The Lonely Weekend between Championship Weekend and the Super Bowl
The Bad News: New York Giants’ QB Eli Manning and DE Jason Pierre-Paul will no longer be playing in tomorrow’s Pro Bowl, and WR Victor Cruz, a 2nd alternate for the NFC team, will not get an opportunity to be a Pro Bowl… at least not for this season.
The Good News: That’s because the Giants are in the frickin’ Super Bowl!!!
Left for dead in mid-December after a lifeless performance against the Washington Redskins dropped New York’s record to a pedestrian 7-7, the Giants have rattled off five straight victories to claim the title of NFC Champion and play in next weekend’s Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis. And their opponent: the New England Patriots. Hmm… where have we heard this story before?
In fact, the similarities to 2007 are incredibly eerie. After a lifeless performance against the Redskins in Week 15 dropped the Giants’ record to 9-5, the Giants were viewed as having their playoff hopes in serious danger, and a definite one-and-done even if they did get in. Then the Giants came back twice to beat the Bills in Buffalo, lost to 15-0 New England in a game that still felt like a win, beat a NFC South team in the first round (Tampa Bay), beat the No. 1 seed in the divisional playoffs (Dallas), and then won the NFC Championship against the No. 2 seed (Green Bay) in overtime, with the winning field goal by Lawrence Tynes getting set up by a turnover (Brett Favre interception). Finally, the Giants wore their road whites and upset the (heavily) favored Patriots.
This year, the Giants beat the Jets and Cowboys in Week 16 and 17 to clinch the NFC East division title, beat an NFC South team (Atlanta) in the first round, beat the No. 1 seed (Green Bay) in the divisional round, then won the NFC Championship against the No. 2 seed (San Francisco) in overtime, with the winning field goal by Lawrence Tynes getting set up by a turnover (Kyle Williams fumble). Finally, the Giants will wear their road whites and and hope to upset the (slightly) favored Patriots.
Here’s another similarity. In 2007, the Giants lost 38-35 to the then-undefeated Patriots during the regular season, then avenged the loss in the playoffs. This year, the Giants lost 38-35 to the then-undefeated Packers during the regular season, then avenged the loss in the playoffs.
But here’s a big difference. In 2007, the Giants lost to the Patriots during the regular season, then beat them in the Super Bowl. This year, the Giants beat the Patriots in the regular season, so it’s actually New England that will look to avenge the earlier loss.
The Patriots finished 13-3 this season, although did not beat a single team all regular season that finished with a winning record. That ominous streak did end in the AFC Championship Game however, where they beat the 12-4 Baltimore Ravens. To be fair, the Patriots did beat the Denver Broncos, New York Jets, San Diego Chargers, Oaklands Raiders, Dallas Cowboys, and Philadelphia Eagles, all which finished with an 8-8 record and might have had a winning record had they played someone else.
The Giants finished 9-7, but have probably been the hottest team since Christmas. New England has been pretty hot as well, having won 10 straight since losing to the Giants in Week 9.
A big question, however, if how the off week will affect the two teams.
I’ll be back later this week with my pick, and I will be again live blogging during the game (although I obviously have more at stake than Packers-Steelers).