The New England Patriots are used to the New York Giants upsetting the odds, but they've got everything stacked against them on Thursday night.
The New York Giants have ended a New England Patriots winning streak once before – the biggest and best streak you can hope for in the NFL – but the chances are slim that they’ll be able to replicate that upset victory when the two teams meet on Thursday Night Football.
There’s a bucket load of shared history between these two teams involving one of the biggest names in the NFL, coach Bill Belichick, and also the biggest game in the sport – the season-ending Super Bowl.
The Giants have, in fact, beaten Tom Brady’s Patriots twice in the Super Bowl, with their first success in February 2008 being a stand-out moment as it denied the Pats what would have been a perfect season. The follow-up win in 2012 merely denied Brady and Belichick yet another Super Bowl ring.
Not that they’re short, as Brady has won a record six of them while Belichick has eight to his name, with six as head coach of the Patriots coming after winning two as defensive coordinator with the Giants.
New York Giants @ New England Patriots
Match odds: Giants 13/2 | Patriots 1/10
Sky Bet Price Boost: Tom Brady 300+ passing yards & three TDs 7/2
Touchdown Tip: Rex Burkhead anytime at 100/30
12 years spent in New York were seen as the building blocks for the dynasty Belichick has gone on to build during near two decades in New England. He still holds the Giants in high regard and when the two teams meet some Giants fans can’t help but wonder what could have been.
"He could have been doing, in New York, what he's done in New England for the past 20 years. Don't think every Giant fan in the world that's of the right age doesn't understand what they missed," says former Giants player Mark Bavaro.
But enough of the history lesson, back to the present day and, as always, the Patriots are setting the standard once again in the NFL as one of one two unbeaten teams and a league-leading 5-0 record.
The Patriots always come up with different ways of winning and this season it’s with a water-tight defence that’s yielded just 34 points in five outings as the most dominant defensive unit in the league.
No more Manning for Giants
And on Thursday, Belichick and his defence will not be facing Eli Manning – the quarterback nemesis who led two late drives to pinch those two Super Bowls. Without Manning’s intervention Brady would be running out of fingers for his Super Bowl rings – and Belichick, the hardest man around to impress, doesn’t hide his respect for the younger Manning brother.
"I wish he'd done a little bit less in a couple games against us, but I have a lot of respect for Eli,” said Belichik.
"He's had a great career and certainly had great games against us. I have a ton of respect for Eli and all that he's done.”
Instead of Manning, rookie quarterback Daniel Jones will be in the crosshairs of Belichick’s defence – and that’s a place young quarterbacks do not usually thrive. He’s an evil genius of the defensive mind – a point illustrated by 18 straight wins against quarterbacks in their first two years in the league.
That means 42-year-old Brady will face an opposition quarterback in Jones how's 20 years his junior - Jones, the sixth overall pick of this year's draft, was just a four-year-old when Brady was winning his first Super Bowl in February 2002.
For this game, the Giants are also without superstar do-everything running back Saquon Barkley for the trip to Gillette Stadium, while their top receiver in tight end Even Engram is struggling with injury – not news you need going up against the league’s top passing defence.
The Patriots in fact still haven’t allowed a passing touchdown this season, and given the testing conditions forecast for Thursday night in the Boston area then you certainly want a running game that’s effective.
New England don’t have hefty numbers on the rushing front but they have options, have six running scores so far, just two behind the league leaders, and also have Brady’s short passing options to dissect an opposition even in tough throwing conditions.
Brady, according to some, is starting to look his 42 years of age but he’s thrown 10 TDs this season, Russell Wilson leads the league with 12, and is seventh in passing yards. Most crucially though, and all he’s looking it, is that the team in 5-0 this season, and should be 6-0 come Friday morning.
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