As we head into the second half of the NFL season, it is evident that the New York Giants are motivated to repeat as Super Bowl champions. They've been able to overcome large deficits and key injuries, and seem ready to charge over any obstacle in their path.
The Giants are currently in first place in the NFC East at 6-2 , and it appears that the team will be fighting for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Falcons and Bears are the only NFC teams with better records than the Giants at this point in the season.
Last season, the Giants sneaked into the playoffs after they defeated the Dallas Cowboys in the final game of the season to win the division. The Giants would then go on to defeat the Falcons at home, and then followed that performance with upset victories over both Green Bay and San Francisco on the road. They would then go on to win the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, concluding a postseason that was extremely similar to their championship run back in 2007.
The key to both of the previous Super Bowl runs was great defensive line play and turnover-free football, but those two aspects of the Giants' game seem to be missing at this point of the season. Eli Manning has thrown eight interceptions, and New York has lost three fumbles as a team. These numbers may not seem like a lot, but they can and will be the difference in games come playoff time.
Despite the turnovers, the Giants have had a much better season running the football. Ahmad Bradshaw ranks ninth in the league with 570 rushing yards, and the Giants average over 114 total yards on the ground per game, which is good for 12th in the league.
A consistent ground game will make the Giants extremely tough to stop on offense, especially when Hakeem Nicks and the other receivers return to their top form.
The secondary has also been an issue for the Giants this season, but they have not played as bad as many would suggest. Last week against Dallas, the secondary picked off Tony Romo four times to bring their season total to 16, which is tied for the league lead with the Chicago Bears. The Giants also lead the league in takeaways with 24, and their plus-13 differential is also the best in the league.
If the Giants defense can return to its 2011 playoff form, then there is no question that this team can win Super Bowl XLVII. Their roster is loaded with veterans that have been there before, which gives them an advantage over the rest of their NFC foes.
Do not be surprised if the New York Giants become the first team to repeat as champions since the 2004-2005 New England Patriots.