Super Bowl XLVI Preview

It has happened again: my two least favorite teams playing for the NFL’s top prize, the Lombardi Trophy, in a rematch of Super Bowl XLII, one of the better games in Super Bowl history. The New York Giants and the New England Patriots are meeting in Indianapolis for the second time in the last five seasons. The New England Patriots come in as the AFC’s number one seed, as they went 13-3 during the season, won the AFC East, and are coming into the game having won ten straight. The NFC Champion New York Giants, who were the number four seed at 9-7, are riding a five game winning streak into the game. The teams met once before during the season, as the Giants won in New England 24-20 on a last-second touchdown pass by Eli Manning. Tom Brady and the Patriots look to avenge this season’s loss and the loss in the Super Bowl only a few years ago.
The New England Patriots went 13-3 and grabbed the number one seed and home field throughout the playoffs. They are led by three-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Tom Brady, who threw for 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns during the season. Brady has some great weapons as receiver, namely Wes Welker who caught a league leading 122 balls for 1,569 yards. Tight End Rob Gronkowski is Brady’s other favorite target, as he had a historic season breaking tight end records for both receiving yards (1,327) and touchdowns (17). The Patriots defense is a different story; they were 31st in total defense and passing yards given up yet are also 15th in scoring defense. The Pats’ defense has been much maligned all year, but have come up with some huge plays in big games, even with some major injuries (so major that they now regularly play offensive receivers in the defensive backfield). Since the Pats were ranked the one seed, they received a much needed first round bye in the playoffs. In the divisional round they easily dispatched Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos 45-10, in a game in which Tom Brady threw six touchdown passes. Then, in the AFC Championship, the Pats needed a late, clutch drive by Tom Brady and a missed field goal by Billy Cundiff to sneak by the Ravens 23-20. The Patriots hope this game can springboard their defense into a great performance against the Giants.
The New York Giants had a rollercoaster-like season, starting out 6-2 but finding themselves at 7-7 and underdogs to their inner-city rivals, the New York Jets. In that game the Giants looked well on their way to an eighth loss and a third late season collapse in as many years when Victor Cruz turned an eleven yard catch and some bad tackling by the Jets’ Antonio Cromartie into a 99-yard touchdown pass. The Giants have never looked back from that point, putting away the Jets and Cowboys to end the season at 9-7 and win an unusually weak NFC East. Eli Manning had a breakout year and threw for 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns. Like Brady, Manning has two great receiving targets in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. Nicks is the steady receiver while Cruz, who was third in the league in receiving yards with 1,536, is more of the big play guy who came out of nowhere to take the NFL by storm with his precise routes and salsa dance moves. The Giants running game is basically the polar opposite of their passing game, as they have gotten minimal production from both Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. On defense the Giants employ some of the best pass rushers in the game with Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck. Despite these weapons, the NY defense was 29th in pass defense and 27th in total defense while giving up 25 points per game–8th worst. In the playoffs the Giants got a home game and destroyed the Atlanta Falcons 24-2. Then they took to the road and defeated the 15-1 Green Bay Packers 37-20 and the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 in the NFC Championship in overtime. The Giants are looking to capitalize on a big game from Eli Manning and an opportunistic defense to win their 4th Super Bowl, and second in five seasons.
On the actual game–in all honesty, I am not really sure. Both teams have great passing offenses and below-average defenses to the point where they are susceptible to big plays and long drives. Both are coming into the game extremely hot, and the game will probably come down to whichever defense can make more plays. Both Brady and Eli are going to complete passes and score, but if the Giants can get their pass rush going early or if the Patriots keep coming up with the improbable big plays from their secondary, that team will most likely come out victorious. The game should be extremely close and could come down to whoever has the ball last. A win for the Patriots could cement Tom Brady and Bill Belichick as the best ever at their respective positions, as it will be their fourth championship. For the Giants, a win will almost definitely vault Eli Manning into the “elite” quarterback category inhabited by guys like Aaron Rodgers, Brady, Drew Brees, and his brother Peyton. Some other big storylines that could come into play are Rob Gronkowski’s ankle injury, which could hinder his production greatly. Also, how do the Giants plan on stopping the dynamic Tight End duo of Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez? Are the Patriots really going to use receiver Julian Edelman to cover Nicks, Cruz, and Mario Manningham? As far as predictions go, I see both quarterbacks having big games, but I feel the Pats can get running back Ben-Jarvus Green Ellis going on the ground to keep Eli off the field. I see a close game throughout but a late Giants turnover will cost them dearly as the Patriots will make a 31-24 game 34-24. The Giants will add a late score to make the game 34-31, but the Pats will recover the onside kick and run out the clock to win Super Bowl XLVI 34-31 in a classic back and forth game.

-Giuseppe Bonaddio, Contributing Writer

Posted by on February 2, 2012. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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