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.

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:'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'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.

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, 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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Since: Feb 4, 2008
Posted on: January 24, 2012 1:00 pm

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

posted by NFCEASTFAN
"Weird. The Giants can have a crummy team and win a Super Bowl, we have seen it before, and we see it again this year."

just blows my mind...

Since: Jan 9, 2007
Posted on: January 24, 2012 12:56 pm

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

Does anybody know how many sacks the Gmen had against the Pats e=earlier this season? My belief is that unless they sack Brady multiple times, that Brady will have a big game. Yes- he made some mistakes against the Ravens, but he'll be loaded for bear in the SB. Close game - but Pats win by a FG.

Since: Jul 24, 2007
Posted on: January 24, 2012 12:56 pm

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

Giants were 10-6 in 2007, not 9-7. Otherwise the Judgements posted earlier this week would be wrong (No 9-7 team has won a Super Bowl).

The Giants weren't weak, just inconsistent. Due to injuries, the running game never was steady and Jacobs didn't do so well when having the bulk of the carries. The cornerback play was also inconsistent, largely due again to injuries. Not to mention losses to the Seahawks, Eagles, and Redskins (twice!) where Manning clearly wasn't at his finest. Also, had Victor Cruz not broke out as well as he did, Manning would not have got the numbers he ended up with.

Another thing to note: in 2008, the Patriots and Giants played 3 times that year. In the preseason and regular season the Patriots beat them, but of course they lost in the Super Bowl. This year the Giants won both the preseason and regular season games. So they may be due to lose.

This may be coming from a Patriots fan, but I'm a Giants fan as well. I'm hoping this game is as exciting as the last time they met and could care less about the outcome.

Since: Oct 7, 2010
Posted on: January 24, 2012 12:49 pm

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

Gonna be a great game between two excellent franchises.  Giants are not hard to figure out, but almost imposible to stop when they play with confidence.  Pats are a thinking man's team with the scariest qb/coach combo of this generation and Wilfork is a one man wrecking ball.  As a lifelong Big Blue fan and NYC resident, i'm pulling for the NY Football Giants, but these Patriots are plain scary.

Since: Aug 31, 2008
Posted on: January 24, 2012 12:48 pm

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

NFC was clearly the tougher conference this year. The Giants have played all of the top teams in football this year minus a few from the AFC.  They lost to many of them during the season but despite the debacle in New Orleans they were in in every game until the end. This team has played the best and is now beating the best.  The Patriots have played who exactly?  they lost to the Giants, the Steelers and the Bills and have beaten the AFC East (same division that the Giants swept 4-0 this season) and the Ravens in a game that they could have nearly lost on their home turf.  In sum, they have beaten only one winning team all season yet they find themselves in the Super Bowl.  Intersting,  how and why the Giants are underdogs but why should this even be a good game?  they beat the Pats on their field minus their no.1 wr in nicks and minus their no.1 rb in Bradshaw.  Now insert Nicks, Bradshaw and a totally different player in Cruz and how do the Pats stop this team? The Giants already defended Gronk and Hernandez and gave up 20 pts. This is a great matchup for the Giants.  Try matching up a secondary made up of practice squad players vs the best WR tandem in the game and a QB who is playing at the highest level vs a Defense that cannot get any pressure without blitzing.....

Since: Sep 12, 2006
Posted on: January 24, 2012 12:41 pm

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

I hate the two weeks between the Conference Championships & Superbowl.
The hype is already on overkill and it's only been one day.

Some nameless d-bag on you-tube could come up with the same opinions that all the so-called experts will spew over and over for the next two weeks.

Just play already. Also win or lose, this is Brady's FIFTH Superbowl and with the young team he has around him, the future still looks bright for the possibility of a return for a sixth.

Who knows who wins this game, the Patriots should be the underdogs, but everyone builds them up simply because of BB & TB12.
Vegas picked them of course.

It will be interesting to see what BB comes up with for a gameplan because the Giants aren't going to do anything different than they have been, it's just the way they are.

I wonder if anyone knows the key to beating Brady is to smash him in his face as Ricky Williams said prior to the Ravens losing?
No? Really? You mean if you put pressure on a qb they are less likely to play well? You don't say. Hmmmm?????

I will say that Eli is already a better post-season qb than Peyton because Peyton's only been in ONE Superbowl. Overall though? No way.
Also Eli's had a more complete team around him than Peyton. You put Peyton on the current Giants team & the numbers would be insane.

I hate the Mannings period & I hate all New York teams.....will give the Mannings & Giants their props, but I still hate them.

Oh wait, I just heard somebody on the radio say NE was the 31st ranked defense this season. NO WAY, REALLY? How'd they get to the Superbowl..........................

........PLEASE GIVE IT A REST.............Man why can't they just play the game this Sunday the way it should be.
Two weeks is a JOKE & SO OVERHYPED.

Since: Nov 4, 2007
Posted on: January 24, 2012 12:39 pm

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

Romo......... I don't know anyone, except maybe some immature fans, that think the Giants have a crummy team.  My guess is most so-called experts will be picking the Giants.

The Giants have an excellent team that deserves tremendous respect.  You don't need to write a novella to prove it.  They've done a damn good job of that on their own.

As I said, I'm rooting for the Pats but give the edge to the Giants.

Since: Jun 13, 2011
Posted on: January 24, 2012 12:38 pm

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

@FOO  " I still can't believe that the RAVENS were the first team that the Patriots beat this year with a winning record LMAO"

As a REAL football fan, you should know that the Patriots defeated EIGHT teams who finished with .500 records, hence, REAL football fans should know that those same teams would've had winning records had they not lost.

And the Ravens didn't really make him look foolish on Sunday, Brady in essence did that himself.  Baltimore got to him once...the rest were a series of poor throws, and to be fair, New England did have 25 first downs, they did move the ball but just not in large chunks (only one play over 20 yards).  Patriots turned it over four times in the first time against the Giants, there's your whodunit in that one, and they are certainly capable of doing it again.

However, if a team makes it to the freakin Super Bowl, I'd say they were "for real," any REAL football fan could figure that out.

Since: Feb 4, 2008
Posted on: January 24, 2012 12:36 pm

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

I don't understand how people can say the Giants have a "crummy" team.  This is a talented team.  have they played up to expectation, no.  For the last 3 years they have sucked...they should be a 12-4 or 11-5 team every year with this talent.  Since Plexiglass shot himself in the leg it has taken time to get the unity and brotherhood back in this team.  They are gelling right is great! 

Tell me where they are weak:
Coach - what can I say about Tom, he gets them ready when they need to be ready...Gillibride drives me crazy...but...oh well

QB - Top 10 (maybe better)
RB - Top 10 (should be better, but injuries and line has slowed them down)
OL - This line is pulling it together.  They have put the pieces together, but they were broken for part of the season.  They could use at least one 1st round draft pick on this line to solidify them.
TE - The combo of the 3 guys they are using is very solid.  With another year to work with Eli, they will be outstanding next year.

DL - Not a better line in the game, I would take these guys over anyone.
LBs - Very young, they are getting better.  Boley is a beast and Blackburn has solidified this unit and is a smart guy.
Safties - I like the guys we have. Kenny is a beast, Rolle is solid and Grant brings the wood. 
CBs - Decimated by injuries.  If we have Corey, TT, Ross and Prince next year, they are going to be one of the best groups in the leage.

Punter/holder - Weatherford is one of the best.  Can do it all...directional kicking, long kicking...he is great.
Place Kicker - Tynes gets the job done...he has been very solid.  Is he the best in the game, no, but he is very solid.

As I said, this team is talented...they have played down to opponents in the past...not sure why.  I think Tom C, needs to be a better driver on those games that don't seem to be all that important, but you can't argue with the success.  Talent wise, I would match them against anyone.

Since: Jul 20, 2010
Posted on: January 24, 2012 12:36 pm

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

I'm going with the 07 prediction that the PATS will blow out the Gmen. Yes, the Gmen are playing better and are pretty much healthy. Yes, they pulled off a miracle last time , which was more luck then ability. The Gmen were 7-7 at one point and that team is still out there. The PATs have never waivered all year.( I didn't say they didn't lose) The PATs are getting better on DEF. and yes the PATS have a huge chip on their shoulders and beating them for a third time in a row would be a tall order for any team. Gronk and Hernandez will be to much for the Gmen and Brady won't miss them this week. It is still Bill and Tom and they will have a little something different for the Gmen in the Superbowl. PATS 31  Gmen  23

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