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