After attending the Giants/Falcons playoff game, my 13 year-old brother Justin called me and said “the Giants were dominant. Their defense was amazing.” I replied that it looked a lot like the 2007-2008 season. Little did I know that the Super Bowl was going to look exactly like Super Bowl XLII.
Tom Brady has his Patriots back in the Super Bowl behind an incredible season from him and his offense. The Giants ride into Indianapolis with one of the hottest defenses in recent memory. The Giants have only given up 39 points in this postseason. Before we delve into the big game, let us back track as to how these teams got here.
The Patriots went into a Week 10 matchup against the Jets as an underdog in the eyes of the media. The game was supposed to be “a changing of the guard.” The Pats were down on their talent, they lacked any defense whatsoever. The Jets were on a three game winning streak and ran their mouths as always. The Pats were on a two game losing streak, and were 3-3 in their last six games. They had not looked this bad since Al Gore ran one of the worst campaigns in the history of the United States. It was supposed to be the downfall of the evil empire of football.
Instead Brady threw for 329 yards, Andre Carter had 4.5 sacks and the Patriots dismantled the Jets in their own stadium. They have not lost since.
The Giants went into the season having one of the hardest schedules in the league. Following a home loss to the undefeated Packers by a score of 38-35 (sound familiar?) the Giants had a 6-6 record. Tom Coughlin was presumed fired in the eyes of the media. Kevin Gilbride and Perry Fewell were sure to follow suit. Their only hope to make the postseason was to sweep the Cowboys and win at least three of their last four.
Behind superb play from Eli Manning and resurgence in their running game, the Giants accomplished this task and made the postseason. Then their defense stepped up. The “NASCAR package” of Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, and Mathias Kiwanuka, along with the help of Chris Canty, Dave Tollefson and Linval Joseph has disrupted offenses the entire postseason. And once again, Lawrence Tynes kicked a game winning field goal in overtime of the NFC Championship game to send his Giants back to the Super Bowl.
Now onto the rematch of what was one of the best Super Bowls of all time. The Patriots will come into this game as prepared as ever, and with a chip on their shoulder. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are not only one Super Bowl away from their fourth as a unit, but one ring away from most likely becoming the best quarterback and head coach of all time. The Giants would love nothing more than to spoil this attempt, once again. So without further ado, here is my preview of Super Bowl XLVI.
QUARTERBACKS- I heard one of the most ridiculous statements in my almost 20 years of existence the other day. On the radio driving back to Quinnipiac for my second semester of my sophomore year I heard a caller on the Giants pregame show before their game against the 49ers say, “I would rather have Eli right now than Brady.”
First off, let me remind all Giants fans that before the start of the 2007 season, the majority of you did not want this man on your roster. Now he is better than Brady? I know Eli has played great and is easily one of the best fourth quarter quarterbacks in the game today, and if the caller had said Eli has played better of late I might have been okay with that statement. However he did not, and proceeded to try to defend his statement.
Let’s be real, is he really better than someone who has three Super Bowl rings? Is he better than someone who, for his career, throws an interception once every 47 attempts? Tom Brady is a magician with the football and still is the better quarterback.
RUNNING BACKS- Despite the fact the Giants were last in the league in yards per game for most of the season, they have not abandoned the run and it has paid off. The Giants have run the ball much better of late behind their premier back Ahmad Bradshaw, and a rejuvenated (statistically speaking) Brandon Jacobs.
BenJarvis Green-Ellis might have had a nice game last outing, but the Giants running game is better all around.
WIDE RECEIVERS- Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz are studs. Mario Manningham is the third wide receiver on this depth chart, but plays like anything but it. The Patriots have Wes Welker, a phenomenal receiver, and not much else. The Giants have the playmakers at wide receiver and the Pats do not.
However, do not count out the Pats receiving core. Deion Branch will make a difference come two Sundays from now and I expect Chad Ochocinco to be in the mix of the gameplan. The Giants receivers are still better, but don’t be surprised if the big play is made by a Pats receiver.
TIGHT ENDS- Gronkowski and Hernandez, the end.
OFFENSIVE LINE- For close to 12 weeks of the season, the Giants offensive line did not look good. They struggled to protect Eli Manning and could not open up any running lanes. Then in Week 14 against the Cowboys, as if a metaphorical switch was turned on, the Giants offensive line finally meshed against Rob Ryan’s defense. They played very well up until last week when the Niners sacked Eli Manning six times.
The Patriots offensive line has been a surprise this year. They have for the majority of the season protected Tom Brady very well. Nate Solder looks like he will be a beast at either tackle position for years to come, and Pro Bowlers Brian Waters and Logan Mankins played very solid seasons. I think the Giants offensive line is probably more talented, but the Pats offensive line as a unit has been much more consistent.
DEFENSIVE LINE- It would be just as disrespectful to the Giants defensive line as it would have been to the Patriots tight ends to give this more than two seconds of thought.
LINEBACKERS- If I could skip this section, believe me I would. The Patriots have rotated in multiple linebackers all season, but the core of Mayo, Ninkovich and Spikes is what they generally use. Jerrod Mayo since his injury has looked lost on the field and Brandon Spikes has been spotty all season.
The Giants have struggled to find anyone to play consistently at linebacker minus Michael Boley. However, in this postseason both linebacking cores have amazingly mustered up solid performances. Rob Ninkovich has appeared to become one of the leaders on defense for the Pats and Boley, Blackburn and others have maintained solid play this postseason.
DEFENSIVE BACKS- The Patriots have suffered so many injuries at this position. Devin McCourty was supposed to be the Pats next shut down corner, but got injured during the season and has not been the same player since. Pat Chung got hurt, Kyle Arrington got hurt as well as others. So in steps Matthew Slater and Julian Edelman, two wide receivers turned defensive backs for the season, and they somehow played well.
However they Pats just haven’t stopped anyone. Joe Flacco just torched them on their own field. The Giants secondary has been spotty, but they’re so much more talented and have played so much better.
SPECIAL TEAMS- Both team have a poor return game and both teams are very solid in kick coverage and the punting game. This game could come down to both kickers. I’m not a fan of Lawrence Tynes, and I never have been. He doesn’t have great leg power and I’ve always felt he is too inconsistent. However, he continues to make big kicks so maybe I’m off the reservation.
Stephen Gostkowski has been very solid in his whole career, but he has never really had a “big kick.” Ultimately, I think this area is a push, but if this game comes down to a field goal attempt, or late in the game their needs to be a shift in field position, the Giants could have the upper hand.
COACHING- Tom Coughlin has shown that he is definitely Hall of Fame worthy. This man is supposedly fired every single season by the New York media, yet he has his team back in the Super Bowl for the second time in five seasons. Despite this, he’s no Bill Bellicheck.
Bill is so smart that last weekend against Baltimore, when 31 other coaches would have probably iced Billy Cundiff, Bellicheck doesn’t and Cundiff misses. He knows every in and out of the game, and gets the most out of every player he coaches.
THE PICK- For those of you scoring at home, my advantages wound up dead even. That’s the type of game this will be. The Giants in my opinion have a little more talent in this matchup than they did in 2007, especially on offense. The Patriots don’t nearly have the talent they had when these two teams played in Super Bowl XLII, but they will be more prepared.Brady and Belichick will not leave the film room until they know everything the Giants will throw at them.
I’ve picked against the Giants in two of the three playoff games this year and before the game against the Niners I picked against them for the past four weeks. Good news Giants fans, I’m doing it again. Call me crazy, but I don’t see how Belichick and Brady will not win this one. They had to watch as the Giants in 2007 took their perfect season and flushed it down the toilet, metaphorically speaking.
In the ultimate sense of revenge, Chad Ochocinco catches a 14-yard fade pass from Tom Brady, just as Plaxico Burress caught a 14-yard fade pass from Eli Manning, and the Patriots, finally, get their revenge.
PATRIOTS 31 GIANTS 27