Let's compare their performance over the entire regular season versus their last five games. I'm wondering if their last five games represents their true level or if they're just playing way above their heads. (RS=regular season; LF=last five) PPG - RS: 24.6 - LF: 28.2 YPG - RS: 385.0 - LF: 396.6 PPGA - RS: 25.0 - LF: 13.4 YPGA - RS: 376.4 - LF: 318.8 Turnovers - RS: +7 (0.44/g) - LF: +9 (1.80/g) Scoring Margin - RS: -0.4/g - LF: +14.8/g So here's how much better the Giants are playing over their last five than they did the entire regular season (which includes the first two games in their "last five" hot streak): Each number is compared to their regular season number *per game*: Scoring Margin: +15.2 Points Scored: +3.6 Points Allowed: +11.6 (they've given up 11.6 fewer points per game) Yards gained: +11.6 Yards allowed: +57.6 (they've given up 57.6 fewer yards per game) Yardage Margin: +69.2 Turnover Margin: +1.36 Now I ask you: is this team really that much better than their regular season team? Is there an example of a team playing so mediocre in the regular season and so dominant in the postseason? Even the 2007 Giants didn't have such a disparity. Here were their numbers in 2007 - same thing: regular season and then their last 5 prior to the Super Bowl: PPG - RS: 23.3 - LF: 28.2 YPG - RS: 331.4 - LF: 316.6 PPGA - RS: 21.9 - LF: 22.0 YPGA - RS: 305.0 - LF: 301.0 Turnovers - RS: +9 (0.56/g) - LF: +4 (0.80/g) Scoring Margin - RS: +1.4/g - LF: +6.2/g So they improved during their last 5 games prior to the Super Bowl, and they played great against the Patriots, but even their game against the Patriots was way better than what they had done their previous five games, so that was the stunner of all stunners, really. CHFF says it was the biggest true upset in SB history, and they're probably right. Here is their 2011 team compared with their 2007 team. 2011 team numbers are first, with 2007 team numbers following: Scoring Margin: +15.2; +4.8 Points Scored: +3.6; +4.9 Points Allowed: +11.6; -0.1 Yards gained: +11.6; +14.8 Yards allowed: +57.6; +4.0 Yardage Margin: +69.2; +18.8 Turnover Margin: +1.36; +0.24 So the 2007 playoff team was essentially not a whole lot different from their regular season team. Improved, for sure, which is to be expected, since they were on a pretty nice run to end the year. But it wasn't an insane difference. But this Giants team is playing SO far above their season numbers it really makes you wonder. Is this their true level? If it is, what is the difference between them now and them during the regular season? I see two keys: (1) Their defensive line is fully healthy. Umenyiora missed 7 games during the season, specifically their first 3 and then games 12-15. He returned for their 16th game and has been healthy and playing well since then (5.5 sacks over his last 5 games). Other guys were playing a bit banged up, but Umenyiora is the key. Here are the games played for their D-line: Umenyiora: 9 (already went over his situation) Tuck: 12 (missed games 1, 4, 5, 6) Pierre-Paul: 16 Canty: 16 Joseph: 16 Bernard: 16 Tollefson: 16 Really, the only DL that they can say is now healthy and making a difference is Umenyiora, who, admittedly, has been tremendous since returning in week 17. Guy is a great, great player when healthy, which is now is. But it is a bit of a myth that the Giants were all beat up all year long. Other than Umenyiora, the other key defensive guys that have missed a lot of games are: Blackburn: 5 games played (missed games 1-11) Amukamara: 7 games played (missed games 1-9) That's it. So really, is Umenyiora *that* much of a difference-maker? Remember, we're talking about a HUGE improvement by the Giants across the board in their last five games. Can Osi's presence be responsible for that? (2) Turnovers. This, really, is the biggest thing. Look at their turnover margin. They are nearly +2 per game during their hot streak. Turnover differential is the single most important factor in winning games (which makes it so amazing that the Pats won despite being -2 in the turnover department last week). The Giants are making big plays...they did it to NE during the regular season too (where they were +2 that day too). The problem is that the Pats - especially Brady - have been turnover prone during the playoffs in recent years (I've detailed this in other posts). So a team that's getting a lot of turnovers vs. a team that's been turning it over a lot in the postseason probably is not an ideal matchup for us. But consider this: the Giants were +2 in turnovers vs. the Pats during the regular season and needed a last-second score to win. The Ravens were +2 in turnovers vs. the Pats in the playoffs and lost. The Broncos were +1 in turnovers vs. the Pats in the playoffs and lost by 35. The Giants were +2 in turnovers to SF and needed every one of them to win by 3 in overtime. In other words, the Patriots have survived some games where they have been in the negative in terms of turnover margin. I think they can survive being -1 in the Super Bowl, but not -2 or more. Here's my conclusion: the Giants are playing WAY over their heads lately. There is no way this team is as good as their recent streak indicates, or else they'd be an historically great team. They are good, but they're so far outperforming their regular season stats with really not a lot of changes to their team (basically Umenyiora) that it seems unlikely that they'll keep that up in the Super Bowl. The key is turnovers. If the Pats can stay even in the turnover battle, they stand a very good chance of winning.