Then and Now: Super Bowl Comparison (Part 1)

Victor Cruz (US PRESSWIRE)

When looking at the two teams playing in Super Bowl XLVI, it's easy to draw comparisons to 2007 and think the Giants will win easily again. But when you look at the stats, they tend to tell a different story.

Then and Now: The 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl Teams

A legitimate story behind the 2011 New York Giants & New England Patriots is how similar they are to their 2007 counterparts.  In 2007, the Giants got hot in the playoffs and won the Super Bowl by defeating the Patriots, the only team ever reach the big 18-0.  As these two teams square off in a Super Bowl rematch, it's easy to ask "How similar the present day teams are to the 2007 teams?"  Let's take a look and see what the statistics tell us.

To give a baseline comparison, here are the NFL averages for some of the key stats discussed in the article:  

2007: Avg. points per game (PPG)  21.7.  Avg. yards per game 325.2.
2011: Avg. PPG was 22.2. Average yards per game was 346.8.  
(Source: http://www.pro-football-reference.com).  

The New York Giants: Then and Now

Taking a look at the 2007 regular season and analyzing only those games the Giants played versus teams .500 or better, a person who picked the Giants to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the playoffs would have either been a genius or experiencing blind fandom.  The truth is the 2007 Giants were much worse versus "winning" teams than the 2011 team.  Their 2007 record was 3-6 and they had a -10 turnover margin!  Compare that to 2011, when they went 6-4 and had a +6 turnover margin.  In 2007, they scored 20.7 PPG and allowed 27.2, versus 2011's 27.7 PPG and 24.9 points allowed.  The Giants' had far more net yardage (392) and allowed more yards (398) per game now than they did in 2007 (304 and 319, respectively).  Finally, today's Giants have a far better red zone (60%), but a lower third down (40.6%) conversion rates than the past Giants of 2007, who had 50% red zone and 42.9% third down conversion rates.

Defensively, the 2007 Giants had 28 sacks, recovered 14 fumbles, and had 20 interceptions for the regular season while the 2011 Giants had 28 sacks, recovered eight fumbles, and had 16 interceptions.  The 2007 Giants were 25th in the NFL for takeaways at -9, and the 2011 Giants were tied for 7th at +7, a remarkable difference.  The Giants biggest playmakers on defense were Osi Umenyiora (13.0 sacks), Justin Tuck (10.0 sacks), and Gibril Wilson and Sam Madison had 4 interceptions each. In 2011, the Giants' defense was led by Jason Pierre-Paul (16.5 sacks), Umenyiora (9 sacks), and Aaron Ross (4 interceptions).

Eli.Manning
Manning vs Patriots (USPresswire)
When taking the information as a whole, it's easy to say, "Hey, the 2011 Giants surely must be a better team than they were in 2007," and this may be true.  Before any conclusions are drawn, let's look at the offensive output of the playmaking positions.  One key factor going into this Super Bowl is Eli Manning has four more seasons of experience under his belt and his numbers bear it out.  In 2007, Manning threw for 3,336 yards, 23 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, had a 56.1% completion rate and ended the season with a 73.9 passer rating.  Fast forward to 2011 Manning, he threw for 4,933 yards, 29 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, had a 61.0% completion rate and ended the season with a 92.9 passer rating.  

Manning's top four receivers in each year accounted for about 75% of his total yardage and in both years, the receivers yards after the catch (YAC) accounted for about a third of their yardage.  During the 2007 run, Manning's primary target was Plaxico Burress, who had 70 receptions for 1,025 yards and 12 touchdowns.  Amani Toomer (59 receptions for 760 yards) and Jeremy Shockey (57 receptions for 619 yards) were Manning's only other significant targets and they scored three touchdowns each.  

Fast forwarding to 2011, the Giants receiving corps has been upgraded dramatically, both in terms of talent and Manning's play.  Victor Cruz had a breakout season with 82 receptions for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns, while Hakeem Nicks had 76 receptions for 1,192 yards and seven touchdowns.  Jake Ballard (38 receptions for 604 yards) and Mario Manningham (39 receptions for 523 yards) rounded off the primary targets in the Giants passing attack and had four touchdowns each.

While Giants' fans might be feeling good reading this, the 2011 rushing attack declined sharply in contrast to the 2007 one.  The 2007 rushing attack produced 2,148 yards, at a clip of 4.6 yards per carry (YPC).  In 2011, the Giants only rushed for 1,427 yards and only 3.5 YPC!  This drop off is significant and could be a huge difference maker in this match up on Super Bowl Sunday.  Additionally, Brandon Jacobs (1,009 yards) was the main running back in 2007 with Ahmad Bradshaw (190 yards) having a minor role; now Jacobs and Bradshaw share the load.  However, thanks to Manning's emergence as an elite quarterback this year, the Giants will not have to rely on the ground game as much to move the ball and score points.

Look for Part 2 where Shane talks about the Patriots then and now.

Shane In Los Angeles appeared on Sirius NFL Radio to discuss the Patriots and Giants breakdown on a statistical level.  In addition to blogging for the site Sports-kings.com  you can follow him on Twitter. he goes by the twitter handle (@Shaner021).

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