Plain and Simple: The Giants put an end to the ‘Patriot Dynasty’ on Sunday.
More Complex: Have the Giants started a dynasty of their own?
The Giants join the Steelers and Patriots as the NFL’s only teams to win multiple Super Bowl titles in the last ten years. Those Steeler and Patriots teams were successful because they had an elite quarterback, a great head coach, and returned a core group of players that tasted success and more importantly–motivated others. Luckily for the Giants, they have all three facets, returning next season.
Throughout the regular season injuries and uninspired defensive play seemed to plague the Giants more frequently than most teams. Terrell Thomas missed the entire season, Michael Boley was in-and-out of the lineup, and Justin Tuck played through a plethora of injuries.
Game wise, the Giants were absolutely waxed by the Saints, 49-23 in the Superdome and dropped two embarassing games to the Washington Redskins. However, the Giants used losses as motivation–which led to a six-game winning streak, culminating with their Super Bowl victory. Going into next season, the Giants will hopefully be a healthier team that relies more on its young talent. Remember, Jason Pierre-Paul did not officially ‘arrive’ until this season and the Prince, well, he has yet to arrive. When he does arrive, watch out. This Giant defense can be even scarier next season.
On offense, the Giants are basically set at the skill positions. Eli is Eli. The backfield is ready to go. Same thing with the wide receivers, minus Mario Manningham who will leave in free agency. Jake Ballard tore his ACL in the Super Bowl, so the Giants may explore other options. The offensive line is a little old, so expect Jerry Reese to inject some youth.
Based on strength of schedule and opponent record, the Giants faced the third-toughest schedule in 2011. While the schedule for next season hasn’t been officially set, the Giants will play each of their NFC East foes twice, the NFC South, AFC North. That is another brutal slate of the games that will include Dallas (twice), Philly (twice), New Orleans, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Baltimore. That’s five playoff teams from this year and two more (Dallas, Philly) that are playoff caliber.
Nine of their sixteen games will come against seasoned playoff opponents. Yikes.
Regard of schedule, the NFL is tough, week in and week out. While those aforementioned games will be tough, the Giants have proven this year that a tough regular season shapes a team into a strong playoff team.
While Dallas, Philly, and Washington will all look to make moves, the Giants are once again the team to beat in the NFC East. Eli is playing the best football of his life and the Giant defense is very, very good. Add in the wide receivers and running backs and this team has every bit of the a ‘Dynasty’ in the making.