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Super Bowl XLVI Preview: Giants vs. Patriots

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Any way you slice it, Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVI match-up between the New England Patriots and Giants is one much of the whole civilized world will probably stop to watch (along with those million-dollar commercials, of course). And there’s no shortage of storylines as to why. Eli Manning vs. Tom Brady in Peyton Manning’s house. Eli possibly earning one more Super Bowl ring than his Hall of Fame-bound brother. Boston vs. New York. Patriots seek revenge against the NY Giants from four Super Bowls ago. And on and on.

Yet, this is also the story of two teams on similar kinds of hot streaks. The Patriots are on a 10-game streak that has seen some dramatic second half comeback wins (led by Brady, of course), while the Giants are on a five-game stretch that needed a combination of clutch quarterbacking from Eli and clutch kicks from veteran kicker Lawrence Tynes to get to this point.

The difference is that while the Pats earned home field advantage in the AFC Playoffs as the #1 seed with a 13-3 record, the 9-7 Giants, due to a slow start and tough NFC schedule, needed wins against Dallas and the Jets to get into the playoffs, and then to win three playoff match-ups against Atlanta, Green Bay and San Francisco to get to the Super Bowl.

All this makes predicting a winner a tough task, of course. The Giants defense is strong and physical, and Manning has an explosive offense he didn’t have four years ago (though one lucky catch by David Tyree late in SB XLII proved he didn’t need star power to win the big game and rob the Pats of a perfect 19-0 season). Meanwhile, the Patriots have one of the NFL’s best offenses and a once terrible but now decent defense to complement it.

Tom Brady (New England Patriots)The Giants’ path to this Super Bowl has more than a few people comparing them to last year’s champs, the Packers. It’s almost a worthy comparison, since the Packers were a #6 seed last postseason and caught no breaks along their ride to the big game much like the #4 seeded Giants this postseason.

But for that comparison to mean anything, they have to contend with a relentless Patriots offensive attack that helped Brady throw for over 5,200 yards this season (which in any other year would’ve set a new all-time single season record had Drew Brees not topped that mark with over 5,400 yards passing).

The best tight end in the NFL, New England’s Rob Gronkowski is no longer walking with a limp or with a boot on, so that is bad news for Tom Coughlin’s squad. He will most likely play Sunday. How effective he will be remains to be seen, but even if he has to catch and run with practically one good leg, he’ll still be harder to tackle down to the ground than most other guys in his position. The other NE weapons, TE Aaron Hernandez and wide receivers Wes Welker and Deion Branch are ready to go and make game-changing plays, whether Gronk is healthy or not.

Brady, of course, is the most important Patriot on the field and needs to at least perform somewhere between the 6 TD-outing against Denver and his admittedly sucky 0 TD and 2 INT game against Baltimore in order to give the team a real chance to win its fourth Super Bowl in five tries since the 2001 season. But Wes Welker and Branch could be x-factors, since the latter individual has the experience of winning two rings with the Patriots and a Super Bowl MVP award several seasons back.

About Charlie Doherty

Copy editor/content writer for Penn Multimedia; print/web journalist/freelancer, formerly for Boston Examiner, EMSI, Demand Media, Brookline TAB, Suite 101 and Helium.com; co-head sports editor & asst. music editor at Blogcritics Magazine; Media Nation independent newspaper staff writer, printed/published by the Boston Globe at 2004 DNC (Boston, MA); Featured in Guitar World May 2014. See me on twitter.com/chucko33, myspace.com/charlied, & Facebook.
  • Charlie

    Like I said at the end of my article and in the other two Patriots playoff articles this postseason, I’m very superstitious about predictions of my local sports teams now (in other words, the moment I write how I TRULY feel about the Pats, I’ll probably get burned. I know it’s ridiculous, but so far, the strategy has not failed me).

  • Arco Conservadora

    The key to victory for either team is pressuring the QB. If both Brady and Manning are allowed time to pass all day then the team with the ball last probably wins. Barring turnovers leading to points or big plays on special teams this is what the game hinges on as I see it.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Feeling a little Latino, are we, Archie? Didn’t know you spoke Spanish!

  • Arco Conservadora

    Si senor.

  • Steve

    Seems that everyone believes the Giants will win with their defense yet Tom Brady has been able to explode offensively against some pretty tough defenses this year. Could go either way, and that is fun to watch.

  • John Lake

    Great game. some dynamite work opening holes and protecting passers. Some great passing.
    Have to wonder what it would cost a receiver to intentionally pass up on a touchdown in favor of a field goal hope (in an indoor field) with a minute left on the game clock?

  • http://www.sportsreviews.com/ Angie Davis

    The game was great couldnt ask for a better one eigther. but i think things still go eigther way in the future.