Last January, the New York Giants squeaked into the playoffs with a paltry 9-7 record. From there, the team went on a tear, knocking off the Atlanta Falcons in the Wild Card Round followed by the heavily favored Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round and NFC Championship, respectively.
Four seasons earlier, in January of 2008, a mediocre 10-6 Giants squad went on a similar playoff run, upsetting seemingly far superior teams away from home on the road to the Super Bowl.
Both seasons ended with an unpredictable one-score Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots and an MVP honor for Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
At times during the 2011 season, New York didn’t look like a playoff-caliber team, let alone the future Super Bowl champions. After a 6-2 start, the Giants went on a four-game losing streak, which included an ugly performance against a Philadelphia Eagles team in disarray and a Monday Night throttling at the hands of Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
However, the Giants were able to right the ship and win seven of their final eight games with playoffs included. Many believe the hot streak will continue into next season and New York will be an early favorite to repeat in 2012.
Due in large part to their off-putting regular-season record last year, the evidence to support such a claim is not insurmountable. However, come September, the chips may still lie in the Giants’ favor.