Now that the Giants are Super Bowl Champions with a 21-17 victory over the Patriots, it is time to evaluate their chances of repeating. Repeating has proven to be extremely difficult to accomplish in this era of rampant parody. As we saw with the last three games of the NFL season, the Conference Championship games and the Super Bowl, the teams were so close with a razor-thin margin for error. A play or two here or there made all the difference. Players like Kyle Williams and Sterling Moore were the goat and the hero, respectively. Coaches and players prepared like mad men the entire week and despite their neurotic attention to detail, players came out of nowhere to decide the outcome. With that in mind, the Giants face an uphill battle to get to New Orleans next February.
There are several factors in the Giants’ favor as they begin their offseason as champions. Their defensive line, that terrorized opponents all postseason long, will only get better next year. Jason Pierre-Paul emerged as an elite player at his position in only his second year. All the other starters will be back, motivated to achieve better consistency throughout the regular season.
General Manager Jerry Reese has done a fantastic job building the roster, getting elite athletes on the edges, but their linebackers, offensive line and tight ends left a lot to be desired. Through the Draft and free agency, he will have the opportunity to improve those areas. 2012 will be another year for Eli Manning to work with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. He developed remarkable rapport with both Nicks and Cruz in 2011, while going to Mario Manningham on the biggest throw of the game late in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. Manningham will be a free agent and it is unclear whether the Giants will re-sign him and also give Cruz a huge raise.
Other than Manningham, Kareem McKenzie is the only other key free agent the Giants have. Their roster should come back fairly intact next year as they begin their title defense. Eli Manning will enter next year supremely confident and the Tom Coughlin watch will not exist at all in 2012 for the New York Giants.
The Giants’ No. 1 opponent they will face trying to repeat is history. Only two teams in the last 20 years, the ‘98 Broncos and the ‘03 Patriots, have successfully defended their title. No one repeats in today’s NFL. The parody is too great and the margin for error is too small. The Giants’ division will be vastly improved in 2012. The Eagles and Cowboys will have a full offseason to familiarize themselves with the new schemes brought to their teams by Juan Castillo/Jim Washburn and Rob Ryan respectively. The Giants lost to the Redskins twice in 2011 and with the possibility of Peyton Manning coming to D.C., the Redskins might be vastly improved in 2012. The Giants came within a missed Tony Romo pass to Miles Austin from not even being in the Playoffs. The Eagles were 5-1 in the NFC East and missed the Playoffs due to five fourth quarter collapses. The Giants can expect stiff inter-division competition next year.
Dew Brees and Aaron Rodgers still captain teams in the same conference, so it seems unlikely that the Giants will have home-field advantage throughout the Playoffs unless they put together an immaculate regular season. San Francisco is another team that will always be in contention for a high seed in the NFC because of their defense and the pathetic division they play in. Even though Manning and the Giants have proven to perform better on the road in the postseason, the amount of luck and good fortune to succeed like that will run out eventually.
In recent years, the Giants have not played the role of the favorite well at all. They routinely lose to bad teams, at home, as big favorites. Expectations are the enemy of the Giants. They play at their best when they’re underdogs and their backs are against the wall. As defending champions, they will get everyone’s best shot. There are too many obstacles for the Giants to overcome to repeat next year.