Before 2007, the rivalry between the Giants and the Patriots lived only in the hearts and minds of Giants fans living in New England like me. Each Sunday, we lived in fear that our game would be preempted by some infomercial, because it was up against a Patriots game. When this happened, we had three options. One, we could not watch the game, which was unacceptable. Two, we could try to listen to it on the radio, which was acceptable but usually impossible. Leaving only the third and most dreaded option, watching the game in a sports bar, on the smallest TV, with no sound, surrounded by screaming Patriots fans.
Related: Hakeem Nicks is Back
In those days, pre-season games held more meaning for Giants fans in New England. Since the Giants and the Patriots only meet in the regular season every four years, fans could look to the more frequent pre-season match-ups for some sort of consolation or bragging rights. Oh, how times have changed.
The Giants and the Patriots both enter Wednesday’s pre-season finale with a 1-2 record, but it’s the Giants who have the bragging rights all tied up, in two neat little packages called Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. The Giants also have a winning streak going. They have won their last 3 games against the Patriots, including an 18-17 victory in the pre-season last year. The Giants also won the last pre-season Super Bowl rematch in 2008.
Unfortunately, for the Patriots and their fans, this rematch won’t provide any opportunity for redemption. First of all, it’s a pre-season game and it doesn’t count. Also, it is highly unlikely that the starters will get much playing time, if any at all.
There is a chance that Hakeem Nicks will play. He has been lobbying to get into the game, having missed the previous three due to injury. If I were Tom Coughlin, I wouldn’t risk it, with Nicks or any of our starters, not with the season opener against Dallas one week away. Also, the Pats could be a little out for blood.
It is possible, although still unlikely, that we will see some of the Patriots starters, in an attempt to silence concerns about the team’s offensive line. Tom Brady was beaten up against the Saints and the Bucs, in the only two pre-season games in which he took snaps. However, I doubt Bill Belichick will risk Brady’s health, even against our second-string pass rush.
Aside from us fans, who derive a bit of pleasure from any chance to beat the Patriots, this game, more importantly, is an opportunity for players on the bubble to prove themselves. Final cuts need to be made by Friday at 9pm. Look out for wide receivers, Dan DePalma, Isaiah Stanback and David Douglas, who could make the team as backups and also have the chance to contribute on special teams. On the other side of the ball, the Giants need to find help in the secondary. Every year, it seems, that no matter how deep we are in this position, it is never enough. Keep your eyes on Michael Coe and Bruce Johnson, as they battle for the opportunity to play in place of the injured Prince Amukamara, who had been starting for the injured Terrell Thomas.
It won’t be Super Bowl caliber football, but it will be the last chance for some of these guys to play in a Giants uniform. It is also the only time we will face the Patriots this season, unless, of course, our paths cross again in New Orleans.