The Super Bowl has been broken down for two weeks straight right now, but I would be beside myself if I didn’t throw my two cents in, again. Besides, football season is almost over, and then what am I going to write about, the Bobcats? So here is my position-by-position break down of what I am calling the “g-match.”
Offensive Line: I am giving the edge to Patriots with the big uglies. If the Patriots are going to have any success, they will need to keep Tom Brady upright. The New England front line is going to have their hands full with that ferocious Giants pass rush.
Tight Ends: If you have seen the Patriots play at all this year you know the key to this high-scoring offense has been the tight ends. Rob Gronkowski has been breaking records this season, and behind all that Aaron Hernandez has been sensational as well. The news leading up to this weekend has been the “Gronkle” and whether or not Gronkowski will play. I predict he will play and will be a big factor. On the other side of the ball, don’t sleep on Jake Ballard – he could make some plays if the Giants receiving core is getting double coverage. Either way you look at it you have to give the advantage to the Patriots.
Running Backs: Neither one of the teams’ running games has been spectacular this year, with the Giants ranking 32nd in the NFL and the Patriots 20th in the regular season. A lot is being made that Ahmad Bradshaw was out in the game earlier this season and the fact that he will be playing Sunday. Bradshaw was an intricate part of the Giants win against the Packers, and he will need a good game if the Giants want to win. I think both teams will try to run the ball early to set up play action, so look for a slow start to the Super Bowl. While most people talk about Bradshaw and Jacobs in the Giants backfield, don’t sleep on Henry Hynoski. Despite the dismal numbers in the regular season I am giving the Giants the nod in this matchup.
Wide Receivers: If you look at the rankings you will see the Patriots passing game is ranked 2nd and would probably think I give the nod to the Patriots… but not so fast, my friend. The majority of those numbers have been going to those tight ends. The Pats basically have Wes Welker and his stashe at receiver, and that’s it. I know Deion Branch was Super Bowl MVP at one time, but he been a disappearing act at times this year – trust me, he was on my fantasy team. Victor Cruz, Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks have been lights-out all year. Look for a big game from one if these wide receivers, if not an MVP, but I would be hard-pressed to pick which one it will be. Advantage Giants.
Quarterbacks: As good as Eli has been all year I can’t go against Tom Brady. Brady thrives for games like this and Sunday will be no different. Much has been made this week about Peyton Manning and his neck and whether or not he will be a Colt next season. Meanwhile, no one is talking about the fact that Tom Brady could be planting his flag as greatest of all time. I think Brady feels slighted and he will take it out on the field. Also, between the huge seasons of Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, people are overlooking the fact that Brady threw for 5235 yards and 39 touchdowns. He would have broken Marino’s record, but Brees beat him to it.
Defensive Line: There is no question here that the Giants have the advantage – with big names like Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul we all know that the G-Men pass rush is lethal. I want to talk about a name that doesn’t get all the headlines: Chris Canty. Canty is a man amongst men on the D-line. Look for him to have some success against the Pats O-line. I will say that for New England Vince Wilfork has been an absolute beast this postseason, and if he is able to disrupt that Giants offense and get them off the field on third downs then it could spell trouble for New York
Linebackers: To be quite honest, these two linebacking cores are about equal. I am going to actually give the edge here to the Patriots’ linebackers with Jerod Mayo and Dane Fletcher in the middle simply because I think the Giants are going to have their hands full trying to cover those tight ends. So it’s not that I think one is better than the other, but that the Giants just have a tougher task ahead of them.
Secondary: I am not even sure if the Patriots have a secondary at this point, and the one they do have that has more holes than the Casey Anthony testimony is going to be busy all night trying to cover these red-hot Giant receivers. Look to see if they put Julian Edelman on Victor Cruz in nickel packages. If so, expect big numbers for Cruz up against the former wide receiver Edelman. The one match-up to watch on the other side is who Corey Webster will cover for the Giants. Offenses have picked on him all year long. That being said, I still give the nod to the Giants on this matchup.
X-Factor: Before the season Patriots team owner Robert Kraft lost his wife, Myra Kraft, to cancer. The team has worn a patch with the letters MHK on their uniforms all season. Things like this can inspire teams and push them in huge games to win for their owner. On a lighter note I want to point out the Gisele factor. Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen started dating in December of 2006, and kudos to Tom on that catch, but I would like to point out that the last time the Patriots won the Super Bowl was in 2005. Now I believe that you can’t have your cake and eat it to, so Tom, I wish you the best with Gisele, but I think you are done with winning Super Bowls.
After all is said and done I am picking the Giants to win 24-17. New England has a lot of advantages in this, but I feel like the ones that they are better in are much closer than the ones that New York has the advantage in. Be sure to check back next week when I’ll talk about a day almost as important as Sunday, and also Carolina and Duke.