|The last time the Giants and Pats met in a meaningful game this happened. (Getty Images)|
Posted by Ryan Wilson
On Sunday, the Giants and Patriots will meet for the first time since Super Bowl XLII which, at the time, was known as New England's coronation to perfection. Instead, thanks in part to David Tyree's head and Plaxico Burress' hands, the upstart Giants upended the Pats.
In the 46 months since, neither team has won a postseason game. When they take the field Sunday, however, both will be atop (or tied atop) their respective divisions.
After watching the Steelers summarily dismantle the Patriots' secondary last week, the Giants might have similar plans. Except now they'll have to do it without two of their best offensive players. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks have been ruled out.
That still leaves Eli Manning with plenty of weapons, perhaps the most inviting being New England's secondary. The Giants have the NFL's fifth-best offense, according to Football Outsiders' efficiency metrics and the Pats are the 27th-ranked defense.
The biggest matchup might come on the other side of the ball: New York's D vs. Tom Brady. Former Pats defensive coordinator and Jets head coach Eric Mangini, now an NFL analyst, spoke this week about whether New York can replicate what Pittsburgh did to slow Brady and New England's passing game.
"On defense [The Steelers] did a real good job in passing situations in getting Tom off his spot, and not letting him be comfortable right behind center where he likes to stand," Mangini told the New York Daily News Thursday.
"The Giants have a unique situation where they can generate a pass rush with their down guys and do it really well, and that's going to help. But that pressure has to come up the middle. And the other thing is: If you don't have tight coverage on the receivers, he'll just hit those guys short."
Not quite a ringing endorsement but New York has beaten New England under tougher conditions and facing longer odds (see, for example, 62 Y Sail Union).
UPDATE - 11/6/11:
In other Giants personnel news, center David Bass has also been ruled out, while defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul will play, according to CBS' Charley Casserly, who also reports that 2010 first-round pick CB Prince Amukamara will be out. Wideout Ramses Barden has been activated to the 53-man roster and could be used in three-wide receiver sets.
After a disappointing loss last week over the Steelers, the New England Patriots hope to rebound as they prepare to host the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. Join Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan as they break down this game.
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