The two weeks between the conference championship games has proved that it is way too much time to hype a game. So far, I have heard every analyst tell me their thoughts on Rob Gronkowski’s ankle, yet, no one decided to ask a medical professional about how the injury will affect him. I’ve heard a QB have to answer questions about his older brother even though his older brother didn’t play this year, while little brother had a career year leading his team to the Super Bowl. I have heard another QB bag a division rival’s local hotels and spend way too much time defending himself for his opinion, which he is entitled to have. Lastly, I have been told if I am rooting for the New England, I am disrespecting the Giants and if I am rooting for New York, I am a Patriots hater. So, which one am I?
First off, the Super Bowl they played four years ago is irrelevant. The game they played in the regular season is irrelevant. What each did in the conference championship games is very relevant. Both teams got very lucky breaks to get here. New England at least should have been in OT if not for Billy Cundiff fanning on a chippy. If not for a novice punt/kick returner not knowing to stay away and then protect the football, the Manning brothers would both be watching from a suite. Either way, both found a way to win a game they probably should have lost.
Cool Super Bowl stat: Giants coach Tom Coughlin was an assistant on Bill Parcells Giants staff when they won Super Bowl XXV. Patriots coach Bill Belichick was the Giants defensive coordinator that year.
Cool Super Bowl stat 2: This will be the Giants fifth Super Bowl. This is Belichick’s fifth Super Bowl appearance as New England’s head coach. Both the Giants and Patriots under Belichick are 3-1 in those Super Bowls.
Tight Ends: For those thinking Gronk will be a factor need to remember high ankle sprain’s are not fully recovered in two weeks. If he does play, sitting for 30 minutes at halftime will be a struggle because that ankle will tighten up. Don’t be surprised if he is a non-factor. Without a healthy Gronk, the Patriots are not at full strength, putting more pressure on Brady and the rest of the WRs and Hernandez to step up, which will be difficult seen as New England doesn’t really have an outside threat at WR. The Patriots will focus on the Giants’ top three WRs leaving Jake Ballard the possible breakout performer making him the most effective TE in this game. (Before you send me hate mail. Yes, I know he is the least TALENTED, but we are just talking one game.)
Quarterbacks/Offense: By Tom Brady’s own admission, he was not good in the AFC championship. Eli Manning is playing the best football of his career. Manning was the best 4th quarter QB in the league this season. Without his top threat and facing a better pass rush, Brady will not be the normal Brady. He will put up good numbers, but he may also put up a few INTs. Manning has a full arsenal of healthy WRs and a better running game. For tomorrow, Eli will be the better QB. (Again, no hate mail, yes, Brady is a Hall of Famer, just not tomorrow.)
Defense: The Giants ranked 27th overall and the Patriots 31st. New York has four studs that can rush Brady. New England has Vince Wilfork and not much else. The Giants have an above average secondary. The Patriots sometimes are forced to play a backup WR Julian Edelman at corner. Seeing this, who do you think will have an easier time making plays in the pocket? Again, not historically, not who is the Hall of Famer, who will be better tomorrow knowing this…Eli Manning.
Random Super Bowl nugget: Each Super Bowl champion since 2000 has had an above average QB and at least two defensive players who could be game changers and disrupt an offensive flow. Only one team in Sunday’s game has both. That’s the Giants.
Prediction: Tom Brady will have 300 yards and three TDs, but his best weapon will be limited and the Giants offense will be able to put up more points on the Pats defense. New York 35, New England 31.