By Kyle Soppe
Yes, I realize that this feels eerily similar to the 2007-2008 season, where the Giants defeated the Patriots in the Super Bowl. But the result will be different this time around, and let me tell you why by disproving some fallacies of this years rematch.
Statement: How can you pick against Eli Manning? In 2012 it’s pretty simple, you can’t spell elite without Eli.
Rebuttal: It is true that Eli Manning has had a great season that resembles his older brother. But that doesn’t change the fact that he is the second best quarterback in this game. On the season, Tom Brady has thrown for eight more touchdowns despite playing in one game less. Not only has Brady had a better 2011-2012 season, his past achievements (Three Super Bowls) speak for themselves.
Statement: The Giants have the best trio of wide receivers in the NFL. Even if you like Brady more than Manning, the Giants receiving core is good enough to overcome the difference.
Rebuttal: By definition the Giants have a great receiving core, but I’m more worried about pass catchers. Statistically speaking, the combination of Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker, and Aaron Hernandez has been superior compared to Victor Cruz, Mario Manningham, and Hakeem Nicks. The Patriots combined for 3,806 yards and 33 touchdowns and 16 regular season games, while the Giants accounted for 3,261 yards and 20 scores.
Statement: Rob Gronkowski certainly had a great year, but that was at full strength. The All Pro tight end has missed practice the last two weeks with a high ankle sprain and cannot possibly be the same force he has been all season.
Rebuttal: Valid point but Gronk isn’t like most. The physical specimen brings back memories of Terrell Owens in 2004 when playing with a fractured fibula. TO received a cortisone shot and was the best receiver on the field as he caught nine balls for 122 yards. This injury may keep Gronkowski from being 100% , however, if the past has taught us anything, doctors have the ability to ‘hide’ an injury in a one game season. Brady will continue to look for Gronkowski and he should have a TO-esque game on Sunday.
Statement: The Giants are streaking right now, reminiscent of the Packers 2010-2011 run. They struggled early in the season but have been unbeatable in the last six weeks.
Rebuttal: I’ve got two issues with this train of thought. First, the Patriots had won 18 straight games previous to being defeated by these Giants in the 2007 Super Bowl. No team has ever been hotter than 18 consecutive wins in the history of the NFL. Second, the Patriots could be considered the hotter of the two teams heading into Sunday’s game. They have rattled off ten consecutive wins and while the Giants have recorded more style points, this isn’t the BCS and that doesn’t help.
Statement: Julian Eldeman played quarterback in college and receiver first few years in NFL; What is he doing playing defensive back for the Patriots? One of the Giants studs will create a mismatch and exploit this weakness all night.
Rebuttal: Eldeman guarding receivers is far from ideal and obviously not how Bill Belichick drew it up. But I trust “The Hoodie” to put his utility man in a position to succeed as a result of two weeks of preparation. Recall, that the Patriots won Super Bowls with Troy Brown playing on both sides of the ball. Plain and simple Belichick doesn’t get out-coached and will find a way to make the Eldeman experiment work.
Silly Stat: Make sure to watch the coin toss this year as the NFC has won 14 straight. If this trend continues, the Patriots are in an even better position to win, as the AFC has won nine of those 14 Super Bowls.
Soppe Score: The Brady/Belichick era earns a fourth ring with a 34-24 victory.