We waited two weeks for this game. We have heard all the stories surrounding the Super Bowl and some stories that weren’t really stories. Whether it was the New York Post publishing Giselle Bundchen’s E-Mail praying for Tom Brady or New York tabloids putting Brady’s pep rally comments out of proportion, the stories have been way too much. On Sunday night, we will finally get the game kicked off at 6:30 EST on NBC. The New York Giants will battle the New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.
This is a re-match of a meeting earlier this year back in Week 9 where the Giants stunned the Patriots in Gillette Stadium 24-20 on a last second touchdown pass by Eli Manning to Jake Ballard. However, a lot of Patriots’ fans want some form of revenge for the Super Bowl four years ago where New York ended New England’s perfect season in Glendale 17-14. The Patriots will try to finish off the Rock Band Revenge Tour where they atone for heartbreaking losses over the past few seasons.
The big storyline for the Patriots is the status of tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronk suffered a high ankle sprain in the 4th quarter of the Pats’ AFC Championship win over the Baltimore Ravens. He did participate in practice on Thursday on a limited basis, but he will not be 100% for this game. The Giants are a hot team, winning their last five games, but it seems the national media has chosen to dismiss the Patriots’ ten game winning streak. Even though the Giants are three point underdogs, they seem to be everyone’s pick this year.
On that note, it’s time to discuss some of the major keys for this Super Bowl:
Protect from Pass Rush: Tom Brady said earlier this week that he was terrorized from the New York Giants’ pass rush. Who can blame him? In the last two meetings, Big Blue has seven sacks against the Patriots’ quarterback, which includes the likes of Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, and Jason Pierre-Paul. The key for the Patriots to neutralize that pass rush is to provide some balance in their offense. They have to run the football with the duo of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead. The Pats ran for 86 yards on 21 carries against Baltimore, but abandoned the run most of the 2nd half. Maybe this time we will see Belichick give Eli Manning the Brady treatment by making him watch long drives from the sidelines. If New England is not successful at the run, it may be a long day for Brady in the pocket.
Elite Eli?: Yes, folks, Eli Manning IS an elite quarterback. He has played like it this year, particularly in the playoffs. Manning has eight touchdowns to just one interception in the postseason. He has the better group of wide receivers in Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Mario Manningham. I wouldn’t rule out tight end Jake Ballard as a legitimate option because he stepped up on the final drive at Gillette this year. I do think Manning will get his fair share of yards, but they need their ground game as well. The Patriots’ defensive line has put more pressure on the quarterback this postseason. If Eli throws the ball 50+ times, he will turn the ball over at least once because New England’s pass defense may give up yards, but they always force crucial turnovers. With Ahmad Bradshaw playing for New York in this matchup, the front four will need to neutralize the big runs after they gave up 72 yards and a touchdown to Brandon Jacobs in the first matchup.
Yo Soy Fiesta: This key is all about Rob Gronkowski. He is one of the key players for this Patriots’ team since he had the best season by a tight end in NFL history. There is no way that he will be 100% by Sunday, but maybe the adrenaline of the game and a little halftime injection can help him get through it. People say that he won’t make a impact, but even as a decoy, his impact will be felt.
I compare him to the likes of Terrell Owens from the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory over the Eagles. Owens played that Super Bowl for Philly with basically a broken leg and caught nine passes for 122 yards. While I don’t think Gronk will repeat that performance, I think he can catch five passes for between 60 and 80 yards. The Patriots need those two tight end formations in order to be successful. I look for Wes Welker to make an impact since he averages over 120 receiving yards in the last three meetings against New York.
PREDICTION TIME: I live in New York City, so I am seen a ton of Giants’ coverage over the last two weeks with players planning parades and Pierre-Paul saying Brady is skittish. My message would be to not underestimate the power duo that is Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. As for the game itself, I expect this game to start off very low scoring like the other meetings. The second half will be the shootout half as Eli and Brady will put up a ton of points.
It will come down to who has the ball last and here’s my scenario. Giants will lead this game with 2:00 to go and Brady will drive down the field and get the touchdown that people are looking for him to end a game with a touchdown pass. Brady will win his 4th Super Bowl with a touchdown to Welker.
PATRIOTS 30 GIANTS 27
My MVP: WES WELKER!
We, at Foxboro Blog, thank you for reading all of our game previews this season and now it’s time for the Lombardi Trophy to come back to Foxboro!!