Tonight at 8:30 ET, NFL Network will be re-airing Super Bowl XLII in its entirety. It’s beginning — and over the next 13 days you’ll see more highlights of that memorable game than your brain can possibly handle. Eventually, you’ll have it memerized, retaining that second-quarter three-and-out from the Patriots (the one in which they went to Laurence Maroney on three straight plays) in place of your first born’s middle name.
Get used to it, because there are some fascinating and eerie similarities between that game and this one, starting with the fact that the same two teams, same two quarterbacks and same two coaches will be competing in it. That’s happened just twice in NFL history, so we have an excuse to pick apart that recent Super Bowl meeting in a quasi-pathetic attempt to draw conclusions about the game that will be played in Indianapolis on Feb. 5.
But the biggest difference, aside from the fact that a total of only 25 active players are still left over from then, might be the mindsets of the two teams.
The Patriots were a 13.5-point favorite for that game in Glendale. They were 18-0. They were Goliath. The Giants were a wild-card team with no expectations. They were 13-6. They were David.
Based on that point spread, New York’s shocking victory was the biggest Super Bowl upset since Joe Namath and the Jets upended the Baltimore Colts in 1969 (New York was an 18-point dog for that game).
This year, no one’s sleeping on the Giants. They no longer have that “nothing to lose” feeling.
This year, the Patriots don’t feel the added pressure of perfection. They lost this year, three times — once to these very Giants…at home! They aren’t being labelled immortal.
In terms of perception and from Vegas’ standpoint, New England is still the favorite. But this year, it’s not David and Goliath, and the Patriots are only favored by a field goal, with a strong possibility that the line keeps moving in New York’s direction over the next two weeks.
This Giants team has more experience than New England does. While they were one of the youngest teams in football when they shook up the sports world back in February of 2008, they’re now a veteran squad, with 17 active players still around from that Super Bowl. The now younger Patriots have only seven left over.
The Giants will once again wear white as the home team in Indy. They’ll again live or die by a hot-and-cold quarterback and a menacing pass rush. The Patriots will once again have their golden boy under center with his elite group of targets (the names have changed, but the output has not). Both teams will again have their cranky geniuses on the sidelines.
But the comparison stops there. Because this time, both teams will likely have completely different mentalities.