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Let's rumble: Matching '85-86 Giants vs. the '07-08 teams

Bill Parcells and Tom Coughlin have both enjoyed the ultimate success as head coach of our New York Giants. Now, which one actually had the best teams?

If you think about the history of the modern New York Giants, the best two-year periods by Giants' squads have been Bill Parcells' 1985 and 1986 teams, and Tom Coughlin's 2007 and 2008 teams.

For a while now, I have wanted to pit the squads from those two eras against each other and see which era -- and which team -- was ultimately the best. Now, with the help of the wizards at WhatIfSports, I have been able to pull it off.

The gurus at WhatIfSports matched Parcells '85 and '86 teams against TC's '07 and '08 squads in a series of computer simulations. Each game was run 10,000 times, and the results are sure to stir up some debate.

These simulations are run without weather conditions or home-field advantage figured in. There is also the Plaxico Burress factor. WhatIfSports used the "most common depth chart," for each team. That's a fancy way of saying the simulations include Plax as part of the 2008 team.

Anyway, here are WhatIfSports' findings.

2008 defeats 1986 67.6% of the time by an average score of 22.2 to 17.3
2008 defeats 1985 56.4% of the time by an average score of 21.5 to 19.4
1986 defeats 2007 53.1% of the time by an average score of 19.3 to 19.1
1985 defeats 2007 62.8% of the time by an average score of 19.0 to 16.1
2008 wins 62.0% of the time
2007 wins 42.1% of the time
1986 wins 42.8% of the time
1985 wins 53.2% of the time
2008/2007 combine to win 52.1%
1986/85 combine to win 47.9%

My first reaction is to be really, really ticked off at Burress. Again. When I thought I had moved on. I had kind of suspected this, but this data confirms what I thought. Of all of the teams we are looking at, the 2008 Giants -- when they were whole -- were by far the best team of this group. A 62 percent winning percentage is pretty convincing.

So, that confirms what we already pretty much know. The 2008 season was a waste of a truly historic opportunity for the Giants.

Another really interesting finding is that the 1985 team, which lost to the Bears in the NFC playoffs (the famous Sean Landeta whiffed punt game) had the second-highest winning percentage (53.2%). So, the head-to-head comparisons tell you the Super Bowl championship teams were actually not as good as the two teams that fell short. Pretty amazing!

The other finding here is that the recent vintage teams, '07 & '08 -- fared slightly better overall. Coughlin's group beat Parcells' teams 52.1 percent of the time.

This research is, of course, not definitive. And it does not go through and do a player-by-player comparison of the teams. It would appear, though, that the Giants of Coughlin, Eli, Justin, Brandon and AP have a slight advantage over the best teams of Bill, Phil. LT and Harry.

Your thoughts? I'm sure you have plenty on this topic.

Historical Background


  • 1985 -- Giants went 10-6. Lost to Chicago, 21-0, in the NFC playoffs.
  • 1986 -- Super Bowl champions, defeating Denver, 39-20. Overall record of 17-2.
  • 2007 -- Super Bowl champions, defeating New England, 17-4. Overall record of 14-6.
  • 2008 -- Giants went 12-4 in the regular season. Lost to Philadelphi in the NFC playoffs.