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Ten things to consider before Super Bowl XLVI kicks off

When I worked for the Oakland Raiders, we played the 2002 AFC Championship Game on a Sunday and Super Bowl XXXVII the next Sunday. Seven days between two huge games was too short. As a team, we needed more time to recover physically and mentally. Had we had two weeks to prepare, things might have turned out differently for us against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; but on the short week, we were toast.

The one silver lining about the short week is there was less time to overkill storylines. I'd much rather have less time to deal with annoying questions about, say, Rob Gronkowski's ankle, Eli Manning's elite status or Tom Brady's place in history. None of that matters. The most important factor is that the game is played well, and this one will be (... in part because of the two-week preparation period).

As we get ready for Super Bowl XLVI, here are 10 things on my mind:

1. This game cannot be a 50-pass game for the Patriots. I am anxious to see how they plan to run the ball out of spread formations.

2. I think the Patriots have to use running back Stevan Ridley in this game. They will need his speed and quickness to make plays.

3. All this chatter about Patriots corner/receiver Julian Edelman covering Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz is not realistic. Edelman might be a part of a double coverage, but never alone. The Pats always doubled Cruz in the Week 9 game.

4. I am excited to see if Giants center David Baas and guards Kevin Boothe and Chris Snee can handle the front of the Patriots. All the talk about the Giants' defensive line dominating the game has overshadowed how well Vince Wilfork and the Pats' defensive line has played. Don't believe me? Ask the Ravens.

5. The Giants have struggled with two-minute defense all season, including the first game against the Pats. In that Week 9 bout, New England scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter and should've had three points at the end of the first half, but Stephen Gostkowski pulled a 27-yard field goal. This element of the game will be critical in determining the winner.

6. Can the Giants cover Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez? He is really the most explosive player on the Patriots. When Hernandez is in the backfield, he is hard to handle because he has great quickness to run option routes.

7. Deon Grant played really well for the Giants in Week 9. Can he do it again?

8. Bill Parcells always loved a trick play in a big game. I am excited to see which one of Parcells' disciples -- Bill Belichick or Tom Coughlin -- will use a gadget Sunday.

9. Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks' absence in Week 9 allowed the Patriots to double-team Victor Cruz. But with Cruz playing in this game, Devin McCourty will have to play his best game of the season one-on-one against Nicks. McCourty bites on double moves, so expect the Giants to exploit this.

10. I cannot imagine Brady playing badly two games in a row, which is why I am going with the Patriots in a really close game, 27-24. I think it will be decided on the final drive.

Enjoy the game. Indy has been a great Super Bowl town. I hope we all get to have another one here.

Follow Michael Lombardi on Twitter @michaelombardi

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