Despite suffering their first loss of the season on Sunday night, the New England Patriots are currently dominating the league. The New York Giants meanwhile hover around the .500 mark, playing some of the most inconsistent football in the NFL, making them far from a lock for the postseason. Sound familiar?
In 2007, the Pats ran through an unprecedented 16-0 regular season, only to fall to the G-Men (who finished 10-6) in historic fashion on February 3, 2008 in Super Bowl XLII. It was one of the most thrilling games in league history, most remembered for an iconic “helmet catch” by David Tyree. Four years later, New England and New York met on the biggest stage again on February 5, 2012 in Super Bowl XLVI. The Pats had finished a tremendous regular season at 13-3, while the Giants were hot in the playoffs after a mediocre 9-7 regular campaign. Again, the Giants came out on top in one of the most intense Super Bowls ever.
It is now 2015 and we’re still a couple of months from Super Bowl 50. Sticking to its four-year pattern, the Pats are well on their way to yet another top seed in the American Football Conference, while the Giants would not even be in the tournament if the season ended today. The Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, and Arizona Cardinals may have legitimate title hopes for this year, but here’s why it could be another Patriots/Giants Super Bowl rematch.
It’s true, the Patriots have not even locked up a top seed for the upcoming postseason — heck, they don’t even have that magical “X” next to their team name in the standings, signifying a clinched playoff berth. However, at 10-1 and with a fairly friendly remaining schedule, look for New England to grab at least the No. 2 seed, but more likely the first spot.
Who could you honestly see beating Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in January? Better yet, would anybody even stand a chance at dethroning the champions, especially with traveling to Gillette Stadium? It appears that right now, the top threats are the Bengals and Broncos, with some teams, such as the Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Texans, and Pittsburgh Steelers, viewed as dark horses.
Of course, Cincinnati will not be trusted playing in the winter until Andy Dalton and Marvin Lewis can get the infamous playoff monkey off of their backs. Denver’s defense is elite, but with the hot play of Brock Osweiler, they will have quite a quarterback conundrum when Peyton Manning returns from injury. The Colts, Chiefs, and Texans all have their own issues at quarterback, and the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger seems to get injured every week. Despite the injuries attacking the Patriots’ offense lately, as long as Brady remains under center, they will remain the favorites in the AFC.
For the Giants, the state of their 2015 season is a much different story. If they were in any other division in football — save for the AFC South — Tom Coughlin’s bunch would be in serious trouble. However, mired in a two-game losing streak at 5-6 overall, this team still has a remarkable chance at making the playoffs. Just two games separate the Giants and Washington Redskins at the top of the NFC East and the Dallas Cowboys at 3-8. The Philadelphia Eagles are stuck in the middle at 4-7.
Among the four groups, New York is the only team that could very well make some noise in the postseason if they qualify. Dallas lost Tony Romo to injury again; this time for the rest of the year. Philadelphia has no quarterback, their running game has been atrocious, and their defense has surrendered 90 points in the last two games. Washington is winless away from home and has a trio of road games left on the schedule. Quite simply, while Eli Manning is a far cry from elite QB status, he’s the best in the division and can easily heat up. If Eli makes it into the playoffs and has a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. at his disposal, look out.
Check out the striking similarities between this year’s Giants team and the 2011 version. Like this year, the 2011 team went through various ups and downs, but were able to capture the division at 9-7. This was another season where they played the four AFC teams and in 2011 they had great success at 4-0. They’ve already defeated Buffalo and lost to New England this season, but have winnable games against the Jets and Dolphins in Weeks 13 and 14. The Panthers and Cardinals look like the teams to beat right now in the NFC, but it’s not hard to forget that New York knows a think or two about being the underdog.
Maybe it’s the four-year pattern that we’re banking on — and it may be a naive thought. However, with the current standings of both the Patriots and Giants, we can’t help but get excited when we see the similarities to the 2007 and 2011 teams. If their previous championship matchups are any indication of what might lie ahead, football fans could be in for another unforgettable Super Bowl in February.
Follow Victor on Twitter @vbarbosa1127