It's Super Bowl week in New York!
Oh, that's not for another seven weeks?
It's easy to get confused considering the Seahawks -- the NFC favorites -- are going to Gotham this week to play in the stadium where the Super Bowl will be played on Feb. 2. And they will be playing the New York Giants, who have won two of the past six Super Bowls. And the referee will be Bill Leavy, who was the infamous ref in Seattle's controversial Super Bowl XL.
That gives this game quite the Super theme, especially when you recall that the Seahawks came to New York and beat the Giants during their 2011 Super Bowl season.
The teams have gone in quite different directions since then. Basically, the Seahawks are going where the Giants have been, but the Hawks also want to avoid ending up where the Giants are now.
The Giants have won two Super Bowls since 2007, beating the New England Patriots in both, but they also are going to miss the playoffs for the fourth time in that seven-year span. Basically, they've been boom or bust, getting hot at the right time twice.
In 2007, they became the second wild-card team to win three straight road games and the Super Bowl (the other was the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers, who beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl). They knocked off an undefeated Patriots team to win the title.
In 2011, the Giants won a weak NFC East at 9-7 and had to win two more road games to get back to the Super Bowl, where they once again edged the Patriots.
In both cases, the Giants caught lightning in a bottle.
“In our business … there is tremendous equity and anyone is capable of beating the other team on any given weekend," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "A team that gets on a roll at the end of the year has the capability of winning out and winning the Super Bowl."
But then what? There hasn't been a repeat Super Bowl champ since the Patriots in 2003-04.
"It’s been difficult for teams to come back and respond and play well the next year, and there (are) issues all over," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "The hype and the buildup, getting patted on the back and all of that stuff is one issue, but there’s also an attrition that always happens, too."
He pointed to the Baltimore Ravens, who beat San Francisco in the Super Bowl last season but have struggled to a 7-6 record this season.
"The Ravens had big attrition," Carroll said, referring to the loss of five defensive starters from the championship team. "So that changes your football team. That explains that to some degree.
"It’s very difficult to play at that high of a level and then come back and do it again and continue the sense that it takes and the urgency and all of the factors that make you a championship team. It’s hard to do it again."
Coughlin and Carroll both pointed to the fact that the NFL (which is sometimes derisively called Not For Long) is built for parity.
"Our league was established to create equity, and it has certainly done that," Coughlin said. "You know with free agency and cap room and solid drafting a team can move forward in a relatively short amount of time. There is a lot of equity in our league from year to year, and sometimes the teams that can get hot at the right time end up being the champion.”
Coughlin knows from the experience of his team, which has gotten hot enough to win the Super Bowl twice but has made the playoffs in just half of his 10 seasons. (The Giants missed the playoffs despite a 10-6 record in 2010, the year the Eagles aced them out in the NFC East and the Hawks made it as NFC West winners with a 7-9 record.)
Carroll reminded everyone that a few teams have managed to stay on top for long stretches. Since 2000 (13 seasons), eight franchises have won the Super Bowl. Baltimore, Pittsburgh and the Giants have doubled up and the Patriots have tripled up. Winners such as Green Bay, New Orleans and Indianapolis have had sustained success as well.
"It’s kind of designed for everybody to have a fair shot so nobody can just hold all of the cards, but interestingly it isn’t like that," Carroll said. "The teams that are up kind of stay up over the long haul."
Bill Belichick, who replaced Carroll in New England in 2000, has not had a losing season since that first year -- a run that Carroll said "makes them pretty special.”
Of course, the Patriots also have lost to the Giants the last two times they reached the Super Bowl. But, hey, at least they have gotten there.
"It’s been hard for some teams to ever get to the championship game," Carroll said. "We’ve been there once in the (37-year) history of the franchise."
The Hawks plan to make it back this season and, like the Patriots, give themselves a chance to contend every year as one of those "pretty special" franchises.
As they head to New York for Super Bowl Week Part I, the Seahawks want to go where the Giants have been, but they want to avoid ending up where the Giants are now.