The stage is set for a rematch that many thought wouldn’t happen, but here it is. On February 5, the New York Giants will touch down in Indianapolis to take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. And as fans get ready for the big showdown everyone is wondering will Tom Brady avenge his perfect season being stripped away by the Giants in 2008?
In case you forgot, the Patriots were on the road to a perfect regular and post season as they reached Super Bowl XLII. Patriots where the fan favorite predicted to win by significant numbers against a struggling offense, but the Giants ended up pulling one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history. Super Bowl MVP QB Eli Manning stunned the undefeated Patriots 17-14 leaving them heartbroken, and with an 18-1 record.
Now fast forward four years later for a rematch; the question remains will it end the same way for Brady? Looking at both offenses and defenses a lot stands out. One thing that is haunting the Patriots is injuries.
Patriots injury report is a long one with TE Rob Gronkowski struggling with a left ankle injury suffered in the AFC Championship game. TE Aaron Hernandez and OT Nate soldier are also suffering from concussions, while CB Kyle Arrington has a foot injury.
Still regardless of injuries, the Patriots have the ability to pull out a win. Chad Ochocinco’s chances of being active for the Super Bowl all depends on the progression of Gronkowski and Hernandez who have been limited in practice. Ochocinco could add to the Patriots deep threat, where Brady can launch the ball down the field, and/or throw a quick slant to WR Wes Welker if needed. Everyone knows what Brady can do he has displayed it all season and carried it into the playoffs.
Brady did note that he didn’t play his best game versus the Baltimore Ravens, and we await to see if he will live up to his potential going against the Giants aggressive defensive players like Jason Pierre-Paul.
In football it comes down to defense; defense wins games, and the same proved true four years ago. To put things in perspective, Giants DE Justin Tuck put it the best, “It’s Our D-line vs. their O-line.” For the Giants to win this game they must put pressure on Tom Brady.
Tuck played a big factor in Super Bowl XLII sacking Brady twice and forcing a fumble, if they can continue to get pressure on him they will have a better chance of putting the ball back in QB Eli Mannings hands. When that happens, the Patriots defense has an even bigger dilemma.
Manning has been favoring two WR’s and has had great success with them. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks are a dynamic duo that has been dominant in the post season. It seems that when one is in double coverage the other is free to catch anything thrown his way.
One crucial thing the Patriots defense needs to do in order to win this game is force Eli Manning to run the ball as oppose to throwing it. The Giants have yet to establish a solid run game in the play offs, for good reason, going against some of the best defenses in the league. It is in their best interest to run the ball a high number of carries to help keep Brady’s time on the field limited.
Ironically, stopping the run has been the Patriots strength as they managed to shut down the running game for both the Ravens and Denver Broncos, so it will be a challenge for both sides.
One important factor that will determine the outcome of this game is how both quarterbacks handle mental pressure. Although it may be hard, do not bring thoughts of the 2008 Super Bowl to the 2012 Super Bowl. This is not new territory for either quarterback, but the outcome of the game is.
Now going for a winner is tough to call, but Eli Manning and the Giants are more than capable of keeping Brady away from his fourth ring. The Giants are once again the underdog, and with the talent on their team will once again rise up the winners of the Vince Lombardi Trophy.