Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Super Bowl

Okay, I'm going to talk about the Super Bowl, and probably make my prediction by the time I'm done writing this.

There are three questions I feel need to be asked:

1) Who is the better team?
2) What reasons are there that the worse team could win?
3) How likely are they to happen?

Question number one is a very easy one to answer. The Patriots are the better team. It's impossible to not see that.

So that brings us to "what reasons are there teh Giants could win?"

I see two reasons.

1) Dumb luck. Things like a receiver gets hit while trying to make a catch, it happens to pop up in the air and right into another defesnive player's hands. A bad call at a bad time of the game in the wrong part of the field. A turnover inside the 10 on a punt return.

Clearly, this is not a good enough reason to pick the Giants. The luck could go the other way, and then we're looking at a very one-sided game.

2) Brady's health. This is no small factor, but also one that we have no idea what the answer is. What we do know is that he's not 100%. We also know, that if he plays the way he did in the AFC Championship Game, (3 interceptions), the Giants could definitely win the game.

Due to this, I see as the key matchup (by far), the Patriot Offensive Line versus the Giant Defensive Line. Both are very talented units.

None of this even matters if Eli Manning is not able to replicate his other postseason performances. He's done an excellent job of not being stupid. He needs to continue that.

What reasons could the Giant Defensive Line win this matchup?

Well, the Giants did a much better job of putting pressure on the QBs of their three playoff opponents in the second half than the first. That showed a great ability to adjust. Both teams have great coaching staffs that can make adjustments. In the second half of these games, the Giants, even when not getting sacks, had the quarterbacks on the ground often, taking some decent hits. The fact that these two teams played right before the playoffs began may mean the Giants can figure it out before half-time, maybe even as the game begins.

The fact is, Brady is the most important person in the game. If Brady is 100% healthy, the Giants have no better than a 10% chance of winning this game.

However, I'm guessing Brady is not healthy. The Giants will have to be bold, and blitz right out of the gate, and hope Brady doesn't beat them. Hope that his health is bad enough that he doesn't make it into a big play, and they continue to beat him up. If they do that, they can win, and will win.

If the Patriot offensive line is able to stop the Giant blitz and give Brady enough time, the Giants lose.

Here's hoping for a not-healthy Brady:

Giants 24
Patriots 20


Warren said...

I think it's probably wishful thinking that Brady isn't 100%. Bummer.

This might be consider sacrilege in Boston, but I think the Pats' offensive line has more to do with their success than Brady does. No individual player is probably as valuable as Brady (although Matt Light's damn good), but as a unit they're probably the biggest reason the team is 18-0. Brady's obviously a hell of a lot better than Eli Manning, but Manning would sure look a lot better with several seconds to make every throw.

I think the Giants have a better than 10% chance of winning even if Brady is healthy. Something like a 20% or 30% chance. This isn't because I think the Giants are a completely different team than they were in the regular season (I'm still not convinced), but simply that I don't think the Patriots really have a 90% chance of winning against any good team. I mean, they almost lost to the Ravens.

That said, of course the Pats should be (and are) considered huge favorites.

I may be a Texas homer (I can't believe I'd ever say that), but I can see Aaron Ross matching up pretty well against Randy Moss. Since the Giants' weakest link is their secondary, I think the key is going to be whether or not they can keep Moss in check without opening up huge holes for Welker (and Watson, Faulk and Gaffney) underdeath. The Jags did a great job against Moss but let Brady complete almost every single short pass.

As for the Giants' pass rush, they just need to be able to hurry Brady. I'm not sure they really need to get all that many sacks, but if they give him the kind of time that Jacksonville did, it's game over.

I love healthy Plaxico Burress.

My head says:
Pats 38
Giants 30

My heart says:
Giants 36
Pats 34

Sully said...

A few responses:

For what it's worth, Brady wasn't on the injury report today. That means nothing, because he has been on the injury report every week for three years, even when he's been completely healthy. I think he'll be 90% or so for the Super Bowl. He injured his ankle in the 2002 AFC Championship Game, missed the whole second half, and came back in the Super Bowl and won the MVP. He didn't deserve it, and his numbers weren't that great, but he also didn't have the same weapons/protection he has now. I think he'll play well.

I think most Pats fans agree that the O-line has had a huge impact on Brady and Moss' stats and the offense as a whole. Not that I pay *really* close attention, but they're the best O-line I've ever seen. I know the Giants D-line is very good, and they'll probably get to Brady a few times, but overall I think the Pats can handle them. And most people up here think Light is over-rated; I think the consensus is that he's maybe the 3rd or 4th best lineman on the team, and that he gets a lot of credit just because he's the left tackle. Personally, I think the best player is Light or Logan Mankins.

And I've seen/read people that know a lot more about this kind of stuff than I do give the Pats about an 80% chance of winning. The last time these two teams played it was pretty even (with both teams missing key players), and the difference, in my opinion, was the one pick that Manning threw in the second half (the last one he threw this season). The Pats won by 3 on the road. I feel like on a neutral site with the O-line healthy, they should win by more, but Eli's been awesome in the playoffs, so I still think it will be close.

I've been saying the Pats will win 30-27 all week, so I'll stick with that. They always play close Super Bowls. Some people think they've been saving themselves and will pull out all the stops to put tons of points on the board in this game, but that's easier said than done. 30's still a lot, I know, but I don't think it will be a blowout unless Eli self-destructs.

And am I the only one who's amused by the fact that the Pats could end the pre-season, regular season, and post-season with wins over the Giants? Given the New York-Boston thing and the Parcells/Belicheck connection, I would take way too much satisfaction from this. I need help.

One more thing - two non-Patriots who I used to dislike have impressed the hell out of me this post-season. One is loudmouthed Phil Rivers, playing pretty well on torn knee ligaments in the AFC Championship Game. And the other is whiny (at least, in his Steeler days) Plaxico Burress, who has also been playing hurt, and has been the best receiver in the playoffs. He's earned a lot of respect from me this month.

larrybird said...

If there is one team that is equipped to dethrone the 18-0 Patriots, it's the team they will face in the Super Bowl.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems the Pats lost a little of their momentum heading into the post-season. Instead of blowing opponents out, they were squeaking them out. Compared to the Giants who, even with there loss to New England the last game of the season, have been gaining momentum and have continued that run through the playoffs winning all their games on the road.

The Giants have the necessary ingredient to the Pats demise, pressure. I agree that Brady being injured is a great way to guarantee a Giants win, but if that's not the case, getting in Brady's face is the next best option. With Uminyora, Strahan and Tuck up front, along with a strong linebacker core, the Giants are able to pressure Brady. The majority of Brady's success this year has been the huge amounts of time he has been given in the pocket, if they can disrupt that, they can disrupt an perfect season as well.

Brady is coming off of his poorest performance of the year against the Chargers, throwing 4 interceptions. If he plays a similar game against the Giants, the Pats wont be able to recover.

If i were Tom Coughlin, I would sit Eli down and tell him 1 thing, "Don't turn it over". With the Giants "D" and no turnovers from Eli, the 1972 Dolphin's might still be left holding the only completely perfect season in NFL history.