The Book of Eli: Part Two

 

 

Albert Raminfard

 

After an action-packed Championship Week­end, where both games were won mostly due to huge mistakes by each losing side’s special teams units, we will have the AFC Champion New Eng­land Patriots facing off against the NFC Cham­pion New York Giants. As a Giants fan, I may be a bit biased throughout this article, but I’ll leave that for you to decide.

I doubt that anyone predicted this as the Super Bowl matchup as late as Championship Weekend. Funny how it turned out that a Man­ning ended up playing in the Super Bowl in Indy, just not the one most would expect to be there at the start of the season. With both of these storied franchises coming together again, it is hard not to compare this postseason to that of the ’07 season (not that you haven’t heard that before). After some thought, here’s my prediction for the Super Bowl: Giants win, 27-23.

Why do I think the Giants will win? Well, let’s go over a few facts. The Giants defeated the Patri­ots in Super Bowl XLII, but with a bunch of luck (on the last drive they had several fourth down conversions, averted two near-picks by Asante Samuel and managed to have one of the most ri­diculous and amazing catches in Super Bowl his­tory). Luck will not be enough in this rematch, considering this time Tom Brady has nothing to lose and everything to gain. What would be more satisfying than tying the amount of Super Bowl wins that your childhood idol, Joe Montana, had, while getting revenge on the franchise that hand­ed you your first Super Bowl loss and prevented a season of perfection that seemed destined?

Then again, these teams are both very different than the teams that faced each other in that Super Bowl. The Patriots have only eight men remain­ing from that roster, including Brady, Wes Welker, Vince Wilfork, Logan Mankins and Stephen Gostkowski, while the Giants have 15 players re­maining including Eli Manning, Brandon Jacobs, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Corey Webster and Lawrence “Party” Tynes.

Why does this matter? Well, it provides just enough players to remember the feelings of old, while still providing 80-plus new players involved this year to make it a totally different game. It seems that this 9-7 Giants team is actually better than the one in ’07, while the Patriots seem worse, especially on defense. Eli Manning has been a con­sistent star and leader for the Giants offense, with help from the emergence of Victor Cruz and the return of Mario Manningham for the postseason. Meanwhile, the defensive rush has returned to its relentless form with Jason Pierre-Paul emerging as a Pro Bowler to take Michael Strahan’s spot, not to mention the improved secondary. The Patriots no longer have the deep threat of Randy Moss and their defense has suffered greatly since losing play­ers like Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi and Rich­ard Seymour, falling to No. 31 in the league. The only improvement for the Patriots is in Brady’s new weapons, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Her­nandez, who wreak havoc in the middle of the field for defenses due to their skill sets which make them so hard to match up against.

The road to the Super Bowl for these two teams was very different. The Giants have yet to lose a game since defeating the Jets in Week 16 and haven’t looked back. They have played many of the best teams in the league and are more than prepared for one last game. Worried about Gronk and Hernandez? Well, the Giants have played some of the best tight ends in the league: Dustin Keller, Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez, Jermichael Finley and Vernon Davis. The Patriots, on the other hand, have had quite the easy path. They had to face the mediocre Denver Broncos as a gift due to an upset (thanks, Demaryus Thomas!), then played a good Baltimore team and squeezed out a win on a missed field goal.

Are you worried about the Patriots offense? Just look at what happened to Green Bay. Al­though I don’t expect such a sloppy game from the Patriots, I also don’t see Brady being able to get out of the pocket and become his team’s rush­ing leader like Rodgers. He’s a sitting duck for the relentless, and now rested, Giants pass rush. The key for the Giants will be to limit big plays from Welker, Gronk and Hernandez, and put some pressure on the Patriots to try to run the ball on them to win. I don’t see a near league-worst de­fense stopping Eli Manning and one of the best receiving corps in the league and, to be honest, it is great to see one of the most clutch players in the league, if not the most, play a chess match against a Belichick gameplan.

I almost forgot about two of the most impor­tant people to this game: Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin, two of the most respected coaches in the league, and probably Hall of Famers. I’m more than excited to see how these two masters of the game will execute the proper gameplan for victory.

It’s great to see two franchises with such history face off. As a Giants fan and a fan of the game as a whole, I’m beyond excited for this matchup. Who knows if another player will step up à la David Tyree and Kevin Boss, or if it will come down to the final drive yet again. Earlier in the season, in Week 9, the Giants won in dramatic fashion on the final drive in a similar manner as to how they won the Super Bowl. I don’t think the Patriots have enough pieces in place to win this one. I sincerely feel that they are the worse team in this matchup, regardless of the fact that they boast a much bet­ter regular season record and are 3.5-point favor­ites. If they had a better defense, I may be more tempted to choose them. I wish the best of luck to all of the fans and gamblers out there, and hope­fully we’ll have some great commercials and a fun performance from Madonna and Nicki Minaj. It’s been a great season, and I doubt this Super Bowl will disappoint.

Contact Albert Raminfard at [email protected]