Well, the last picks of the season are in, and the majority of our friends at ESPN believe the New York Giants will defeat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. Now as we all know, the Giants perform much better with a chip on their shoulder, so I can’t say I am overly pleased that they are favored to win by most people “in the know”. Still, the Giants know the stakes and have been here before, and as long as they play their best, like they have all through the postseason, there is no reason they can’t win this one.
The biggest thing that the Giants absolutely cannot do is underestimate their opponent. It sounds ridiculous that anyone should underestimate the Patriots, of all teams, but the Giants have been a thorn in their sides for four years now. It’s a known thing that New England did not win a playoff game since losing Super Bowl XLII until this season. Then, in their first meaningful game together, the Giants defeated the Patriots on their home field. This marked the last time this season that the Pats have lost a game. Many, including players, will claim that the Giants are in their heads, and have their number. But the Giants cannot allow this mentality to cloud their preparation and playing, or they will lose this game. Tom Coughlin knows better, though, and will do everything he can to make sure his team does not fall into this trap.
New York will win this game the same way they have won all the others, with a high-scoring aerial attack, a hard-hitting defensive front, and few mistakes. So much of this game will fall on the two quarterbacks, and how they handle what will sure to be an endless amount of pressure. After that win in San Francisco, Eli has proven that no amount of pressure and no number of sacks will stop him from scoring. More than ever, he needs a turnover-free game. The Pats know how to exploit any mistake, so Eli needs to take care of that ball, as he has all season. The x-factor is the running game, because anything that can ease the pressure off Eli and the receivers will make a big difference.
The Giants defense has successfully held Tom Brady in check during their last three meetings. I include the loss at Giants Stadium to end the 2007 season because, by Brady’s standards at that time, it was not a strong performance. Knowing that Brady is familiar with this defense, they have to not only continue to pressure him, but also work to outsmart him. New England’s receivers, and especially their tight ends, will rip off major yardage if they are allowed to catch the ball, so it’s up to the line to prevent this from happening.
Mistakes are something that no team can commit and expect to win a game, especially of this magnitude. These teams, as they stand right now, are pretty evenly matched, so the winner could very well be determined by who makes the least number of mistakes. Just look at what happened in San Francisco. The Giants did not turn the ball over, but played smart, heads-up football to not only know when they had the opportunity to recover a muffed punt return, but they were able to score points off these plays. I don’t believe the Giants can count on such mistakes out of a team as mature as the Patriots, but they need to at least match their level by reducing their own mistakes.
I truly believe this Super Bowl will be one for the record books, with the Giants coming out on top for the second time in four years.