Super Bowl XLII, with the Giants sacking Tom Brady five times and holding the league's highest-scoring offense to 14 points.


The NY Giants and Patriots will face off in the Super Bowl once again. NFL on CBS analyst Solomon Wilcots joins the Tim Brando Show to discuss how the rematch will play out.

Now:
There used to be a time when you were never certain if Good Eli or Bad Eli would show up from one week to the next, one quarter to the next, and sometimes, one play to the next. Manning has transformed into one of the league's most consistent quarterbacks and now he has a chance to double up his older brother on total Super Bowl rings.

From Prisco's most recent column on Eli's evolution: "it all starts with Manning. He's no longer another star's little brother hoping to become special. He's arrived, which is what's so different from 2007. 'You're right there,' head coach Tom Coughlin said in the locker room late Sunday night (after the win over the 49ers). 'It is Eli. He is special now. He's the biggest difference between the two teams.'

Now: And that leads us to this, from colleague Will Brinson who wrote Sunday about two ancillary storylines could morph into something much larger should the Giants win: Is Eli 1) better than his brother and 2) now in the same class as Brady? 

The Game: What Happened

Obviously, you know exactly what happened. And depending on your perspective, you'll either take great joy in reliving the Super Bowl XLII memories or, as Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Monday, choosing instead to forget it ever happened.

"I’ve never been able to watch it," he said (via ESPN.com), echoing remarks made by quarterback Tom Brady earlier in the day. "I do remember the end of the game, a ball going through our cornerback’s hands [Asante Samuel] that if he had caught that ball and it hadn’t gone through his hands, we would have been able to take a knee and we would have won the game.

"And, you know, that Eli [Manning] doing a great job escaping from that pile of guys that we had on him, and whether the whistle blows and the great catch and all these things. In the end, there are a lot of little things. That was a great game, that was a great team, and we’re looking forward to having the privilege of going to Indianapolis."


Michael Strahan: excited about Super Bowl XLII's outcome.

As for what will happen … well, we'll find out shortly. And if you can't wait, we know a camel...

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Comments

Since: Jan 22, 2007
Posted on: January 24, 2012 7:42 pm
 

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

If the Giants were able to beat the Pats last Super Bowl obviously the Pats can beat the Giants. However, The Giants are looking and playing like the better team right now. I am Happy the Pats are the Favorite giving the Giants the Underdog Mentality however besides Overall record I see no reason why they would be favored at this point after what the Giants have just done the past 5 weeks.  Jets, Dallas, Atl, GB, SF MUCH more impressive than what Pats have done. and the Giants look to have the stronger team overall right now as well especially on defense. The only good team NE has played in a month they were lucky to win. Giants play like they have been they wont lose.



Since: Jan 19, 2009
Posted on: January 24, 2012 7:35 pm
 

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

Brady vs Eli 2. I hope its the same result.



Since: Apr 11, 2009
Posted on: January 24, 2012 7:33 pm
 

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

THe giants do not stand a chance with Gronk and Welker. There team is built upon shit



Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: January 24, 2012 7:29 pm
 

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

I wouldn't be using that argument as a positive Navy.  Basically means, you can take a lead, and throw up pts, but you still get beat.  Infact, that might be the sumbest point I have ever read.  You won't catch me criticizing any of the Giants wins.  A win is a win is a win.  Aside from BUF (who was on fire early in the season), the only teams we dropped to I consider to be very good (yes I think the Giants are very good).  I can't really say the same for you guys though.  Point is, I respect the Giants and won't sit here talking about how we are going to roll on you. That would just be stupid.  There solid points to be made for each team and each team has its advantages over the other matchup-wise.  As a Giants fan, I would expect you to be rooting for them.  But you must not be much of a football fan, because to dogmatically assure victory is just silly.  Hence the phrase "Any given Sunday". 



Since: Jan 2, 2010
Posted on: January 24, 2012 7:28 pm
 

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

I'll agree the 07 pat were the best team the NFL had ever seen. That day in the dessert the Gaints were the stronger team. Yes it took a miracle, but the fact the g men held that offense ( maybe the best all time )  under 20 headin into the 4th should not be overlooked.  That Pats team was amazing, the best I've seen , but New Yor was no doubt the hungrier team and they gutted out a historic win.


Fast foward to 2012, I personally would love to see Brady get another ring and be hailed as the best Qb ever. I have no issue with that, but I think New York on offense really match up well againtst the Pats D. Any other team in this game and I think The Pats cruise, but the gaints while not the best team Do pose a serious threat to win it all. This game is all about about match ups folks and no team from the NFC save for Green Bay matches up better with new england than the Giants. Pats fans should be very very nervous about Eli and the groove he is in with his WRs. 

Giants win 31-24 Vic cruz MVP


Go eagles!



Since: Mar 11, 2007
Posted on: January 24, 2012 7:26 pm
 

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

The Giants went 4-0 vs the AFC east.  Perhaps that's the most important comparison.



tomebrady08
Since: Sep 21, 2011
Posted on: January 24, 2012 7:09 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: Aug 27, 2008
Posted on: January 24, 2012 7:08 pm
 

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

During your last 5 games you didn't spot a 21-0 lead to both the Bills and the Dolphins?  Don't answer, yes you did.  Still confused. 



Since: Aug 27, 2008
Posted on: January 24, 2012 7:06 pm
 

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

Combined record of Patriots last 5 opponents, .500.  Combined record of Giants last 5 opponents, 28 games over .500.  And we went up against the NFC which is clearly the power conference at this point.  You were saying?



Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: January 24, 2012 7:05 pm
 

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

Not really sure what that last sentence means Navy.  And last 5 are Broncos (2x), Ravens (#1 D in NFL), Miami and Buff.  Miami is no slouch on D.  Oh, and what did we do to the Jets this season? Oh, only put up 30 pts and 37 pts against their 5th ranked def.  And Philly? Yeah, that's right we layed down 38 pts on their 8th ranked D.  Didn't you split games with them?


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com