Super Bowl XLVI is here! Well, it's 13 days away, but we now know it will be the New York Giants against the New England Patriots. The buildup to the big game in Indianapolis will be a marathon, not a sprint, so before we lock in official predictions, what's your initial impression of the matchup and which way are you leaning?
Giants have more balanceI'm sure I will vacillate on this a few hundred times, but in that dome, on a faster track, I like New York's pass rush. The Giants can generate pressure with a three- or four-man rush and play varied coverage schemes behind it. That's worked fairly well against the Patriots for others. New York has a potent enough passing game and a true stud quarterback. The G-Men will move the ball and can put up points in a shootout. I tend to think the better, more balanced defense will prosper in the end, so I'm leaning Giants ... for now.
The Pats will do just enough to winMy first thought is that the Giants are a much better offensive team than they've been in the past, while the Patriots' defense is much worse than in any previous year. But in the inevitable comparsions to Super Bowl XLII, I find which way I'm leaning right now.
Even though there are only a handful of the same players on both teams, the head coaches and quarterbacks are still the same. That's huge, especially since last time Tom Brady and New England were coming in undefeated, full of themselves and generally expecting to win without much difficulty. Instead, they had no answer for the Giants' pass rush. Eli Manning was still Peyton's little brother and New England didn't respect him at all, especially on the final drive of the game. Those scenarios won't be repeated. New England knows what its getting into this time around. Despite enjoying a prolific season, Eli has still been careless with the football. The 49ers should have had three interceptions against him, but instead banged into each other and let the ball fall to the ground. I don't see that happening with the Patriots, who know what the big stage is all about. I think we see a lot of points, but the Patriots' "situational defense" will allow them to win the game.
Expect SB XLVI to be a high-scoring affairI love the idea of a rematch of Super Bowl XLII, which shocked the football world when the undefeated Patriots fell to the Giants mostly because of a great Giant pass rush and the gutsy performance of Eli Manning. Sounds familiar, as the Giants bring the same formula to this Super Bowl and the Patriots come in on the arm of Tom Brady.
The Patriots did something on Sunday that I didn't think was possible, winning without a single touchdown pass from Tom Brady. The defense rose up and played solid against the run.
Both teams had top pass-catchers banged around in their respective championship games and most likely will need the two weeks to get ready for the Super Bowl. I expect at least 80 pass plays combined in Indy, and I expect the winner to score over 30 points.
The Patriots are playing with emotion, as they try and honor the memory of owner Robert Kraft's wife, who passed away this year. The Giants are on a roll, winning five straight games and playing a lot like the 2010 Green Bay Packers.
Giants are hot, but Pats are tough to beat twiceThe Giants are blazing hot and Eli Manning is playing every bit as well as Tom Brady, but it's just hard to see any team beating New England twice in a season.
I'd probably lean toward the Patriots right now because they're playing well in all areas, but the Giants are very capable of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at New England's expense yet again.
Giants survive a shootoutMy initial impression is Nerf football (i.e. both teams are going to put the ball up 50 times). Had the 49ers advanced, this game would have felt more like a chess match. But with the rules geared toward the passing game the way they are, I see Eli Manning and Tom Brady chucking the ball around the park all day. There will be no weather conditions inside of Lucas Oil Stadium, making it even more of an offensive game in an offensive year in a league totally supporting offense.
The Giants' front four gives them the advantage, at least from a two-weeks-out standpoint. Let's see how Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's injury is healing before we make any hard and fast prognostications. That said, I'm leaning towards the streaking Giants in this one. For now.