The time is upon us. Kickoff is approaching. All season has come to this. It is Super Bowl 46. The rematch, it is being dubbed, between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. New York and Boston at its finest hour. Now obviously the suspense of my pick shouldn’t really be very high but I have to go through my due diligence of at least breaking down the game to put the fear of God in myself. So let’s get right into it making the case with five reasons for why the Giants or the Patriots will win.
Spreads courtesy of sportsbook.com. Home team in CAPS.
Giants +3 over PATRIOTS
Case for the Giants
1. Pass rush
As with Super Bowl 42, the Giants enter this game with one of the most fearsome pass rushes in the game. They have three players (Osi, Tuck, and Pierre-Paul) who on seemingly every other team would be “the guy” that offenses have to double and make a point in their game plan to stop. Each one of them has the potential to simply wreck a game. If you can give the Giants a lead, and cross your fingers a double digit lead, that will allow them to pin their ear backs and head straight after Tom on the fast surface, look out. That is when they will be at their most dangerous.
2. Patriots secondary
To me, this is the biggest aspect of this game. So much talk has been spent asking how the Giants pass rush will have to slow down Tom Brady and his offense. Well, my question is how will the Patriots slow down Eli Manning and his offense? The Giants secondary has gotten better as the season has gone along while the Patriots’ secondary is in shambles. If the Giants stick with a three wide receiver set for most of the game, which I think they will do, that will create major matchup problems across the board. Wide receiver Julian Edelman may be forced to cover my sleeper pick this whole week (and someone who I have seen others tout as well) Mario Manningham. Now this isn’t always something that is discussed in football as much as in baseball, but Mario is a free agent after this season. And since the Giants seem set with Nix and Cruz they won’t be doling out the big bucks for Manningham. If he can put together a big game on the brightest stage he will be in store for a major payday.
Back in their regular season matchup, much like the case against the Packers and 49ers, the Giants were not nearly at full strength in those games. Here they were without running back Ahmad Bradshaw and receiver Hakeem Nicks. Nicks had injured himself the previous week so the Giants may have been struggling to transition to life without him which may have lead to their first half struggles. As this was still just Week 9, the Giants also may not have fully known what they had in Victor Cruz as well. Now the Giants are healthier than they have been all year with all their weapons to exploit that secondary that really hasn’t been tested by this type of offense this postseason.
4. They’re the better and hotter team
Many people are making the case that the Giants should really be the favorite in this game. Now I don’t think so as the Patriots are still a number one seed and 13-3 team; something that shouldn’t be forgotten. But in recent years there is something to be said about a team that has to play their way into the postseason and be able to ride that momentum all the way through. The Packers did this last year and we all know about the Giants run back in 2007. The Patriots are coming off their worst offense performance in a long time and are not at full strength given the status of their biggest weapon Gronkowski. The Giants confidence is at an all time high and that, unlike the theme four years of proving the doubters wrong, has being the driving force this year.
5. Déjà Blue
Finally this run, as I have mentioned many times before, has had so many similarities to four years ago that is almost eerie. They lost 38-35 to an undefeated team in the regular season only to shock them in the postseason. They won in overtime on the road in the NFC Championship game. And now are going to face the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The obvious difference is the fact that the Pats aren’t 18-0 or that the Giants didn’t lose to them in the regular season. So being that the Patriots are almost the team that has something to prove could the Déjà Blue magic be the reverse this time around? Crap, I just started to give myself a panic attack. Just keeping thinking good thoughts…David Tyree…David Tyree…David Tyree.
Case for the Patriots
1. Tom Brady
You have to give him his due. At this point Tom Brady still remains the best and most feared quarterback in the league. He is still the guy that if you asked any third party’s opinion, they would want to lead their team for one game. Now he did have a bad game against the Ravens, but that could be taken a couple ways. First that the Ravens are just a strong defense and that he doesn’t have two bad games in a row. Or that Brady is a bit off right now and he isn’t the same guy that would strike fear in the hearts of his opponents. To me, I’m still very much afraid about what Brady can do because he’s done it to us in back to back games. I don’t know if Giants fans remember this but in the Super Bowl and in the regular season game, facing a deficit, Brady drove the Patriots down the field for go ahead scores. Those would be looked upon much differently had Eli not retaliated but the point should not be forgotten that with the game on the line Brady got the best of the Giants defense.
2. The Terrell Owens effect
A point that Bill Simmons has been stressing this week has really got me nervous. Now this could just be his Boston homerism taking affect but he does bring up a good point. Back in Super Bowl 39 when the Eagles faced the Pats, Terrell Owens entered that game with major questions about his effectiveness after breaking his leg. Because Owens, much like Gronk, is built like a monster, he went out and nearly carried the Eagles to a Super Bowl win. It also hurts to see the comparisons between Gronk’s ankle injury and Schilling’s of 2004 just to bring up some painful memories.
3. The fast paced running attack
Even though the Patriots do have the great Tom Brady the strategy I think you will see from the Pats, at least early on, is kind of similar to what the Giants tried to do in Super Bowl 42: run the ball and control the clock. The secret to stopping a great pass rush? Run the ball. The other secret? Not allow the Giants to substitute. If the Patriots can develop a rhythm with short passing routes and running the ball, they can keep up the no huddle attack which will tire out the Giants who are on the field and also not allow them to bring in their assortment of pass rushers. If things go right, this is the blueprint the Patriots will try on Sunday.
4. “Nobody believes in us”
It’s amazing to think about this for a team that not only won 13 games in the regular season but also one that is favored by three points, but the Patriots sure feel like underdogs heading into this one. Not only are a majority of “experts” picking the Giants, but there are seemingly the same amount thinking the Giants will cruise to victory as there are thinking the Pats will simply win. Now normally this would scare me completely because the Giants never play well when people expect them too. However, unlike 2007, the Giants bandwagon has seemingly doubled each week through this playoff run. I also can’t imagine Belichick giving a speech about how they disproved all the doubters when he’s staring at the best QB in the world so I think I might have just talked myself out of this one.
5. Spirit of Myra Kraft
The topic of a team playing for a loved one that has passed is always a tricky one. There are a number of cases where a team or player has galvanized behind this, see Brett Favre’s remarkable performance after his father’s passing. But then there are cases where the team didn’t respond, see the Packers this year after the passing of their coordinator’s son. This one does have a bit of fairy tale aspect as it happened before the year started rather than the week leading to the game but needless to say if anything crazy happens that leads to a Patriot win you could bet they will all be mentioning Myra in the postgame.
Time for the final prediction. How about this scenario that may go down as the greatest moment in the NFL history? 28-28, game goes to overtime. Patriots drive down and are forced to kick a field goal. Wouldn’t it be fitting that after two postseason overtime games the new overtime rules are broken in during the Super Bowl to leave millions of people confused? Well, the Giants get the ball and on a third and five at their own thirty, Eli throws a pass that gets tipped up in the air but is hauled in by Victor Cruz who takes it 70 yards for a walk off, Super Bowl winning touchdown. Screw it, that sounds so good I have to go with it.
Prediction: Giants 34 – Patriots 31 OT
Last Week: 2-0
Best Bets: 43-37-5
Regular Season: 126-118-12