Sunday, February 03, 2008

One Game to Glory: Super Bowl Preview

There have been approximately eleventy-billion words written and more than that many spoken about the Pats-Giants Super Bowl matchup today. I'm not going to be able to add much insight. But since when has that ever stopped me?


While I think the Patriots are going to mash the Giants, there are ways that the Ginats can win. If their front four can get to Brady, allowing their secondary and linebackers to be in pass coverage without blitzing, if Eli Manning can connect with Plaxico Burress and the rest of that receiving corps in that 10-15 yard zone where the Pats have previously shown themselves to be sort of vulnerable, if the Giants can pound the ball, keeping the Patriot defense on the field and more importantly, the Pats offense off of it, the Giants will make a game of this. The Giants are a good team or else they would not be here. But keep in mind my mantra: The best team going in almost always wins these sorts of matchups. I know that sounds obvious, but in our zeal to talk ourselves into good games, we let this fact slip away.


But the following are not good reasons for why the Giants might win the Super Bowl, even though I have actually heard people try to use them to boost the Giants:

That they have momentum. Are these people insane? The Patriots are 18-0, the only team in history ever to reach that level. The Giants have won three games in a row. Their loss was to the Patriots. One of those wins was a Wild Card game victory over Tampa, a game they had to play because, well, they were not that good during the regular season.


As a subset of the momentum argument, some have asserted that the Giants' record ten-game road winning streak gives them an advantage. Fforget, of course, that the Patriots have an eight game road winning streak. The Giants have won games on the road because, again, they were not good enough to get so much as a single home playoff game. The Giants have lost at ome this season. Let's not make too much of this road winning streak given that, again, the Patriots are undefeated. they win every single momentum discussion.


We've heard a lot of the "Eli has grown" arguments. But let me ask you this: Do we really think that three games have turned Eli from a wildly inconsistent quarterback with a nearly 1:1 interception-to-touchdoen ratio into Joe Montana? He's been good in the playoffs. Let's not make more of it than that.


So what do I see happening?


And finally, we've heard all sorts of things about the 38-35 game to close ouyt the regular season. And the Giants did play one hell of a game. But the Pats didn't do anything on defense in terms of game planning. And the Pats won that game and put up 38 points. I do not see them scoring less than 38 and I don't see the Giants scoring as much as 35. Overstate the Giants learning how to beat the Patriots based on that game. What they actually learned is that they know how to lose to the Patriots. maybe only by three, but a three-point loss is a loss nonetheless, and forgive me if I think that Belichick will have done a better job of working from that game and using the two-week interregnum since the conference championship games than Coughlin has.


I can envision the Patriots coming out and leaning on the running game, with Laurence Maroney pounding inside and breaking outside. With Kevin Faulk as a change of pace back. With Heath Evans ensuring third-and-short success. And perhaps with an occasional attempt to hit Moss deep. Establishing the run will neutralize the Giants' admittedly stellar pass pressure, because they will not be able to pin their ears back. They will need to play the run. By the second quarter the Pats will be able to go to the passing game more -- mostly mid-range passes to Watson, Faulk, Welker, and just about every other guy on the roster who does not line up from tackle to tackle.


By the time halftime approaches the Pats will have all of their weapons at their disposal, they will be up by a couple of touchdowns, and the Giants will have to rely on Eli Manning to lead them from behind. The last month notwithstanding, I don't think Eli having to make up a big deficit inspires confidence among Giants fans. The Pats will force Manning into at least two interceptions. The Pats will swarm runners and force at least one fumble. And the Patriot special teams will have at least one big play. by the time the fourth quarter rolls around, we'll see a coronation, not a contest.


Patriots 45-Giants 16

6 comments:

Eli said...
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dcat said...
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Eli said...
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dcat said...
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Eli said...
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Anonymous said...

Hi, this is Tom C. here fresh off a Giants victory parade in New York City. I am taking a breather for the off season here and connecting with the fans. Wow, your as long winded as a Noreaster dcat but I think my team has shown this preview to be about has reliable as Dick Cheney with a rifle; way off target. Back to the days when I was on Bill Parcells staff with Bill Belichick I always told him I would get him in the big game if we ever met as I was the better coach, better dresser, and able to relate to my players and the fans. Not to mention not requiring videotape for an upper hand over the competition. I just utilized my brilliant coaching staff to devise a good old fashioned game plan for the defense to rattle Tom Brady and my MVP Eli to keep it close. Well, maybe next year dcat. Have yourself a good off season. Time to get back to Giselle. Now that is an off season conditioning program!!