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: Dec 31, 2006
Posted on: January 25, 2012 4:53 pm

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

This two teams are capable of winning and honestly no one is sure who's going to win not even the experts. Stats are out the window because these two teams find ways to win. Its comes down who will make costly mistakes. Im a Patriot fan and sure it hurt when they lost the Super Bowl but It was to a great team and a Giant org. is a class act. It was close and the expect the same is Super Bowl. Hopefully the Patriots win this time and we can do it again Patriots and Giants Super Bowl 3 

Since: Nov 4, 2007
Posted on: January 25, 2012 9:41 am

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

Well, whoever the Pats had in there for a while at RG, I think, better get a lot better in two weeks.  He got beat like a red-headed step child.

I disagree that the Ravens defense is better.  Certainly not their defensive line.  The Giants have a much better pass rush than the Ravens.  Just back over the last 6+ games.  Giants had about 25 sacks and the Ravens were getting one or two a game, maybe.

Another difference between this Patriot team and the 2008 SB- that team threw deep for the most part.  Moss mainly.

This team does very little deep throwing.  Brady does a lot of three step drops, hurry up offense and doesn't give the defense as much time to get to him as before.  Expect to see a lot of that because they have great respect for the Giant pass rush.

Also, the Patriots have a better run game than people realize, simply because the other team HAS to respect the pass game so much.  Same as a great run team being able to exploit the secondary.

The big problem for the Patriots- the Giants offense, especially their passing game.  There is a chance Eli Manning could light this team up.  That, however, does not necessarily translate into POINTS.  That's one of the things the Pats actually do fairly well.

That's why using "yards" to rank defenses is completely moronic.

I see this game going one of three ways:

If the Giants are "on" in every aspect, they could, possibly win big.  Not the likeliest scenario.

The Giants could win a close game.  Probably the most likely scenario.

The Patriots win a close game.  Also a good chance.

The only thing I don't see is the Patriots blowing out the Giants.  Anything is possible, but right now I don't see it. 

Lastly, Brady had his worst game in two years last weekend.  What do you think the chances are he does that two weeks in a row?  I would say slim.

Since: Jan 8, 2007
Posted on: January 25, 2012 8:58 am

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

Good post Zayla1!  I too am tired of the foam-at-the-mouth, no content bunch (on both sides).  For what it's worth, here's my take:

1.  Despite the Vegas line, most articles I'm reading from disinterested parties favors the Giants.  I personally consider them to be the favorites.

2.  The Ravens gave the Gs a road-map on how to stop the Pats offense.  I don't think the Gs' defense is as good, but they have a game plan and if they use it, it spells trouble.   That, coupled with a supremely bad Brady performance (see next bullet) almost cost them the game.  The defense pulled them out of the fire.  The Pats "D" needs to come thru again and we need the offense firing on all cylinders to have a chance.

3.  Brady has bad days (witness the Ravens game).  The offense needed help from the defense to win.  If he brings his best (and I mean A-1 first class best) game, Pats have a shot.  But it needs to be all there.

Now we just have to see them actually play!

Since: Nov 4, 2007
Posted on: January 25, 2012 8:32 am

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

The thing that consistently bothers me is when someone, on here, or elsewhere think that either team is going to just roll over the other one. That sentiment seems to belong to Giant fans this year.  That can only be explained my immaturity I suspect.

I too am in the camp that don't think the Pats should be favored, but it's by 3 so who cares.  I go back to when the NFC was favored by AT LEAST two touchdowns every year, and normally covered.  If the Giants think that's "being the underdog" and need to use that mentality, they don't have the confidence in the team I thought they did.

Additionally, when people bring up the argument of what one team did against a completely different team, then compare it to what they other team did to another completely different team, and so on and so forth is just silly.

Someone put it well, it's not math.  A + B does not always equal C is matters such as these.

The Giants, in my opinion, deserve the slight edge because they've been playing well on both sides of the ball.  Slight edge.

The Patriots are coached by one of the best coaches in NFL history and have the best QB in the NFL, and maybe of all time.  That cannot be over-looked.

Sorry- no argument on Brady.  Plays 10 seasons under center, and takes his team to the Super Bowl in HALF of them.  HALF.  Never mind the endless amounts of awards and records.  HALF!

Also, please people, stop bringing up the game they played MONTHS AGO.  It's meaningless at this point.  That's the biggest difference for the Pats this time versus last.  The Pats were on the way down hill, this year they're playing their best.  They are actually a better team right now than they were at this time in 2008.  I still, give the edge to the Giants.

Lastly, please use some paragraphs when you write.  One long, long unbroken one is unreadable and I personally just go right past it, as others do to.

Pats in a close one, I hope.

Since: May 22, 2007
Posted on: January 25, 2012 7:04 am

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

I have to agree with Stuz commentary on the Giants Patriots and on rivalries in general. In the old days, and I'm going back a few years, you always knew all the Cowboys players or Eagles or Redskins, depending on where you were from. I knew Roger Staubach by sight and Drew Pearson, Tony Hill, etc. Now, the only guys I know are the stars because the get locked up in contracts.

The 2011 Giants - Patriots matchup is just another game with a bunch of players we never heard of. Of course we know Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady...Eli Manning and Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, etc. However, we don't know the rest of the team, only the stars. Free agency, Fantasy Football and other things have changed the way we view our teams, and so, the grudge match isn't really there, and nobody cares.

Since: Jan 9, 2012
Posted on: January 25, 2012 6:28 am

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

I totally agree it's in name only. This game is meaningless compared to the 2007 game. Had the Patroits won the 2007 Buper Bowl we would have heard that they were the best team ever after going undefeated. Thankfully they lost. A team cannot be considered the best ever when they lose the Super Bowl.

Since: Feb 11, 2009
Posted on: January 25, 2012 5:09 am

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

It's the way of sports in the modern era of free agents and salary caps.  That's why I laugh hen I hear that some individual has broken a club record  for some statistical category.  How can team records mean anything when rosters change so much with such frequency.  How can club records that extend beyond a season mean anything these days?  And rivalries/rematches, that's definitely a thing of the past as far as the NFL goes.  Once upon a time, there was real enmity between teams like Washington and Dallas or Oakland and Kansas City.  Don't even think that the Pittsburgh/Baltimore rivalry comes close to that kind of hatred these days.

Since: Jan 25, 2012
Posted on: January 25, 2012 12:59 am

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

Better QB?  Jeez, I know Eli has improved but to say he's better than Brady seems way off.  You can't even compare the two, really. 

Man I would be in Vegas every weekend raking in cash if football worked the way you describe it.  I wish it was easy to predict as saying "Pats defense couldn't get to Flacco so therefore they won't get to Manning."  Football isn't like a math problem though.  A + B doesn't always equal C, and anything can happen when any two teams play.  Guys get nervous, some guys make stupid mistakes, refs make bad calls, balls get batted for bizarre interceptions, etc.  Each team has great players, I don't see how Jacobs or Bradshaw is any more of a difference maker than Gronk or Branch. 

This game, like a lot of games, is probably going to come down to fundamental stuff:  turnovers, special teams, and/or how each team fares in the red zone. 

Since: Oct 15, 2006
Posted on: January 24, 2012 11:45 pm

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

We've seen time and time again where posters in these forums are made to eat crow. "My team is playing better", "Your team doesn't match up well with us"....etc. How about this....we play the game on the field. We both know these are good teams and any can win on any given day. Maybe some of you just feel the need on Feb 5th to say "I told you so!"

Since: Jan 18, 2007
Posted on: January 24, 2012 11:44 pm

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

For the record, the night the Giants drafted Pierre-Paul, I called it like I saw it:  Future Pro Bowler.  He hasn't disappointed.   86 Tackles, 16.5 Sacks.   =)

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