JEFF: Wait Til Next Year?
By Jeff Falconio
I like to think of the Super Bowl as a beginning rather than an ending. It's already time to start looking ahead to the 2008 season. There's always a tendency to assume that the Super Bowl champions will be the favorite the next year. However, the New York Giants will have a tough road to navigate through if they want to repeat.
First, you have to consider that New York didn't win their own division, which by the way was the toughest in the NFL in 2007. The NFC East put three teams in the playoffs. The only non-playoff team finished 8-8. In Dallas, DC, and Philly there's no warm, fuzzy feelings for the underdog who became champion. Also, for as good as the Giants looked in January, there were times when they looked plain ordinary during the regular season. At the midway point of the year New York was 6-2 and riding a six game winning streak. New York finished the year with a 10-6 record, meaning the Giants were only 4-4 during the second half of the season.
This Giants team is very similar to the the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers team that also won the Super Bowl as a wild card entrant. Pittsburgh featured a power running game led by an up-and-coming quarterback who came of age during the playoffs. Pittsburgh also had an aggressive, blitzing defense. The Steelers rattled off four straight wins to end the regular season then shot down four more opponents in the playoffs. But the success of one year rarely carries over to the next season. Pittsburgh found that out in 2006, going 8-8 and finishing out of the playoffs. Other teams will raid New York's roster for free agent talent. With a shiny new Super Bowl ring guys will want more money and with the Vince Lombardi trophy in New York, the Giants will have the target on their backs in '08. Hopefully, Eli Manning will learn a lesson from Ben Roethlisberger and keep the motorcycle in the garage.
Don't get me wrong, the Giants are loaded with talent and Super Bowl XLII was no fluke. The G Men are youthful enough to be contenders for the next few years. However, perception doesn't always equal reality and the favorite doesn't always win. Just ask the New England Patriots.