Ah man. Super Bowl is bitter sweet. It's always a lot of fun but of course the end of the season. Football withdrawals start tomorrow. Ugghhhh! As a football nut and administrator of a large football pool every season (send me an email if you want in next season), I usually have plenty of football shit to talk about.
Today's matchup is one of my favorites; the rematch. As you know, the Giants knocked off the undefeated Patriots a few years ago. Their recipe? Keep pretty boy running for his life. I suspect that Coach Coughlin will use much of the same strategy today as a lot of New York's key components from their former Super Bowl team are still in place. Michael Strahan retired after that victory but has been replaced by first round draft pick Jason Pierre-Paul who is now wrapping up his second season. JPP will finish his career as the next great pass rusher but, again, this is only his second season and so he lacks the experience. The Giants defensive front, however, is still as dominant. Expect more of the same today from this nasty bunch of guys. On the New England side, their defense finished the regular season near the bottom. While they held up just good enough to beat Baltimore in the AFC Championship, Joe Flacco carved them up like a turkey. Since New England lacks a strong pass rush, their strategy today must focus on the secondary to keep New York receivers in check and generate some turnovers at key moments of the game.
On the offensive side, Eli Manning is a much better quarterback today compared to his first Super Bowl victory. He is smart with the football and is one of the most elusive quarterbacks in the league. New York has fast receivers and a lot of the passing plays we see today will be timing patterns. While their running game is inconsistent, New York has a pair of humungous running backs and we'll see a lot of up-the-middle plays designed to soften and humiliate the New England defensive line. This should force Coach Belichick to commit more players against the run, opening up opportunities for Eli Manning and those fast receivers.
New England offense is as potent as ever courtesy of Tom Brady, perhaps the best quarterback to ever play the game. Brady has an axe to grind and this is a key difference between today's matchup and their loss to New York a few years ago. New England also has the best tight-end tandem ever in Gronkowski and Hernandez. These two combined for over 2,200 yards in the regular season because of the mismatches they create. They have been New England's money boys all season. Add in Wes Welker and what we have here is a serious problem for New York's questionable secondary. New York cannot afford to blitz New England. This is why their defensive line must get to Brady early and often without help from the blitz.
Conclusion: If New England's offensive line can hold up against the New York pass rush, then it's Tom Brady and the New England Patriots all day. The edge goes to New England because of Tom Brady and his thirst for revenge against New York and those big and fast tight-ends.
Could be a shoot-out. I'm cheering for New York but...
New England 34 / New York 27