This is a tough question to answer, as parity in the NFL these days makes dynasties and Super Bowl repeats difficult. The Giants are a perfect example – they were not the best team for the majority of the season, but they were the best team when it counted. They got hot down the stretch and put together a great run through the playoffs.
But part of the reason that they did get hot down the stretch was that they were plagued by injuries early in the season, and they got a lot of key players back in time for their playoff run. When healthy, they have as much talent on their roster as anybody in the league.
As to the dynasty question – they’ve won 2 Super Bowls in the last 5 years. That’s a start, although the metric has traditionally been 3-4 wins to count – the Steelers won 4 in the seventies, the 49ers won 5 in the eighties and nineties, the Cowboys won 3 in the nineties, and the Patriots won 3 in the 2000s.
So, to become a dynasty, the Giants need to keep on rolling and win another 1-2 Super Bowls in the next few years. Can they do it?
Looking just at average roster age, the Giants are one of the 10 youngest teams in the league, averaging 25.7 years of age across the roster. By comparison, the Patriots are the sixth oldest team in the league. But just looking at average roster age doesn’t give the full picture – the real question is the age of the starters, and in particular the star players on the team.
Manning has 8 years in, but is well in his prime for a quarterback. Looking at the other key starters on offense – Victor Cruz is in his second year, Hakeem Nicks is in his third, Mario Manningham in his fourth. Tight End Jake Ballard has just finished his second year. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw just finished his fifth year, and Brandon Jacobs his seventh. Fullback Henry Hynoski is a rookie. Of the offensive skill players, only Jacobs is starting to get up there in years.
The defense is a bit older – Jason Pierre-Paul is in his second year, but Osi Umenyiora is 30 and Justin Tuck is 28. Linebackers Michael Boley is 29, Mathias Kiewanuka is 28. Defensive backs – Corey Webster and Aaron Ross are both 29, and safety Antrel Rolle is 29 as well. There is some young talent behind them, like rookie corner Prince Amukamara, but the younger players are untested.
The other impediment that the Giants face is that the NFC in particular, is loaded. The San Francisco 49ers have a young up and coming team, after their first year with Jim Harbaugh, and they were a couple punt return errors from being in the Super Bowl this year instead of the Giants. The Packers are loaded with talent and looked unbeatable for most of the season. The Saints have Drew Brees, a juggernaut offense including a multi-headed threat at running back, and an opportunistic defense.
Any of those teams stand at least as good a chance as the Giants of representing the NFC next season. At this point, the best we can say is that the Giants have the talent to do it, but will need to get younger on defense to maintain the level that they’ve been at. And they will need a bit of luck, giving the other talented NFC teams that they will need to overcome.
Ironically, although the Patriots are older, they look to have an easier road back to the Super Bowl because the AFC looks weaker. The Colts completely went into rebuilding mode. The other top teams in the AFC – the Ravens and Steelers – have great young talent on offense, but the defenses that they’ve lived and died with are getting older. The biggest challenge in the AFC may come from the Texans, who had a rash of injuries problems all season and still finished 10-6. If they stay healthy, they may be the AFC team to beat next season.
All in all, the odds are against Giants-Patriots III in Super Bowl XLVII, but that’s why they play the games.
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