The New England Patriots are no strangers to perfection or long win streaks. They enter this weekend having won 11 straight games including the playoffs, their third such double-digit streak in the last decade. They've also reached the season's midpoint without a loss for the second time in franchise history. In 2007, they won their first eight games ... and then kept on winning, completing the only 16-0 regular season in NFL history.
The New York Giants are no strangers to ruining perfection or snapping long win streaks, either. They were the only team to eventually beat New England back in 2007, upsetting the heavily favored Patriots, 17-14, in the Super Bowl. Four years later, they faced off again in the Super Bowl and this time the Patriots entered the big game riding a 10-game win streak, which the Giants ended again thanks to another miraculous win.
The Patriots won't be the lone team on the field Sunday that will be looking for revenge, however. The only other trip Tom Brady has made to East Rutherford came in Week 17 of 2007, when the Patriots rallied for a 38-35 win to clinch their perfect regular season. There is little doubt that the Giants are motivated to keep New England from making history again in 2015.
While it's premature to say that the Giants are the Patriots' kryptonite, they are the rare team that has been able to stop the Bill Belichick/Brady juggernaut. The Giants have won their last three matchups against the Pats -- those two Super Bowl wins sandwiched around a regular season victory in 2011 -- and are 3-2 overall against Brady.
However, this is 2015, not 2007 or 2011. These Patriots may not be as dominant as the version from eight years ago, but they've looked borderline unstoppable at times this season and, most importantly, this year's Giants team bears little resemblance to those earlier Big Blue squads.
One of the reasons that the Giants had so much success against the Patriots in the past is that they featured an aggressive four-man pass rush, allowing them pressure Brady without blitzing while dropping seven guys into coverage. The Giants ranked first and third in the NFL in sacks in 2007 and 2011, respectively, and in their last three matchups against New England (in 2007 and 2011) the Giants have sacked Brady nine times and recorded three interceptions.
This season, however, the Giants have struggled to get to the quarterback and their pass defense is one of the NFL's worst. They've recorded a league-low nine sacks in nine games and rank last in Football Outsiders' adjusted sack rate (2.7 percent), which accounts for down, distance and opponent. While the return of Jason Pierre-Paul should help those numbers, the reality is that their current defensive line doesn't compare to the fearsome, talented units of past Giants teams.
Thanks to an MVP-caliber performance by Brady this season -- he ranks first in passer rating and passing touchdowns -- the Patriots boast the league's highest-scoring offense and one that is in the midst of a historic run of consistency. They've put points on the board in every quarter except the first quarter of the first game, a streak of 31 straight quarters that is tied with the 1999-00 St. Louis Rams and 2005 Indianapolis Colts for the longest in NFL history.
Although the Giants are tied for the league lead in interceptions (13) this season, that also masks the fact that they've given up the second-most passing yards per game and also rank near the bottom of the NFL in yards per attempt (23rd) and completion percentage (27th) allowed. Those numbers don't portend well for the Giants having any chance of slowing down Brady and the Patriots' high-powered, versatile offense on Sunday.
How to Watch
When: 4:25 p.m. ET
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson
Online: NFL Game Pass
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