We have a rematch of Super Bowl XLII.
New England Patriots versus New York Giants.
It was just four years ago the Patriots were coming to Super Bowl XLII undefeated and being touted as possibly the greatest team of all time. Tom Brady was gunning for Super Bowl victory number four putting him in elite company with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana as the only quarterbacks with four Super Bowl Championships. The Giants were coming in on a hot streak and with a nasty defense. They were playing their best football of the season. The Giants had played the final game of the regular season against New England with the Patriots winning 38-35 and securing a perfect season. The Super Bowl rematch was very different. A defensive battle where the Giants front line attacked Brady all game. He was able to lead the Patriots down the field late to take a 14-10 lead surely securing the championship and immortality. Little time was left for Eli Manning and company to spring the upset and dash the hopes of Brady and the Pats. It was not be for the Patriots that day. It took a crazy scramble by Eli and an even crazier catch on the helmet of David Tyree in the waning minutes to keep hope alive and keep the 1972 Dolphins as the only undefeated team in NFL history. The Giants won that Super Bowl on defense, toughness, and little bit of divine intervention. It also doesn't hurt to have a super clutch quarterback in Eli Manning. He out dueled Tom Brady that day and matched his brother Peyton as a Super Bowl winning quarterback. It was a classic!
Which brings me to this years Super Bowl. Super Bowl XLVI.
This game is setting up eerily similar to their previous match ups. They again met earlier this year and the Giants were able to win with defense and Eli stepping up huge late in the fourth quarter to snatch victory away from the Patriots. These comebacks are beginning to be common place for Eli Manning, especially against the Patriots. Super Bowl XLVI shouldn't be any different.
The Patriots again have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL but it comes with questions. The biggest question coming into the game has been the health of Rob Gronkowski. The All-Pro tight end hasn't been practicing due to a high ankle sprain and he is a serious weapon in the Patriots arsenal. The Patriots love to run two tight end sets and not having both of them fully healthy will alter their ability to advance down the field. The Giants aggressive defense will hound Brady and attack him at all angles. I feel the biggest factor will be the protection Tom Brady has from his offensive line. Protecting Brady's blindside will be a tough task as the defensive front of the Giants has been murderous for the past month. Keeping Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul off of Brady will be a tall order. The Patriots will need to counter the aggressive style of the Giants and use draw plays and screen passes to effectively move the ball. If the Patriots can avoid third and long situations and keep Brady off his backside then the Patriots will score. If not it will be a long night for Mr. Brady.
Conversely, the ability of the Giants to run the ball with Jacobs and Bradshaw will be the key. They will need the clock running as to keep Brady and his offense off the field but also give the Giants defense a much needed breather. The Patriots defense throughout the season has been a bit "soft" but has stepped up lately. Eli is as cool as they come and has been super this whole postseason. He should have no problems moving the ball and finding his receiver corps of Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks in the very weak Patriots secondary. The Patriots were very lucky against the Ravens having almost let a touchdown score with seconds on the clock and then getting a botched field goal to end it. The Patriots have been good enough when it counts, but good enough doesn't win Super Bowls. It doesn't matter who your quarterback is. Just ask John Elway. He was arguably one of the best quarterbacks of all time, but before he won a Super Bowl he lost badly because his defense couldn't stop anyone and he had no running game. It really does come down to rushing the football and defense. The old saying goes that defense wins championships. This is why I feel it will be same old song for the Patriots.
The Giants will get to Brady a bunch and keep the high scoring offense at bay. Gronkowski will score a TD and Brady will again run one in. Stephen Gostkowski will split the uprights 3 times. The Giants will run the ball effectively and keep the chains moving. They will get TD's from Bradshaw on the ground, Manningham in the air, and a fumble return by J.P.P. The fourth quarter will see saw but clutch play from Eli Manning will be the difference. In the end Lawrence Tynes will kick a field goal as time expires.
The final score New York Giants 24, New England Patriots 23