The Super Bowl is finally here. It’s been two long weeks since the thrilling Championship games and it is now time to settle the score for the best team in the NFL for the 2011-12 season. This game is sure to be a classic because of the intense recent rivalry between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. In 2008, the Patriots entered the Super Bowl an unprecedented 18-0, but the Giants came out on top saving the ’72 Dolphins as the only undefeated team in NFL history.
This game is an interesting one to attempt and predict. Las Vegas opened the line at Patriots -3.5 and the line has not moved much despite an overwhelming majority of analysts predicting the Giants to win. I don’t blame the analysts – on paper the Giants are a much better football team basically across the board (except QB and coaching).
Do the Patriots simply have a larger fan base across America to keep the line steady? Maybe. But I like the Patriots for a few reasons.
First, the line you have heard countless times over the past two weeks is that the Patriots have no defense. Well statistically that may be true, but if you isolate the last 3-4 weeks, the defense hasn’t been bad. Did you see what they did to Ray Rice last week? Also, the Patriots were top 3 in the NFL in turnover differential (+17). This statistic is huge. When the defense is able to give Tom Brady an extra possession per game – good things happen.
Eli Manning had the season of his life this year, but let’s not discount Tom Brady. Tom Brady “only” had a 105 QB rating with 5200+ yards on a team with “no” defense and no run game. When it comes down to it – I’d rather have Tom Brady than Eli Manning.
Then you have to think about Bill Belichick. There is no way that he wants to lose to the Giants in the Super Bowl again. Not only that, but the Giants beat the Patriots earlier this season. Belichick is one of the greatest coaches of all time, and you know he will be prepared. Heck, he even has his team practicing an extended halftime. This is the type of thing that sets him apart. The focus heading into this game will be unheard of.
Lastly, the Giants have consistency issues. They start the season 6-2, then lose four in a row, before winning three of four to make the playoffs. They are playing their best football now, but will they at game time? The Patriots on the other hand have been taking care of business all season long.
The major concern of the Patriots is the health of Rob Gronkowski. He has been Brady’s goto man all season long, and with his high ankle sprain – he will not be near 100% in this game. He will play, and I can see him scoring a TD in the redzone, but the middle of the field I feel he will be limited. But one thing about Brady is that he will make plays regardless of who is on the field – he makes everyone better. Watch out, Chad Ochocinco (the forgotten wide receiver), may step-up big in this game.
Overall, I expect the Patriots to neutralize the Giants defense by picking up the pace with no huddles and unique formations. I like the Patriots defense to force a key turnover and this game will come down to the end of the 4th quarter – but this time the Patriots will come out on top.
[Photo Credit: statesboroherald.com]