This has been the chant around New York and by Giants fans across the nation since the night of Super Bowl XLVI last February when the New York Giants came from behind to defeat the New England Patriots 21-17.
This word has been filling the airwaves and uttered on every TV sports show the entire off-season. There is a certain disdain and a measure of “hater-ism” emanating from that part of the brain…bleeding from the heart that the typical Eagles fan feels, wondering what it’s like to be World Champs. Never having been in the position to offer such profanity or utter the word, we will set out to see if this is the year the 2012 Eagles will win it all. What does New York have that we don’t? Aside from Super Bowl rings that is.
The Giants have won two of the last five Super Bowls (four in franchise history) by beating perennially, the best franchise in football (the New England Patriots), twice. Finishing 9-7 and edging out the Eagles in the process, they made their way to The Big Dance by simply outplaying the competition. Less than five weeks remain until the start of Training Camp, and much of the talk around the league has been in the Eagles favor, but the road to the Super Bowl goes through New York right? Well, the most talented team in the Andy Reid era will have something different to say about that.
Philadelphia boasted one of the top offenses in the NFL in 2011 with rankings in the top ten in every major category. But costly turnovers caused the team to finish with a -14 turnover ratio and out of the playoffs, losing the division by one game to the N.Y. Giants. The Eagles have locked up two young superstar weapons in the league’s best running back, LeSean McCoy and dazzling speedster, wide receiver DeSean Jackson (for the next five years) while developing one of the best offensive lines in recent memory, even with the loss of Jason Peters for the season with a torn Achilles tendon.
Quarterback Michael Vick will bounce back from a subpar 2011 season, but will find it difficult at times against what could be the best D-Line that N.Y. has had. Defensive end Justin Tuck is the face of the defense, and had 11 sacks last year, but beware the Long Arm of the “Paul”. Jason Pierre-Paul is a superstar in the making who led the team with 16 sacks and Osi Umenyiora also had nine on a defense that produced 48 total sacks.
The Giants finished 27th in total defense giving up 25 points a game and 376 ypg. New York’s “D” surrendered 255 ypg through the air and allowed 28 touchdown’s, while opposing running backs gathered 121.2 ypg and 15 touchdowns. But statistics aside, the Giants offer a very physical defense that can disrupt any top flight team. Just ask the Packers and the Patriots.
Vick and company will challenge the Giants short and long with a deep corp. of receivers that will battle a New York secondary that had 20 interceptions. Safety Kenny Phillips and defensive back Aaron Ross both finished last year with four interceptions each. But you can’t beat the Giants if you’re not taking care of the football. They Eagles offense must correct that. “If” that becomes an issue at all in 2012 the defense will bail them out of a few jams.
The Giants offense offers the reigning Super Bowl MVP in Eli Manning, a now elite quarterback who went 30-40 and 296 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl and looks to add to that status this season. They did however lose running back Brandon Jacobs, tight end Jake Ballard, and receiver Mario Manningham to free agency. Rueben Randle, second round pick out of LSU will compete with Domenik Hixon for the third receiver spot. Randle could be the surprise of the draft for New York.
Either way you slice it, Philly’s secondary, after getting the work in at the OTA’s and at Mini-Camp, have shown great promise to being the defensive backfield we expected last year. Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie are looking like the All-Pro players they were supposed to be.
The Eagles defense will be tough to run on, but running back Ahmad Bradshaw will try to give the Eagles all they can handle. Kevin Gilbride says he likes the quickness and explosiveness he sees in first round pick, running back David Wilson from Virginia Tech, a back with pass catching ability and breakaway speed. But against the likes of Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin, former Pro Bowler Trent Cole and new run stopping Middle Linebacker DeMeco Ryans, the Eagles could have one of the toughest defenses in the NFL. Throw in one of the finest draft classes Philadelphia has had in recent memory and…yeah, we’re talking about going back to the Dance and finally getting that elusive World Championship!
The 2012 Philly-New York rivalry will pick up this year where it left off from 2011, and promises to be games that will go down as classics. The Eagles already know they can beat the Giants, that’s a given. But this year there’s a certain confidence, a silent swagger, a quiet calm that speaks louder for them this year than any one player could at his eloquent best. The Giants have shown it’s not how you start but how you finish, but in Philly that didn’t quite ring true as the Eagles finished one game short of the playoffs.
Season prediction: Eagles split, winning at home but losing a close one in New York. Eagles win the NFC East Crown. There will be no Giants repeat ending any conversation of a New York Dynasty.