1) I’m always interested in seeing how the reigning Super Bowl Champions follow up the next season. It seems logical that a championship team should be strong the next year and at least make the playoffs and contend again. But it usually doesn’t happen. In truth, most Super Bowl teams have a difficult season and struggle to reach the postseason. Several factors are involved, one being the free agency market where winning teams are stripped of talent by other teams. You can’t keep everybody that overperforms so decisions are made on who to keep and who to let go, usually with uncertain results. Secondly, I think winning a Super Bowl creates overconfidence and in the NFL that’s usually deadly. I’m not sure that’s going to happen with the New York Giants this year. I’m sure they remember their average performance up until their winning streak that carried them to the to. If they don’t, Tom Coughlin will remind them.
2) I’m also interested in the rebirth of NFL teams, the intangible process of rebuilding a loser into a winner. In the case of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a 10-game losing streak to end 2011 was ended with a win in their season opener at Kansas City. Josh Freeman should need no motivation to improve on his performance from 2011 and there have been major changes to the roster in 2012. In watching their defensive play last week, it looks like the new regime has a nice blend of experience and youth, and with new offensive weapons and a good running game, the Buccaneers could challenge in the NFC South.
So this Buccaneers vs Giants game offers a little taste of what’s in store for both these teams in 2012. The Giants are at home and coming off of a stinging loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Falling to 0-2 would be the beginning of disaster for the Giants. The other side is that the Buccaneers have to be a little pumped and truthfully, New York looks vulnerable. Not that they couldn’t turn it on later like they’ve done in their last two Super Bowl runs but I’m a little skeptical on that happening again.