Super Bowl Pre-Game

Posted: February 3, 2008 in Other Sports News

SUPER BOWL XLII from Phoenix, Arizona Sunday February 3, 2008

New York Giants vs. New England Patriots

The dynasty known as the New England Patriots appear ready to take their 4th championship in 7 years and finish their historic run by going a perfect 19-0. But here’s something to think about before they do, because they will, don’t get me wrong. The Giants remind me a lot of the Patriots team that made it to Super Bowl XXXVI to play the St. Louis Rams. A lot of people thought they should have handed the Lombardi trophy to the Rams. Coming off of the year they were knocked out of the playoffs by the Saints, they went off on a tear that season finishing 14-2 and making it all the way to the big game. The Pats, however, had other things in mind as they took that game away 20-17.

Just a little sidenote: One of the Rams two loses came against the Saints. The Saints were down 31-3 at halftime. Kyle Turley got livid in the locker room and the Saints came out in the second half and pounded the Rams with every carry and forced them into fumblitus. The Saints ended up beating the, then 7-0, Rams 34-31. The Saints lost their second meeting with the Rams on Monday Night Football.

Pre- Game Analysis:

Patriots lead series 5-3

(Home Team in CAPS)2007-Patriots 38, GIANTS 35

2003-PATRIOTS 17, Giants 6

1999-PATRIOTS 16, Giants 14

1996-Patriots 23, GIANTS 22

1990-Giants 13, PATRIOTS 10

1987-GIANTS 17, Patriots 10

1974-Patriots 28, GIANTS-x 20

1970-Giants 16, PATRIOTS 0

COACHING: Bill Belichick vs. Tom Coughlin

Boston College fans remember how innovative Coughlin was, when his mere presence and BC’s constantly shifting formations gave the Eagles a leg up on virtually every team in the Big East. Coughlin has simplified things in New York, employing a power running game and an attacking 4-3 defense. With Tiki Barber retired and Jeremy Shockey injured, Coughlin now has the full respect of his team. What he doesn’t have — because no one does — is Belichick’s top-to-bottom domination of the game. Belichick built a roster in his image, something Coughlin has not been able to do, and knows exactly what buttons to push and when to push them. The Super Bowl is his stage.

EDGE: Patriots

QUARTERBACK: Tom Brady [stats] vs. Eli Manning

Now in his fourth season, Manning was in danger of becoming the guy most famous for being Peyton’s little brother. The perception of him has changed markedly over the last month, however, starting with his four-touchdown effort against the Patriots. Since that game, Manning has abandoned the reckless throws downfield that led to 20 interceptions and has instead morphed into a poor man’s version of Brady, taking what’s there underneath. He has been outstanding in the playoffs, throwing four touchdowns and no interceptions. Were it not for seven drops against the Packers in frigid Green Bay, his postseason QB rating would be well over 100. Notice, however, that we called him a poor man’s Brady. No one in history can touch the real thing, who’s due for a monster game to close out a monster season.

EDGE: Patriots

RUNNING BACKS: RB Laurence Maroney [stats], RB Kevin Faulk [stats], FB Heath Evans [stats] vs. RB Brandon Jacobs, RB Ahmad Bradshaw, RB Reuben Droughns, FB Madison Hedgecock

When the Giants upset the high-flying Bills in Super Bowl XXV, they did it by taking the air out of the ball. The Giants rode Ottis Anderson to a Bowl-record 40:33 of possession. These Giants boast an excellent two-headed running attack in the bruising Jacobs and speedy Bradshaw, an undrafted free agent out of Marshall who didn’t even carry the ball until Week 12 but is the Giants’ leading rusher in the postseason with 163 yards. The only problem with trying to jam the ball down the throats of the Patriots is that defensive end Richard Seymour [stats] has rounded back into form, giving the Pats an outstanding front three with Pro Bowler Vince Wilfork [stats] and Ty Warren [stats]. On the other side, Maroney has morphed into a marquee back, while Faulk is practically unstoppable swinging out of the backfield. This one’s a tossup.

EDGE: Even

RECEIVERS: WR Randy Moss, WR Wes Welker, WR Donte’ Stallworth, WR Jabar Gaffney [stats], TE Benjamin Watson [stats], TE Kyle Brady vs. WR Plaxico Burress, WR Amani Toomer, WR Steve Smith, WR David Tyree, TE Kevin Boss

With all due respect to Burress, who believes his receivers group is as talented as the Pats’, the Giants aren’t nearly as dynamic. The only member of the group who could play for the Pats is Burress, who looked like the best receiver in football in the NFC title game. The 6-foot-5, 232-pounder is a definite matchup problem and corners Ellis Hobbs [stats] and Asante Samuel [stats] will need safety help over the top. On the other side, the Patriots haven’t set a host of scoring records because their receivers can’t get open. Typically an outstanding playoffs performer, Moss has thus far been limited to two catches. His last big play came in the regular-season finale against the Giants when he exploited a blown coverage for the winning 65-yard score. Moss was able to beat double teams earlier in the year. The key will be getting off the line cleanly. If he does, the Pats can expect to add a big play or two to Welker’s yeoman work underneath.

EDGE: Patriots

OFFENSIVE LINE: LT Matt Light [stats], LG Logan Mankins [stats], C Dan Koppen, RG Stephen Neal, RT Nick Kaczur vs. LT David Diehl, LG Rich Seubert, C Shaun O’Hara, RG Chris Snee, RT Kareem McKenzieThe big question for the Giants is the status of Seubert, a standout in the Mankins mold who sprained his knee against the Packers in the NFC title game. If he’s healthy, the Giants don’t have a more active lineman. If he’s not, the limited Grey Ruegamer gets the call. This is one area where the Patriots [team stats] hold a clear advantage. Light, Mankins and Koppen are Pro Bowlers. The Giants probably rate a notch below their Patriots counterparts straight across the board. O’Hara, in particular, is going to have his hands full with nose tackle Vince Wilfork [stats], who’s better than he played against the Giants in the season finale. The Patriots gave up a good deal of pressure the first time the teams met, but they were without Neal, Kaczur and tight end Kyle Brady, who’s basically a third tackle. With a fully healthy line, Brady should have time to throw.EDGE: Patriots

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DEFENSIVE LINE: DE Ty Warren [stats], NT Vince Wilfork, DE Richard Seymour [stats], DE Jarvis Green, DT Rashad Moore vs. DE Osi Umenyiora, DT Justin Tuck, DT Barry Cofield, DE Michael Strahan, DT Fred Robbins

It’s too bad these groups couldn’t square off head-to-head, because they’re about as evenly matched as they come, even though they play markedly different styles. The Giants’ 4-3 starts with Umenyiora, Tuck and Strahan, three ferocious pass rushers who rely on speed, power and both, respectively. Strahan doesn’t look like he’s even remotely lost a step at age 36 and Tuck is a mini-Seymour who can play anywhere on the line. The Giants ask their linemen to get upfield and after the quarterback. The Patriots ask theirs to control their running lanes and open things up for the linebackers. One area to watch will be Wilfork in the middle. Shaun O’Hara is a clever center, but if Wilfork can occupy two and three blockers, which is required on every down when he’s at his best, the Giants could have a rough go of running the ball.

EDGE: Even

LINEBACKERS: OLB Adalius Thomas, ILB Tedy Bruschi [stats], ILB Junior Seau, OLB Mike Vrabel vs. OLB Kawika Mitchell, MLB Antonio Pierce, OLB Reggie Torbor

The Patriots may boast the only All-Pro among this group in Vrabel, but the best player on either unit is probably Pierce, a sideline-to-sideline beast who found himself downfield on Randy Moss and lived to tell the tale in the first meeting. Pierce is strong and aggressive in a Ray Lewis sort of way, and should be New York’s most effective weapon against Kevin Faulk [stats]. The other two ’backers are decent blitzers, though Torbor will probably be the first man off the field when the Giants go nickel. The Patriots have received turn-back-the-clock performances from Bruschi and Seau, two veterans who could call it quits after the game. Bruschi, in particular, looked like his old self against the Chargers, diving to break up plays at the goal line and sticking his nose in there like the old days.

EDGE: Patriots

SECONDARY: CB Asante Samuel [stats], CB Ellis Hobbs [stats], S James Sanders [stats], S Rodney Harrison [stats], CB Randall Gay, S Brandon Meriweather vs. CB Corey Webster, CB Aaron Ross, FS Gibril Wilson, SS James Butler, CB Kevin Dockery, CB R.W. McQuarters

It’s not a good sign against a quarterback like Tom Brady [stats] when your two best corners are a banged-up rookie (Ross) and an undisciplined third-year man (Webster). Those two will have huge responsibilities on Sunday, with Ross taking Wes Welker in the slot and Webster asked to jam Randy Moss at the line of scrimmage. Webster has been outstanding in the postseason, although his slip against the Packers resulted in a 90-yard touchdown by Donald Driver. Safeties Wilson and Butler are solid and will be determined not to let Moss get behind them like he did on the game-winning 65-yarder in December. The Patriots should play better than they did the first time around, when Eli Manning threw four touchdowns. Expect either Harrison or Sanders to provide some help on Plaxico Burress over the top.

EDGE: Patriots

SPECIAL TEAMS: K Stephen Gostkowski, P Chris Hanson, KR Ellis Hobbs and PR Wes Welker vs. K Lawrence Tynes, P Jeff Feagles, KR Domenik Hixon, PR R.W. McQuarters

Neither kicker has a huge postseason track record, but let the record show that Gostkowski has made 9-of-10 career attempts, while Tynes is just 4-of-6 and needed three tries to beat the Packers in the NFC title game. Gostkowski also has a slightly bigger leg on kickoffs. The punters are pretty similar. Neither is going to crush one like San Diego’s Mike Scifres, but they’re excellent directionally and know how to pin returners on the sideline. As for the returners, Hixon burned the Patriots for a touchdown, but it was on a weird kickoff following a penalty; he caught it on the run at nearly the 30. The Patriots have a clear advantage with the younger, quicker Welker bringing back punts.

EDGE: Patriots

  1. Great blog!!!
    allways enjoy reading

    thanx for the time and effort

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