With the game a week away, that means 7 more days of hysteria for NY and NE, but not so much for anyone else. Anyhoo….
We expect Gronkowski to play. What’s the best way to stop him? The Radiers effectively limited his production by chipping him with one defender and putting someone else on him thereafter. One of the G-Men on the D-Line (I’m pretty sure it was Justin Tuck, but it might have been Osi) said that the way to beat the Pats’ air attack was to cut off the head of the snake. That’s Brady. The Giants have been pretty succcessful in pressuring Brady in their meetings, and they will need to do so next week as well. By kncoking Gronkowski off of his timing and putting pressure on Brady, it will force Brady to run through his progression faster than normal, and not give much time to look for “the Gronk.” It looks as if Antrelle Rolle and Chase Blackburn will be tasked with taming the beast. Of course, theis leaves Hernandez and Welker. Aaron Ross will probably draw Welker, and Michael Boley will likely target Hernandez. Lastly, there’s Chad Ocho Cinco. He’s been a forgotten man this year, but this might be the breakout game that he finally has this year. The Steelers were able to solve the mystery of the Pats offense, as were the Giants. That was three months ago, and things have changed. Still, the Pats have too many offensive weapons to be able to get shut down completely. The Giants must have an effective pass rush and disrupt Brady in order to have success.
The Pats’ running attack is not their strongest part. The again, it’s effective (sound familiar, Giants fans?). The Pats running backs have only had to have been good enough this year, and they set up Brady to get his receivers involved.
On special teams, the Pats’ kicker is Stephen Gostkowski. In the last Super Bowl between the two teams, Coach Belichick opted not to attempt a field goal on fourth down, and went for it instead. While it was a long FG attempt, it was certainly makeable. Maybe he didn’t have the confidence in Gostkowski back then. He does now. Gostkowski will boom the kicks out of the end zone unless he’s trying to lay it up, so don’t look for much in the way of a return game from the G-Men. On punts, neither team has lit it up in terms of returns. As long as there are no turnovers, I don’t see the punting game (in terms of returns) as being a deciding factor. The law of averages might break in this game, but I wouldn’t put money on it.
Next time, the Giants get the ball.