The Giants have claimed the Lombardi Trophy four times.
Although at the conclusion of each of these seasons the outcome was always the same, some of New York's first-place finishes were more significant than others. Whether it was a particularly dominant season or an absolutely unforgettable title game, each of the Giants' eight league championships has come with a varying degree of momentousness.
To determine the level of significance, several quantifiable factors—such as winning percentage, point differential and number of Pro Bowlers/All-Pros/Hall of Famers on the roster—will be plugged into the equation. However, many abstract factors, such as the magnitude of the championship or storyline of the season, will also be considered.
In this article, I will rank the Giants' eight championship seasons in ascending order of significance. I will conclude each slide with a brief, one-sentence explanation on that season's rank.
All statistical information courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com
Title claimed: 1927 NFL Champions (No title game)
Regular season record: 11-1-1
Head coach: Earl Potteiger
Under the guidance of their third coach in as many years of existence, the Giants claimed their first NFL title. With 11 wins, one loss and one tie, the Giants were named league champions simply for concluding the season with the best record, edging out the 7-2-1 Green Bay Packers and 9-3-2 Chicago Bears, two teams that would prove to be the class of the NFL's formative years. An official championship game was not held until five years later, following the 1933 season.
Even without a championship game, the '27 Giants were no less impressive. Anchored by a stifling defense, the Giants steamrolled past most of the competition, collecting 10 shutout performances and allowing just three touchdowns all season. Jack McBride, a fullback from Syracuse, was the offensive star that season, scoring 56 points on six touchdowns, two field goals and 15 successful extra-point attempts.
Why No. 8?
Although New York had one of its most dominant seasons in 1927, the NFL was still in its infancy, and the Giants were named league champions based solely on their regular season record.
RB Ottis Anderson was the MVP of Super Bowl XXV.
Title claimed: Super Bowl XXV
Regular season record: 13-3
Head coach: Bill Parcells
Despite losing starting quarterback Phil Simms to injury late in the 1990 season, backup Jeff Hostetler was able to lean on a power running game and a staunch defense just enough to replicate the Super Bowl success the Giants had enjoyed four seasons earlier. Thanks to a well-executed game plan and a stroke of good fortune, the Giants were able to avenge one of their three regular season losses, stifling the high-octane Buffalo Bills, 20-19, in Super Bowl XXV.
As was typical in most of their championship seasons, the Giants fielded the league's No. 1 defense in points allowed. The '90 Giants did all the little things right, such as finishing the season with a plus-20 turnover differential. Another example, Ottis Anderson, the team's top rusher and eventual Super Bowl MVP, was unheralded with less than 800 yards on the ground, but punter Sean Landetta was an All-Pro for his 44.1 yards per punt average in 1990.
Why No. 7?
The 1990 Giants weren't much of a spectacle; they rode mistake-free play all the way to a surprising Super Bowl title, notching 13 regular-season wins along the way.
Title claimed: 1938 NFL Championship
Regular season record: 8-2-1
Head coach: Steve Owen
After two seasons in which the Giants uncharacteristically won just half the games they played, New York stormed back for another championship season in 1938. That year, Owen led a star-studded cast to an 8-2-1 record. The Giants became the first team to win multiple league championship games with a 23-17 win over the Green Bay Packers in the 1938 NFL Championship Game. The game was held at the Polo Grounds, New York's home field.
The '38 Giants again featured the league's top defense, as well as a rather balanced offensive attack. Of the 32 players on the Giants' roster that year, 28 of them, quite ridiculously, made the Pro Bowl. Among those selected were Hall of Fame fullback Tuffy Leemans, standout tailback Ed Danowski and right end Jim Lee Howell, a future championship-winning head coach.
Why No. 6?
Despite a roster in which 88 percent of the players were Pro Bowlers, the Giants have had several championship seasons more memorable than the one in 1938.
Title claimed: 1956 NFL Championship
Regular season record: 8-3-1
Head coach: Jim Lee Howell
After Steve Owen's reign as head coach, which lasted nearly a quarter of a century, came to an end in 1953, Jim Lee Howell became the Giants' primary drill sergeant. With the enlisted help of offensive coordinator Vince Lombardi and defensive coordinator Tom Landry, the Giants rose to great heights in 1956, compiling a regular season record of 8-3-1. In the 1956 NFL Championship game, New York embarrassed the Chicago Bears, winners of the Western Division, to the tune of 47-7.
Landry's defense was stellar, as players like defensive tackle Rosey Grier, defensive end Andy Robustelli and safety Emlen Tunnell were able to flourish in his system, each earning All-Pro honors. Lombardi's offense wasn't too shabby either; the Giants were held under 17 points just twice all season. The Pro Bowl backfield of Charlie Conerly, Frank Gifford and Kyle Rote had left tackle Rosey Brown, one of the best linemen in NFL history, to thank for much of their success.
Why No. 5?
The 1956 Giants were the start of dynasty that could have been, but never was.
QB Eli Manning looks downfield during Super Bowl XLVI.
Title claimed: Super Bowl XLVI
Regular season record: 9-7
Head coach: Tom Coughlin
Qualifying for the playoffs as a 9-7 division winner, Eli Manning and the Giants surprised everyone as they caught fire in the playoffs, earning a second league championship in five seasons. For the second time, Tom Coughlin's Giants outplayed Bill Belichick's New England Patriots, throwing yet another wrench into quarterback Tom Brady's plans to become the greatest passer of all time. Super Bowl XLVI was a validation for all those who believed the last Super Bowl clash between these two entities was a fluke.
Without a running game or a solid defense, Manning made do during the regular season. Often, the contests came down to Manning's arm, as he miraculously pulled out seven fourth-quarter comebacks. Down the stretch, Manning was untouchable. With his team finally playing up to par, the Giants strung six straight wins together (four playoff wins, including Super Bowl XLVI) to conclude the season.
Why No. 5?
Although the 2011 Giants miraculously won a Super Bowl after posting a minus-six overall point differential in the regular season, much of the team's success hinged on the performances of just one player.
Title claimed: 1934 NFL Championship
Regular season record: 8-5
Head coach: Steve Owen
Taking over the head-coaching reins in 1931, Steve Owen, who was an All-Pro left tackle during the Giants' championship season in 1927, brought New York its second NFL title in 1934. After a first-place finish in the Eastern Division, the Giants were pinned against the 13-0 Chicago Bears of the Western Division in the 1934 NFL Championship game, famously known as "The Sneakers Game." Thanks to a fourth-quarter effort which yielded 27 points, the Giants were able to overcome the slick surface and their undefeated opponent en route to a 30-13 victory.
The Giants rebounded from back-to-back losses to start the 1934 season due to a slew of legendary men clad in Big Blue. Center Mel Hein, one of the greatest Giants of all time, had the first of his five All-Pro seasons in '34. Along with Hein (7), right end Ray Flaherty (1) and fullback Ken Strong (50) had their jersey numbers retired by the franchise. All three men, along with Owen and jack of all trades Red Badgro, became Hall of Famers.
Why No. 3?
The 1934 season saw the Giants' first victory in an NFL title game, and because of its famous nickname, we still talk about it today almost 80 years later.
WR David Tyree made the catch of the game in Super Bowl XLII.
Title claimed: Super Bowl XLII
Regular season record: 10-6
Head coach: Tom Coughlin
In their fourth season of collaboration, head coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning finally delivered, snatching a Lombardi Trophy from the hands of a seemingly unbeatable New England Patriots team in historic fashion. With a 10-6 regular season record, the '07 Giants battled through three rounds of playoff games before meeting the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, where New York completed its Cinderella story with a 17-14 upset victory.
Manning, in his first season without workhorse running back Tiki Barber, claimed leadership of the Giants' offense in 2007. His early-career growing pains subsided in the playoffs as a reliable cast of youngsters rose to the occasion around him. New York's defense was outstanding as well, holding each of its four playoff opponents to 20 points or less.
Why No. 2?
The 2007 Giants may not have been the most dominant regular-season team, but their unlikely playoff run and unforgettable Super Bowl victory are remembered as one of the greatest underdog stories in NFL history.
Head coach Bill Parcells after Super Bowl XXI.
Title claimed: Super Bowl XXI
Regular season record: 14-2
Head coach: Bill Parcells
After a thirty-year drought without a championship, head coach Bill Parcells guided the Giants back into the spotlight in 1986. The Giants ripped off nine straight wins to conclude the '86 season with 14 regular season victories, the most in franchise history. New York cruised through the playoffs, eventually toppling a John Elway-led Denver Broncos team, 39-20, in Super Bowl XXI. It was the Giants' first ever Super Bowl victory.
Parcells entrusted his defense to coordinator Bill Belichick, who devised a scheme to best utilize the talents of the NFL's most valuable player that season, linebacker Lawrence Taylor. Quarterback Phil Simms, who connected with All-Pro tight end Mark Bavaro 66 times in 1986, was nearly perfect in the Super Bowl, where he earned an MVP honor for his record-setting completion rate of 88 percent.
Why No. 1?
The 1986 Giants reached a pinnacle of excellence and sustained it longer than any other team in franchise history.