Well, here we are again. Tom Brady and the Patriots take on Eli Manning and the Giants. Their 2008 match-up was probably one of the most exciting match-ups in Super Bowl history. And we may get to relive it. The 2012 Super Bowl is lining up just like the one back in 2008. In ’08 the Giants Defensive lineman dominated the Patriots offensive lineman, and they constantly harassed Patriots’ QB Tom Brady; while Eli Manning picked apart the Patriots secondary. The question is, what Giants wideout will come up with a miracle catch to continue the game winning drive?
Enough about the last time these two teams matched up in the NFL Championship game. Let’s take a look at my two big factors in this game:
Eli Manning and Victor Cruz vs. The Patriots Secondary:
Eli Manning had a solid year as he threw for 4,933 yards with 29 touchdowns and 16 picks (a Passer Rating of 92.9). The younger Manning also spent a lot of time lying on the turf this year, as he was sacked 28 times. His play also received a boost from a very solid group of youngwide receivers led by the explosive Victor Cruz. Cruz was go-to guy when the Giants needed a big play, his nine TDs and 1,536 yards are the most of any Giants wideout.
The Patriots defensive secondary was their defensive “strength”. If you could call 317.8 yards a game a team’s strength. Despite the ridiculously high number of yards, that was the second fewest yards allowed per game by any team in the NFL. Since the Patriots can’t stop the run (110.2 yards a game, good for 20th in the league), they are going to have to force Eli Manning into throwing into tight windows.
If the Patriots give the Giant’s wide receivers space and time, they are screwed. Manning will sit in the pocket and pick them apart. If the Patriots secondary covers the wide receivers well, and force Manning into throw it into tight windows. Then the Patriots can get interceptions and this game becomes really easy for Tom Brady and their offense.
Tom Brady vs. The Giants D-line
Last time these two teams met in the Super Bowl, Brady spent a lot of time on the move and the turf. The Giants D-line is going to need to do the same thing on Sunday. They need to harass Brady and force him to make stupid decisions under pressure. Fortunately for the Giants, they have been getting to the opposing team’s QB a lot, during the 2011 season (they had 48 sacks).
Tom Brady needs to be able to stay upright and mobile. He also needs to get the ball off. Brady cannot afford to be hit as much as he during the regular season (he was sacked 32 times!). If Brady cannot stay mobile, the Giants will have a huge advantage. The defense can disrupt the offensive flow of the Patriots, getting the ball to Eli and his receivers.
Neil’s prediction: Having pretty much avoided the hype leading up to the Super Bowl, I mainly have to make this prediction based off of my memories of the regular season and my above key points. I believe that the Giants D-line gets to Brady and gets to him a lot. Brady gets sacked three times and throws two picks. While Manning has a rough start but gets on track after a long TD pass to Hakeem Nicks. 35-31 and Eli earns one more ring than his brother Payton.
Victor prediction: Since I care about neither team, my prediction is quite unbiased. I think the Giants will be able to put pressure on Tom Brady and cause Brady to throw ineffective passes. Eli Manning will have some troubles but ultimately, he’ll play a better game than Brady and the Giants will prevail. I give no official score because I don’t feel like it.