Daily Noontime – February 6, 2012

Eli Manning once again led New York past New England in Super Bowl XLVI. (Photo Credit: SB Nation)

By NoontimeSports.com 

It’s Monday in New England, and while many continue to dry their eyes from Sunday’s Super Bowl loss, let’s attempt to turn the page with some news and headlines.

* The New York Giants once again defeated the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, 21-17. Eli Manning completed 30 of 40 passes for 296 yards and on touchdown, while Ahmad Bradshaw scored the game winning touchdown with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter. Also, the Patriots recorded five penalties for 28 yards, too. Manning was named the MVP for the second time in four years, as the Giants earned their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history.

* The Boston Celtics won their fourth consecutive contest on Sunday at the TD Garden, as they defeated the Memphis Grizzlies, 98-80. Kevin Garnett led the Green and White with 24 points and nine rebounds, while Rajon Rondo handed out 14 assists. Boston will return to the hardwood on Tuesday when they host the Charlotte Bobcats.

* The Boston Bruins snapped their two-game losing streak on Sunday in Washington D.C., as the Black and Gold defeated the Capitals, 4-1. Tim Thomas turned away 35 shots, while Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley all scored goal for Boston. The Bruins will conclude their short road trip on Wednesday when they travel to Buffalo.

* Lastly, Monday marks the first day of the men’s Boston Beanpot, which enters its 60th year. Boston University will face-off against Harvard at 5pm, while Boston College will take on Northeastern at 8pm.

Lindberg: Super Bowl Prediction

By Andy Lindberg

To start, I have not allowed myself to watch, nor read any Super Bowl coverage over the past two weeks.  I have not gone on to sports websites nor have I tuned in to ESPN on TV.  The only thing I have allowed myself was the Bill Simmons Super Bowl Mailbag.  That’s it.  I did not want to hear all the crap that I’m sure was prevalent over the airwaves.  Still, the aura of this game has been impossible to escape.

If the New England defense can play like they did against Baltimore, the Patriots will win the Super Bowl.

Side note: they will not win if Tom Brady plays like he did against Baltimore, but that is a given.

I’m sure this game has been broken down every way possible.  Being a neurotic Pats fan for 19 years now (I moved to CT from Alabama in 1992 and became a Pats fan for the 2-14 season that ensued), I know when not to be cocky.  This is most certainly one of those years.  Take what I say with a grain of salt, I’m a natural pessimist.

New England’s defense has to match up against Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and tight end Jake Ballard.  Covering one (or more) of these receivers throughout will be New England wide receiver Julian Edelman.  Doubling the man Edelman is on will put any of the other receiving threats in man-to-man coverage with the likes of Devin McCourty (who’s had a very disappointing year), Sterling Moore (my hero from the Baltimore game, but seriously, Lee Evans?), or Patrick Chung (knee injuries).

Admittedly, the Giants are the beneficiaries of bad football by Green Bay and San Francisco special teams.  However one does not simply go to the Super Bowl on luck alone.  Good teams capitalize on mistakes, and the Giants are one of the top teams at doing just that.

Brady was sacked five times during the last Super Bowl meeting between these two teams.  A rookie (Nate Solder) will be playing right tackle for the Patriots tonight.  It has been shown when Brady is hit, he gets flustered and may lose some of his composure.  During the 24-20 loss to the Giants earlier this year, Brady started to duck out of pressure that wasn’t even there by the end of the game.

New England stud tight end Rob Gronkowski has a high ankle sprain, and may be ineffective against New York.  This leaves Aaron Hernandez to pick up the slack and BenJarvus Green-Ellis has to try and wear down the Giant front seven in order to keep Eli Manning on the bench.

In the end, the Giants appear to be the more complete football team, not to mention they’re on a complete hot streak.  The Patriots are maligned and maligned for a reason, and I do not believe this game will be anywhere near as close as the last meeting.  Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs will wear down New England’s front seven and will open up the play action game for Manning’s stud receivers.  Brady will more than likely be put on his back frequently throughout the game, and will try to force throws to covered receivers.

Final Score: New York-38, New England-13

Noonan: Super Bowl XLVI Prediction – New England vs. New York

Can Tom Brady earn his fourth Super Bowl ring on Sunday? (Photo Credit: Zimbio.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Well, it’s time for me, (Matt Noonan) to deem a NFL champion for Noontime Sports.

It’s been a LONG season, and 32 teams have dwindled down to just two, New England and New York, and once the clock strikes zero in the fourth quarter, we’ll officially have a winner, right?

OK… there might be overtime or a second or third, but you get my drift.

Although, how bizarre is it that pigskin lovers get to watch a rematch of Super Bowl XLII?

Doesn’t it seem like yesterday that New Englanders were crossing their fingers for Tom Brady to recover from his awful performance against the San Diego Chargers in the 2007 AFC title match?

Well, he didn’t do that well against the Baltimore Ravens two weeks ago, so should we expect déjà vu all over again? Who knows!

The Giants are a mediocre squad. Seriously, they’re 9-7, which means they’re OK, but not great, and as someone who is a true Dallas Cowboys supporter, it pains me to see Eli Manning leading his troops in the “big game” instead of Tony Romo. However, Manning certainly has taken a step forward toward the upper echelon of “elite quarterbacks” in the NFL, but now the question remains … can he beat Brady and the Patriots on Sunday, again?

I certainly think it’s possible, especially since New York has a variety of offensive weapons that can stretch the field, and attack Bill Belichick’s questionable and fragile secondary.

Also, I believe the Giants front seven will attempt to mimic their actions from four years ago when they recorded five sacks in Arizona. However, they never forced Brady to throw an interception, but this past November when the two teams met in Foxborough, the G-Men tallied two sacks and two interceptions, as well as a win, too.

New England hasn’t defeated New York since that epic clash in December of 2007, which was when the Patriots registered their 16th victory, and ended the regular season with a perfect record. Yet, ever since that night in New Jersey, the Giants have had their number in the championship and regular season matches, which probably means they’re better, right?

Hard to answer that particular question, but overall, I think these two teams are even. And yes, I know I labeled the Giants as “mediocre,” but all in all, I think we’re going to be watching a true heavyweight bout.

Super Bowl XLVI Prediction: The Giants rallied to beat the Patriots earlier this season, and it’s certainly possible that Manning could lead a last minute drive and hook up with Jake Ballard or Victor Cruz for the game-winning touchdown.

However, I believe in the motto, “In Bill, We Trust.” New England’s defense has ratcheted up their intensity over the past few weeks, and certainly defied the odds against Baltimore and Denver in the playoffs.

Although, shouldn’t every defense be able to stop Tim Tebow and the Broncos offense? I think so!

If New England can establish the run and maintain the time of possession, then I’m expecting the Patriots to win. Although, if Manning and his offense to can beat up the Patriots front seven and tear apart the secondary, then the Giants should win.

Overall, it’s a tough decision, but I going to stick with my gut and say… New England 20, New York 17

New York Trash Talk Won’t Faze New England On Sunday

Will the brash words of the New York Giants help them defeat the New England Patriots on Sunday? (Photo Credit: Media.KansasCity.com)

By Nate Boroyan 

As a New England sports fan, I often take it as a personal insult if a player on an opposing team starts talking “trash” about Boston sports. I don’t know why, but I guess after a decade of dominance, I’ve found it hard to believe that people could insult any team located in Massachusetts.

This week however, the teenage angst has dissipated and I have fallen back into a state of euphoric reflection.

If you don’t already know, the New England Patriots have a big game on Sunday, and for the record, they’re playing the New York “Football” Giants.

Yes, it’s the rematch of Super Bowl XLII, but it’s also a chance for redemption, as well as the opportunity to erase the past and remove the phrase, “What could have been” out of our minds.

Admittedly, the matchup originally petrified me. The prospect of facing a team with as much momentum as the Giants with the “mouth-breather,” Eli Manning himself, playing the best Football of his career seemed like a daunting task, but then media day arrived, and from listening/reading quotes from various Giants players, I realized that this is the most emotionally confused and damaged group of football stars.

Half of these so-called, “New Yorkers” admitted that they’ve already won the Super Bowl, while others attempted to act like the Patriots, who’re regularly humble human beings.

Heads up guys, you can’t be world-beaters and underdogs because that’s not how it works. You pick an angle and use it to your advantage. If you say, you’re going to win the game, then stand by it and make sure everyone on the team is on the same page. Although, if you’re going to be the underdog, utilize it to you’re advantage and jack up you’re intensity.

With New England, you know what you’re going to get. They’re going to try and be as down to earth as possible. True, its 99.99 percent mind games, but still, they absolutely won’t say anything that will give the other team added motivation, right?

Although, I must ask, has anyone heard listened to the “talking heads” this past week on ESPN? Well, in case you haven’t, they believe that New York is going to roll over New England, and capture their second NFL championship in four seasons.

In fact, almost every analyst, most notably Phillip Simms and Ron Jaworski picked the Giants to beat the Patriots because of New York’s prolific pass rush. On top of that, the Patriots are only three-point favorites – a line that doesn’t seem unreasonable, especially since New England finished the year, 13-3.

Although, I do wonder if it’s really an insult for a 9-7 team, who ended the season with two loses to the Washington Redskins, as well as one to the Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks, to be labeled underdogs against New England?

Does Eli Manning have what it takes to beat Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, again? (Photo Credit: New York Daily News)

Last time I checked, the Patriots finished the year with four more wins, but that doesn’t seem to faze Manning, who told the reporters, “Whoever they try to take away, other guys will be open.”

Whoa!

Take it easy there, gunslinger. I know you’ve won a Super Bowl, but you’re not exactly Cam Newton when it comes to charisma.

Cornerback Corey Webster, who has decided to backtrack a bit when it comes to the Giant’s confidence said, “We are just happy to be here. We had a great first practice. The enthusiasm was there and if we keep on doing that then we will be ok.”

Well you might be happy to be in the Super Bowl, Corey, but others seem to think that it’s ludicrous that New York gets to play in this particular game.

Giant’s alliteration and confusion aside, I happen to appreciate the talk, and from a media standpoint, it makes it so much more interesting.

As a Pats fan, the talking has put me in a comfortable mood, and while analyst and players will downplay the significance of trash talk by players, I won’t.

The fact that I’m hearing and reading everything that the Giants are saying leads me to believe that one or two of the Patriots might be doing the same thing, too. However, we’ll never hear about it, but I think its safe to assume that a Bill Belichick coached team is well versed in the practice of finding bulletin board material.

People going against New England and riding the wave of the hot team. They may be favorites, but in reality, they’re underdogs. They can’t overcome Rob Gronkowski’s injury. Their defense can’t contain the Giants offense. Their offense line can’t stop the Giants rush, and certainly they cannot win a fourth Super Bowl.

I don’t think the Patriots would want it any other way. Despite their accolades, they are the same team acting as if they’re the ones that are just happy to be there.

So what does all this mean? Ahem… Cue the Duck Boats!

Countdown to Super Bowl XLVI: Recapping Media Day (Links)

The New England Patriots players seemed to enjoy Media Day! (Photo Credit: TimesUnion.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

It’s Tuesday, which means we’re inching closer to Sunday’s big game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants. Although, while we anxiously count down the hours, minutes and seconds, let’s continue our series, “Countdown to the Super Bowl” with a few highlights and links from Media Day.

* Media Day’s are normally filled with a variety of thought provoking, as well as silly and bizarre questions. Do you think someone asked Bill Belichick to spell his receivers names? I don’t think so, but according to an article from the AP, we learn about some of the unusual questions that were asked on Tuesday.

* ESPNBoston.com provided an interesting blog that featured highlights of a Tedy Bruschi interview on The Herd with Chris Cowherd radio show. Bruschi talked about the big game and tight end Rob Gronkowski‘s injury.

* Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco reflected on this past year with New England, and talked with the NFL Network about the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl.

* New England quarterback Tom Brady certainly enjoyed his fifth “Media Day,” and handled the press “with aplomb.”

* According to ESPNNewYork.com – Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz is excited to test the Patriots questionable secondary.

* The New York Times provides an interesting piece on quarterback Eli Manning, who spoke with reporters about his brother Peyton Manning, but not his future.

* It’s a total long shot, but could Giants head coach Tom Coughlin “be forging a legacy” if his team defeats the Patriots, again?

* The New York Daily News profiled Belichick’s “Media Day” experience.

The Rematch – Super Bowl XLVI Will Feature New England & New York

Do you remember Super Bowl XLII? (Photo Credit: Quarterbacks.org)

By NoontimeSports.com 

It’s hard to fathom, but yes, the New England Patriots and New York Giants will once again be facing off against one another in the Super Bowl.

Are you excited?

Last time, the Giants dashed the Patriots perfect season when quarterback Eli Manning connected on a 13-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Plaxico Burress, which helped New York upset New England, 17-14.

However, while it’s most likely we’ll see a different game than four years ago, we’ve decided here at Noontime Sports that we want to get your first opinions on this matchup.

Post a comment below, send us an email (NoontimeSports@gmail.com), write on our Facebook wall or even tweet at Matt Noonan, (@NoontimeSports).

We’ll have plenty of blogs, videos and podcasts leading up to this much anticipated rematch for the next two weeks. However, let’s get the pre-game excitement going with posts, thoughts and ideas!

Noonan: AFC/NFC Conference Championship Predictions

Can Ray Rice repeat his 2009 postseason performance against New England's defense on Sunday? (Photo Credit: Zimbio.com)

By Matt Noonan

Last week, I went 3-1. This week, I am expecting to go 2-0, but let’s see what happens!

New England 27, Baltimore 24 – I am super excited for this matchup, especially since these two teams always find a way to end the game with a dramatic sequence. Baltimore defeated New England last time these two teams met in the postseason, 33-14. Running back Ray Rice tallied 159 yards on 22 carries, and two touchdowns, while quarterback Joe Flacco finished the game 4 of 10 for 34 yards. Although, the true matchup to watch on Sunday will be the Ravens defense against the Patriots offense. Tom Brady tossed six touchdowns last weekend against Denver, and certainly is capable of tearing apart Baltimore’s secondary. However, if Baltimore’s front seven can pressure Brady, as well as control the time of possession on offense, then they’ll win the game. Yet, if New England can control the time of possession, and contain Rice, they’ll win.

San Francisco 24, New York 20  - I am not exactly the biggest fan of head coach Jim Harbaugh, but what he’s done in San Francisco has been rather impressive. Harbaugh revamped the 49ers defense to become one of the best in the league, and against Eli Manning, I’m expecting the front seven to not only pressure him, but also record two or three sacks, too. Alex Smith proved he’s a clutch quarterback, as he tossed three strikes to the end zone last weekend against New Orleans, which included the game winning touchdown to Vernon Davis. San Francisco handed New York a loss earlier this season, and once again, I am expecting them to defeat the Giants in the City By The Bay.

Mistakes, Penalties Hurt Dallas Against New York

10 Penalties and a fumble by Felix Jones were some of the reasons why the Cowboys lost on Sunday! (Photo Credit: Star-Telegram)

By Matt Noonan 

Against the New York Giants, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo tossed four touchdowns, and completed 21-of-34 passes for 321 yards. Yet, his team didn’t win, but instead, lost their second contest in a row.

The Cowboys are clearly in a funk, and something has to change immediately.

They may have exhibited one of the worst collapses on Sunday Night Football, but now they need to follow orders from head coach Jason Garrett, who often preaches to the media, “let’s put this behind us.”

Can Dallas recover? Can they overcome their dramatic two losses? I don’t know.

“I thought it was a hard fought game, and I think everybody on our football team put it out there, put it out there for four quarters,” said Garrett via his team’s website.

The head coach continued to dissect the loss by saying, “We gave ourselves a chance to win at the end. There were a lot of things that were disappointing within the game. I don’t think effort, intensity was an issue at all, [but] there were some execution issues down the stretch, and we got to get those cleaned up.”

One of the biggest factors in this particular game that clearly hurt the Cowboys chances were penalties. Dallas was flagged 10 times, both on offense and defense, which allowed them to lose all sorts of momentum, and practically hand the game to the Giants, literally.

Dallas’ defense also yielded 510 yards, as quarterback Eli Manning finished the game with 400 passing yards, while running back Brandon Jacobs tallied 101 yards on the ground.

“The nature of our team has been we’ve played a lot of close games and we’ve won probably half of them, and we lost some other ones,” said Garret. “And just because you’ve figured out how to do it once, doesn’t mean you’re going to do it all the time. I think that’s just the nature of the [NFL and] we’ve just got to keep finding ways to do much more often than we have [thus far].”

The Cowboys will have a short week before traveling to Tampa Bay on Saturday, so certainly, Garrett and his team will want to figure out their mistakes sooner than later, otherwise, they’ll be sitting at home in mid-January.

Rapid Reaction: Giants Stun Cowboys, 37-34

Giants QB Eli Manning tossed 2 touchdowns against the Cowboys, as New York snapped their four-game losing streak on Sunday in Dallas! (Photo Credit: CNBC.com)

By Matt Noonan 

This wasn’t supposed to happen, right?

The Dallas Cowboys were the bigger, faster and stronger team on Sunday, but in the end, déjà vu occurred, as rookie place kicker Dan Bailey once again failed to convert an end of the game field goal, which allowed the New York Giants to march off the grassy turf of Cowboys Stadium with a much needed conference win.

New York entered the contest on a four-game losing streak, but now, they’re three wins away from wrapping up the NFC East, which originally belonged to the Cowboys.

Yet, how could this happen?

Tony Romo provided a much-needed spark to his offense in the second half, as well as helped Dallas earn a critical 12-point lead. However, Rob Ryan’s defense surrendered 15-points in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter, which helped the Giants steal all the momentum away from the Boys.

Quarterback Eli Manning lit up the Dallas secondary like a Christmas tree, as he tossed two touchdowns and completed 27-of-47 passes for 400 yards, while running back Brandon Jacobs rushed for two scores on 19 carries and 101 yards.

The Cowboys also suffered some serious injuries, as rooking running back DeMarco Murray limped off the field after his fifth carry, and was later diagnosed with a broken right ankle. Cornerback Mike Jenkins injured his shoulder and center Phil Costa was knocked out with a concussion.

Dallas has now lost two games in a row, and will look to snap their current trend immediately on Saturday when they travel to Tampa Bay to face an up-and-down Buccaneers squad, while the Giants will head home for three contests in New Jersey.

We’ll have more NFL coverage on this particular game, and other interesting moments from Week 14 later on Monday, so make sure to check back with us soon!

Also, make sure to follow us on Twitter @NoontimeSports

NFL Week 13 – Afternoon/Evening Scoreboard

By Brian Willwerth 

A recap of Week 13 in the NFL – three of Sunday’s games was decided on the final play of regulation, or overtime. We’ll start with those.

PACKERS 38, GIANTS 35 — Our “Game of the Day” will no doubt get some votes for “Game of the YEAR” when all is said and done. Green Bay and New York combined for nearly 900 yards of total offense. Let’s jump right to crunch time.  Trailing by eight in the final minute, Eli Manning threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks. The Giants made the two-point conversion to tie the game, but then Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers got the ball at his own 20 with 0:58 left on the clock. It only took two big plays for him to lead his team into field goal range. Mason Crosby kicked the game-winning, 30-yard field goal, as time expired, and yes, the Packers improved to [12-0]. Rodgers threw four touchdown passes, while Manning tossed three.

CARDINALS 19, COWBOYS 13 (OT)  – What a wild ending in Glendale, Arizona, and one that will be talked about a lot in Dallas for the next few days. With 0:07 remaining, Dan Bailey was lining up for a game-winning field goal attempt. A timeout was called to ice the kicker. But, the stoppage was called by Dallas head coach Jason Garrett. Bailey’s kick, which went through the uprights, did not count. He had to try it again, and came up short. Arizona got the ball to start overtime, and Kevin Kolb hit Larod Stephens-Howling, who danced through the Cowboys’ defense and into the end zone for a 52-yard, game-winning score. And it’s all because Jason Garrett iced his own kicker, wow!

BRONCOS 35, VIKINGS 32 – Don’t look now, but Denver is now tied for first place in the AFC West. And once again, Tim Tebow led his team from behind. He threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns. Then after the Broncos picked off Christian Ponder with less than two minutes remaining, they marched down the field and Matt Prater kicked a 23-yard field goal as time expired. Tebow is now [6-1] as the Broncos’ starting quarterback.

TITANS 23, BILLS 17Chris Johnson is finding his groove. He ran for 153 yards and two touchdowns in Tennessee’s victory at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Johnson has rushed for over 100 yards in three of his last four games.

CHIEFS 10, BEARS 3 – While this was hardly the best game of the day, it may have featured the play of the day or maybe it was just Kevin Harlan’s voice that made it special. The only touchdown of the contest came on the final play of the first half, when Tyler Palko’s “Hail Mary” pass landed in the arms of Dexter McCluster.  Chicago suffered a significant blow when Matt Forte left the game with a right knee injury.

DOLPHINS 34, RAIDERS 14 – Here’s the upset of the day. In Miami, the Dolphins made it look easy against the first-place Raiders. Reggie Bush ran for 100 yards and a touchdown. Miami scored two touchdowns within 20 seconds of each other in the third quarter.

PATRIOTS 31, COLTS 24 – They love Rob Gronkowski in Foxboro, Massachusetts, as the tight end scored three more touchdowns, giving him 13th touchdown receptions on the season. His other score was a rushing TD on a lateral. The Pats built a big lead, and then hung on as the Colts scored 21 points in the fourth quarter. Indianapolis is now [0-12], while New England is [9-3].

STEELERS 35, BENGALS 7 – This was a statement game for Pittsburgh. At Heinz Field, Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes, as the Steelers swept the season series from Cincinnati, who is now [0-3] against the two teams ahead of them in the AFC North, (PIT and BAL.)

PANTHERS 38, BUCCANEERS 19 – This was all about Cam Newton. Carolina’s rookie quarterback rushed for three touchdowns and threw for another at Raymond James Stadium. Josh Johnson started at quarterback for Tampa Bay in place of the injured Josh Freeman. The Bucs, who at one time were [4-2], and in first place, have lost six in a row.

JETS 34, REDSKINS 19 – At FedEx Field, the Jets kept their playoff hopes alive by rallying for 21 points in the fourth quarter. Mark Sanchez found Santonio Holmes for the game-winning touchdown with 4:49 to play. Washington has lost seven of its last eight.

TEXANS 17, FALCONS 10 – It doesn’t matter who’s playing quarterback for Houston; the Texans keep on winning. Rookie quarterback T.J. Yates played mistake-free football, and Arian Foster rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown.  Atlanta QB Matt Ryan’s last-second pass in the end zone fell incomplete.

49ERS 26, RAMS 0 – We have our first division winner. San Francisco wrapped up in the NFC East with an easy victory at home over St. Louis. Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes, while Frank Gore ran for 73 yards, and became the franchise’s career rushing leader.

RAVENS 24, BROWNS 10 – Neither a driving rainstorm nor Cleveland’s defense could slow down Ray Rice. The Baltimore running back broke loose for a career-high 204 yards, as the Ravens remained in first place in the AFC North. They own the tiebreaker over the Steelers.