( Positively my last post about football until next season !)
Now that the Super Bowl is over , football fans’ thoughts turn to the 2012-2013 season and the perennial question : Can the champs repeat ? Some Giant players have already answered , saying that yes, they can. My own answer, as a diehard Giant fan, is that the Giants stand a slim chance but they probably will not repeat. In saying this , I am not being pessimistic , merely realistic.
It is more difficult to repeat as champs in pro football than it is in any other sport.There are many reasons for this but the biggest is that the NFL playoffs are sudden death affairs unlike pro basketball, baseball or hockey which are best of seven affairs. No matter how good a team is , one bad afternoon can spell the end of Super Bowl dreams. We saw what happened to the Packers and the Saints , in my opinion the two most talented teams in the playoffs this year.The Packers , the reigning champions , were coming off a great 15-1 season and yet were manhandled by the Giants in the playoffs.The same thing happened to the New England Patriots when they played the Giants in Super Bowl X LII, four years ago. No , it is very difficult to repeat.
Here are the reasons ( in no particular order) why I am not hopeful about the Giants chances next year:
1.The strength of the schedule . In the NFL , the more successful a team is , the tougher its schedule the following year. As Super Bowl champs , the Giants can expect a killer schedule in 2013.Not only that , every team will be laying in wait for them . There is nothing more teams love than to knock of the reigning champs.
2. The NFC East: The Giants will have a tough time , as always , merely getting into the playoffs because they play in the NFC East. The division has two other perennial contenders, the talent laden Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles.It also has the unpredictable Washington Redskins who seem to have the Giants number .All in all , the division is so balanced that it will be difficult for two NFC East teams to make the playoffs; they keep knocking each other off.
3.Free Agent Defections: Following a Super Bowl victory , players who are not locked up in long-term contracts always try to get more money elsewhere . Given the short span of most NFL careers , who can blame them for wanting to make hay while the sun shines? Still , this adds to the Giants problems. Osi Umeniyora was already unhappy with his contract and wanted it re-negotiated last year. I doubt that he will be able to get what he wants from the Giants. The Giants are loaded at the defensive end positions with Justin Tuck , Jean Pierre Paul and others and don’t have the cap space to keep Osi happy. I look for him to leave this season. Brandon Jacobs , like Osi , has been unhappy with his contract and I, for one , would not be unhappy to see him go. For all his physical attributes, he is not effective for one of his size .Other notable free agents are punter Steve Weatherford who had a fantastic season , WR Mario Manningham ( who is almost certainly gone because he will want a starting role and a commensurate contract), CB Aaron Ross , aging veteran OL Kareem Mckenzie ,CB Terrell Thomas and MLB Jonathan Goff. The Giants are set at QB with Eli Manning , and on the defensive line, but there will be many changes around them as they try to hang on to some of their free agents and bolster their weak spots. Next year’s New York Giants will have a number of new faces.
4. A lack of hunger: Inevitably , a team that has won the Super Bowl loses a little bit of its hunger the following year . And so small is the difference between winning and losing , that this can be fatal. Even for Tom Coughlin , who is in a class with Bill Belichick , as a motivator and a shrewd coach , it is going to be very difficult to keep the Giants playing at a championship level throughout the regular season and beyond.
5. New England Patriots:With two first rounders and two second rounders in the upcoming draft , the Patriots will be able to address their weaknesses and then some . Add to that the fact that many aging stars are eager to play for the Patriots in the hope of getting a ring. Bill Belichick is a shrewd judge of talent and they are already loaded at most positions . If they can get a WR receiver with breakaway speed and improve the defense , they have to be the favorites. In fact they already are ( see the odds below).
6. Peyton Manning: Eli’s older brother seems to have reached the end of his Indianapolis career. With the Colts poised to take Andrew Luck and with Peyton due for a $ 28 million payday in early March , I look for him to be cut. If he is able to bounce back from his injury and if he signs with one of the contenders , say the San Francisco 49ers , he makes them instant favorites.
The oddsmakers seem to agree with my assessment of the Giants chances. The posted odds for winning the Super Bowl next year are as follows:
New England Patriots 5 to 1.
Green Bay Packers 11 to 2
Philadelphia Eagles & Pittsburgh Steelers ( tied) 6 to 1
New York Giants 8 to 1
New Orléans Saints & San Francisco 49ers ( tied) 10 to 1
San Diego Chargers & Houston Texans ( tied ) 12 to 1
I am more or less in agreement with these odds , but I would have picked the New Orléans Saints higher. The Saints, I thought, were the most complete team in this year’ s playoffs and ,next year , the Super Bowl will be held in New Orléans . The Saints could wind up having home field advantage throughout ( including the Super Bowl) and they are well-nigh invincible when they play in the Dome.
Also , I don’t feel the Chargers have any chance as long as Norv Turner is head coach.
However , all this is just pleasurable speculation. The Las Vegas oddsmakers are good at what they do but they are by no means prescient. This year the New England Patriots were listed at 9 to 2 but the Giants were only 25 to 1 and we all know what happened.
Giant fans , enjoy the off season and keep the faith.
GO GIANTS !!