PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants talks with head coach Tom Coughlin during the second half against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 25, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Giants defeated the Eagles 29-16. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
In many respects, the New England Patriots and the New York Giants are similar teams. Both have 5-2 records and would make the playoffs if they began today, both have long tenured and experienced coaches, and both have Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. In addition, as Ed Valentine of Big Blue View explained to me recently, the Giants, in a similar way to the Patriots, are a "flawed" team.
Well, this team is right where it always is. Tom Coughlin has been head coach for 8 years and in seven of those the Giants were 5-2. In the other one they were 6-1. The other familiar thing is that nobody thinks the Giants are actually any good, except the Giants themselves. This is a flawed team. They have run the ball terribly. They have given up too many big plays on defense, especially against the run. They commit too many penalties. But, this is a typical Coughlin team. It will fight and scratch and keep playing and will almost always have a chance in the fourth quarter.
While the Patriots' strengths and weaknesses are certainly very different from those of the Giants, it is clear that these two teams aren't perfect and certainly have a ways to go to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
Similarly, both teams are really in need of a win tomorrow. At 5-2, the Patriots are tied with the Buffalo Bills at the top of the AFC East, but could be in a situation where they drop to third in the division if they lose tomorrow and lose to the Jets next week in the Meadowlands.
The Giants have proven a lot of their doubters wrong this year, and have opened up a two game lead on the rest of the NFC East - a division that was widely predicted to be controlled by the "dream team" Eagles. Nonetheless, those same Eagles look like they may finally be getting ready to go on a run - they have won two games in a row and a win-lose scenario from them and the Giants would put them just one game back with the Giants playing the 49ers, Eagles, Saints, and Packers over the next four weeks.
So for a minute, as we look towards tomorrow's match-up, lets put behind the history of Super Bowl XLII. These are two teams that have some of the league's best records, still have a ways to go, and both really need a win tomorrow at Gillette Stadium to retain their playoff positioning.