The New York Giants put their fingerprints all over the Vince Lombardi Trophy Sunday night while the rest of the league watched jealously.
It’s a copycat league and every other team should, and will, now measure itself against the Super Bowl champions as they plan to juggle their rosters to try to make their own run for the title in 2012.
How do the teams of the AFC South stack up?
Clearly the Texans have the most talent in the division. They are equipped to play the type of game the Giants played to beat the Patriots. But their depth at receiver hardly compares to what New York rolled out. If Andre Johnson is their Hakeem Nicks, who’s their Mario Manningham? A healthy Matt Schaub has gotten better at minimizing the big mistakes, but in high-pressure situations he still has to prove he can play the sort of clutch, mistake-free football we just saw from Eli Manning.
A rebuild is underway, and the Colts can certainly dream and anticipate that after they spend the No. 1 pick on Andrew Luck, the quarterback will grow into a guy who can control a game the way Manning controlled the Super Bowl. Do they have the running backs who can combine to contribute the way Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs did? Probably not. And even if they retain their star pass-rusher, they need to be far deeper along the defensive front.
The Jaguars are a long, long way off from the Giants. They are trying to develop Blaine Gabbert into a winning quarterback, but what he showed in his rookie year showed him to be worlds apart from a poised, clutch Manning. The current roster of Jacksonville receivers and targets is also in no way comparable to their counterparts on the newly crowned champions. The defense is much better, but lacks a Justin Tuck type of presence up front.
Maybe Matt Hasselbeck could have a day like Manning did and maybe his weapons could produces the way Manning’s did. We don’t yet know if Jake Locker could. But the 2011 Titans rarely operated with the sort of precision and swagger we saw from the Giants' offense on Sunday. The run game has a power element Tennessee lacks. And the Titans' pass rush couldn’t put the sort of heat on Tom Brady the Giants did.