The euphoria of the New York Giants' 2012 Super Bowl championship has barely begun to fade. The team and its fans have barely had time to bask in the glow of the franchise's fourth Super Bowl title. Yet, even before Tuesday's victory parade down the Canyon of Heroes and pep rally at MetLife Stadium the talk about next season had already surfaced.
Could the Super Bowl champion Giants do it again next season? Could they do what it looked like they had a chance to do in 2008, when they started fast and were unable to finish? Could they win back-to-back Super Bowl titles?
The Las Vegas oddsmakers certainly don't think so. The Giants are 15-1 to win the 2013 Super Bowl. The New York Jets are only 16-1. The Green Bay Packers are 6-1 choices, the just-vanquished New England Patriots are 7-1. Among other notable choices, the Philadelphia Eagles are 12-1.
Did you really expect anything different? I certainly didn't. Does any of that matter? Not in the least.
Steve Wyche of NFL.com wrote earlier this week about the Giants' chances for a repeat.
Despite the Giants' fairly consistent run over the past few years, a quarterback in Eli Manning who is in his prime and a nice crew of wideouts, Philadelphia or Dallas probably will be the trendy pick to win the NFC East.
New York isn't viewed like the Packers, who, like the Giants, had to scratch and claw their way into the playoffs before winning the Super Bowl last February. Green Bay is a team in its prime that has the quarterback and other elements to fend off improving NFC North competition and all comers from around the league. The Giants, well, they were a team that got hot at the right time. At least that's what you'll hear. New York won't be treated the same as Green Bay, even though their respective quests to a title, personnel and head coaches are similar in terms of results, age and production.
Should they be viewed the same? ...
The Giants better just enjoy things now. They are the deserving champions. No doubt about it. And by the time training camp comes around in the summer, they'll be able to rekindle the "us against the world" mentality that rallied them to this Super Bowl title, because that will be the case again.
All true. And again it probably doesn't matter at all.
Mathias Kiwanuka already voiced what will likely be the opinion of most of the veteran Giants. That being, of course they can win it again.
"If we won it this year, there's no doubt in my mind that we can. We've just got to get in the playoffs. That's it.
"The big thing for us is to get one next year," Kiwanuka said. "We had a great season a couple years ago, and we had a letdown the year after. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again."
Can the Giants win again? Sure they can. Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin will be back. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks will be back. The defense is loaded with talent and could be bolstered by the return of Terrell Thomas next season and the expected improvement of Prince Amukamara with a full off-season to come.
There are lots of reasons to be optimistic about the Giants next season, and for years to come.
Should they be expected to win it again? Of course not.
The Giants are now defending Super Bowl champions. Are they a dominant team? Hardly. That 9-7 record wasn't a mirage. They rescued a season going backwards just in time, got hot and played their best football when it mattered the most.
We know, of course, that from the point in the season where the Giants had lost five of six to sink to 7-7 that they won six straight games to become champions. At times, they were dominant doing it. In the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl, though, Lady Luck also smiled upon them.
Without two special teams mistakes by San Francisco punt returner Kyle Williams the Giants don't get to the Super Bowl.
Without an uncharacteristic drop by New England's Wes Welker the Giants probably don't win. They also recovered two of their own fumbles and had a third negated by penality. Lose any of those, they probably lose the game.
So, you have to be lucky as well as good. The ball has to bounce your way, and you have to get some breaks. The Giants got them this time around, and that isn't going to be the case every season.
What is comforting for Giants fans is that you know your team will have a chance. It has a chance every year. There are talented players who know what it takes to win, there is a two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback and a top-notch coach, there is an excellent front office.
The Giants will be good. That's really all you can ask for.