It’s all come down to this. The New York Giants verses New England Patriots for Super Bowl XLVI. It will be a battle between two big-name quarterbacks, Eli Manning of the Giants, and Tom Brady of the Patriots.
These two men and these two teams have a history with one another.
Most of you are thinking this will be a rematch of Super Bowl XLII where the Giants squeaked by the Patriots to win 17-14. It does seem like a very similar situation as the Giants are the underdog again, and the Patriots are coming off another great season.
So why will it be any different this time?
First, that Super Bowl was four years ago and even though a lot of the players that played in that game are still on the team, both teams have changed. So, it really isn’t a rematch of Super Bowl XLII. Rather, it is a rematch of Week 9 this season where the Giants beat the Patriots 24-20 on a game-winning touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Jake Ballard with 15 seconds left in the game. Clearly, the Giants are capable of beating the Patriots, but why are they still the underdog?
The Patriots success lies in their offensive talent and consistency. The Patriots have excelled and lived off their pass game. More specifically, their success has been a result of the connection of Brady to tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. They have combined for 169 catches for 2,237 yards and 24 touchdowns on the season.
Against the Giants, they caught 12 passes for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Giants haven’t proven that they can stop tight ends as they rank 28th overall against them. However, Gronkowski did injure his ankle in the AFC championship game. His health changes day to day, but says he will play.
On the other side of the ball, the Patriots have struggled all season with their pass defense as they rank second to last in the league, giving up an average of 294 yards per game. This causes some serious worries for the Patriots as Manning has been playing some of his best football this post season.
In fact, Manning has averaged 308 yards a game to go along with 8 total touchdowns in the last three games, with only 1 turnover.
Inconsistency best describes the Giants. With a regular-season record of 9-7, the Giants had to win their last two games to even make it into the playoffs. As a team, the Giants’ Achilles’ heel seems to be turnovers. That is particularly unfortunate for them since the Patriots are tied for third best in the league this year for forcing turnovers.
Then again, the only teams better at forcing turnovers than the Patriots in the regular season were the Packers and the 49ers. Still, they both lost to the Giants in the postseason. When the Giants are on, they can’t be beaten. They’ve been on the entire postseason so far. The question is whether they will be on next Sunday.
The last factor you have to consider is motivation.
The Giants will be writing the last chapter of their underdog story and proving to everyone that they are worthy. Eli Manning will continue to prove and gain more legitimacy to his status as an elite quarterback.
However, I can assure you that the Patriots have not forgotten about the Super Bowl XLII loss or even more recently, their Week 9 loss. Playing inspired football in honor of owner Robert Kraft’s wife’s death, the Patriots want this one more than ever.
On stats, this game is almost dead even and is hard to pick a winner. It will be a battle of Manning vs. Brady for the Lombardi Trophy.