HTTN’s predictions on North America’s biggest game of the year
-written by Geoff Lowe
As Super Bowl 46 gets closer, talk of “the rematch” continues to grow. For many, it’s hard to ignore the fact that these two teams met nearly four years ago in what turned into the biggest upset in Super Bowl history.
It’s even harder not to look at the parallels.
This season, as was the case back then, the Giants have limped into the playoffs and won three postseason games on the road. The Patriots boast explosive offense and the AFC’s best record. Once again, the Patriots are the favourites.
But this isn’t 2008, and there are striking differences in this Super Bowl match-up.
The Giants won in 2008 on the back of their dominant running game. They had more touchdowns (4) and rushing attempts (118) than any other team in that year’s playoffs.
This season the Giants have depended on Eli Manning’s arm. He threw for almost 5000 yards during the regular season and leads the playoffs in touchdowns (8) and passing attempts (123). He has also thrown the fewest interceptions.
The Patriots’ offense is just as dangerous as it was four years ago, but it works differently now. In 2008, the Pats predominantly used wide receivers and running backs in the passing game. Back then, it was all about Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Kevin Faulk.
Now they rely on their two tight ends. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez rank sixth and thirteenth in playoff receiving yards and are the Patriots’ top players.
Covering both is a nightmare match-up for any defense. However, if Gronkowski’s high ankle sprain limits his ability to run routes, the Giants’ defense will find it easier.
Keys to winning:
The Giants’ defense needs to get to Tom Brady. When Brady is uncomfortable in the pocket, he makes mistakes. The Giants sacked Brady five times and hit him nine times in 2008. The offense was thrown off rhythm and wasn’t effective.
Pressure on Brady is also the key to the Pats winning, or at least stopping it. If their offensive line protects Brady they’ll be hard to stop.
Both teams will avoid taking unnecessary chances because any mistake could change the outcome. So don’t expect a ton of points.
Eli Manning will get the better of the Patriots’ 31st ranked defense, throwing for more than 300 yards and at least two touchdowns. Brady will have similar numbers but will feel the heat from the Giants’ defense and throw one or two costly interceptions.
The Giants will take it, but it’ll be close.
New York Giants – 24
New England Patriots – 21
Super Bowl MVP – Victor Cruz
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