Coach: Tom Coughlin (115-93). He whipped the Giants from an inconsistent mass of talented players into a surprise Super Bowl winner last season and has been masterful at fending off the slings and arrows that always seem to bring down defending champs. A stickler for details and a disciplinarian, he has been just what this group needs. He was the first NFC coach to take a wild-card team to a title.
Best players: QB Eli Manning (3,238 passing yards, 21 TDs); RB Brandon Jacobs (1,089 rush yards, 15 TDs).
Most interesting player: Manning has developed from a high-profile, highly paid, big-market whipping boy into a solid NFL quarterback. He's still the other Manning, but he's a champion, Super Bowl MVP and at age 27 an ever-improving player.
Most likely to generate a non-football headline: Antonio Pierce was questioned by police for his part in an alleged cover-up of teammate Plaxico Burress' self-shooting, so he knows his way around a club and an emergency room.
Will make it to Tampa if: Their league-best rushing attack (157.4 yards per game) continues to churn out yards and rack up points behind Jacobs and Derrick Ward (1,025 yards). New York's 26.7 points per game was second only to New Orleans.
Will watch it from their couch if: The running game is snuffed. Manning had a season every bit as good as 2007, while reducing his interception figure from 20 to 10. But if he becomes the focus, especially with Burress suspended, it will be tough for Manning and Amani Toomer to go it alone. Manning was also sacked a lot for a playoff QB: 27 times. The Giants offensive line is obviously adept at punching holes for the running backs, so maybe it could keep the quarterback off the turf.
Why Tampa Bay will cheer/jeer: The in-person opportunity to castigate Pierce as the figurehead for all that is wrong with the pro athlete lifestyle could be too much to resist.
Our prediction: The safest bet of all to make it to Tampa.