NEW YORK: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will be aiming to snap a three-game losing streak against their arch nemesis the New York Giants on Sunday as they attempt to extend their 100 percent start to the season.
Brady and the Patriots have played like men possessed so far this year, looking ferociously determined to prove a point after taking on and defeating the National Football League over the “Deflategate” saga.
That sense of steely determination has driven the Patriots to an 8-0 start, fueling talk that Brady and his team-mates could be poised to emulate their perfect regular season record from the 2007 campaign.
On that occasion, the Patriots march towards immortality — going the entire season unbeaten — ended in the Super Bowl, when the Giants scored a famous 17-14 upset win in Arizona with a last-gasp Plaxico Burress touchdown.
Four years later, the Giants would repeat the feat in Super Bowl XLVI, with Eli Manning once more orchestrating a late fourth-quarter drive that resulted in the match-winning touchdown with less than a minute left on the clock.
Toss in a regular season upset defeat at Foxborough in 2011 and its easy to see why the Giants are viewed as the Patriots bogey team.
Yet despite the twin Super Bowl setbacks, Brady insists revenge will not be on the agenda when his team lines up to face the Giants at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Sunday.
“I’d much rather have won them than lost them, but they won’t have any bearing on this week or what the matchups are,” Brady said of his only Super Bowl losses.
“It’s a totally different team and game and situation and so forth, but they just have a great organization. They’ve had a great organization for a long time. It’s a very good team and they’re tough on defense, so we’re going to have to play well.”
The last four meetings between the sides have been decided by four points or less and Brady is expecting a similarly hard-fought encounter on Sunday.
“They’ve always played us pretty tough, so we’re expecting their best,” Brady added.
“We’ve always had very, very close games against them even when we’ve won. We just haven’t won as many of them as I would’ve liked to have won.”
On form, the Patriots will start as clear favorites against a Giants side which lead the NFC East—arguably the weakest division in the NFC— with a modest 5-4 record.
The Giants defense has conceded more yards than other team in the NFL this year and has recorded a mere nine sacks.
Nevertheless the Patriots are wary of the Giants tendency to force turnovers: so far they have forced 21 this year, the league’s best tally, leading to four defensive touchdowns.
Best team in NFL
The Giants meanwhile are under no illusions about the size of the challenge facing them.
“Every game is big, but arguably the best team in the NFL is coming to our stadium and it’s going to be a big game,” said linebacker Jonathan Casillas.
“New England is never not going to be a difficult task …we’re definitely going to have to play lights out football to beat these guys.”
The Patriots are one of three remaining unbeaten teams heading into week 10. The Cincinnati Bengals (8-0) entertain the Houston Texans in the Monday night game while Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers face the Tennessee Titans (2-6) in what should be a routine assignment in Nashville on Sunday.
Elsewhere this weekend the Green Bay Packers (6-2) will aim to get back to winning ways after back-to-back defeats when they host the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field.