Eli Manning and the New York Giants beg the "dynasty" question.
Are the New York Giants football's next dynasty?
Still, despite such adamant rejection of Big Blue's status as a gridiron empire, Giants fans have been talking. After all, with two Super Bowls in the past five years, the "D" word is bound to slither into conversation, right?
The bottom line is, New York is simply not a "dynasty" now by any means. True, the hardware speaks for itself, but an average of 9.8 wins per season and an average playoff seeding of over three in this five-year span doesn't quite cut it.
When, then, can the G-Men fall amongst the ranks of the all-time powerhouses? As the Giants gear up to defend the Lombardi Trophy, they'll vie to become the eighth team in league history to win consecutive championships.
But, is that what measures a dynasty?
Professional football is a uniquely subjective entity, and unlike other sporting outlets, such as Major League Baseball, there's no magic number, no statistical cut-off. Qualifications like 500 home runs, a .300 average, and a 3.00 ERA divide the good from the great on the diamond, but in football, it's not as easy.
Thus, we can't understand the Giants as a potential dynasty without knowing what exactly an NFL dynasty looks like. Let's start by providing a few much-needed measuring points.
Using the widely-accepted "dynasties" of the Super Bowl era, we're left with the Green Bay Packers of the 1960s, the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s, the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders of 1976-83, the San Francisco 49ers of the 1980s, the Dallas Cowboys from 1991-96 and the most recent football power, the New England Patriots from 2001 to the present day.
The Packers, however, see their dynasty saddled in the middle of the NFL/AFL merger, and are subsequently tough to apply to today's standards of winning, and will not be counted in our breakdown.
Are the Giants an NFL dynasty?
From 1972 through 1979, the Steelers averaged 11 victories per 14-game season, good for a whopping .765 winning percentage. They tallied four Super Bowls and seven division titles in eight years, sending an average of 8.9 players per season to the Pro Bowl.
From 1976 to 1983, amidst a location change, the Raiders won three Super Bowls, three division titles and compiled a .684 winning percentage.
Spanning the 1980s (1980-1989), the Niners won four Super Bowls and seven division titles with a cumulative .689 winning percentage.
The Dallas Cowboys won three Super Bowls and five consecutive division titles in the five-year period between 1992 and '96. They totaled a .729 winning percentage.
And the New England Patriots, since 2001, have accumulated three Super Bowl rings, nine division titles, 4.9 Pro Bowlers per season, and an astounding .761 winning percentage.
Right away, a few numbers seem to stick out. Three Super Bowls, five to seven division titles, and an average winning percentage of at least .680 is the ostensible defining stat line of an NFL dynasty.
So, where do the Giants stack up?
From 2007 to now, the Giants have racked up two Super Bowl championships, two division titles, 3.8 Pro Bowlers per season, and a .613 winning percentage.
Above all, in an era where judgements and determinations are made with blistering speed and minimal discretion, Eli and the G-Men simply need more time.
Even more so, the Giants need dominance. The Giants may have the inside track to dynasty status in terms of rings, but their cumulative winning percentage and division title count pale in comparison to the Cowboys, Niners and the rest of the NFL's best. Hypothetically, three consecutive 12-4 seasons would still give the Giants just a .641 mark, well below the minimum .680 winning percentage previously established.
Of course, Super Bowls are still the primary reference points for determining a football dynasty, and with one more ring, the Giants make an awfully strong case. And dynasty or not, you can't discredit what New York has been able to do for the past half-decade.
But, for those waiting on this era of Giants football to be christened as an NFL dynasty, it might be a while.