Super Bowl XLVI: 5 Reasons Why the New York Giants Will Beat the Patriots
It may not have been the matchup most people wanted, but it's the one we got.
Moaning and groaning aside, all one needs to do is dip back four years into the history books for a little reminder that these two teams delivered one of the best Super Bowls in recent history.
The result of Super Bowl XLII was certainly a shock to many in Patriots nation, as a win would have made the case for their team being arguably the greatest in NFL history. The Giants, however, had an Empire State-sized monkey wrench ready to stifle any such talk.
Though I doubt this game will hinge on something as flashy as David Tyree's miracle grab, it should prove to be yet another great showdown between the beasts of the Northeast.
Someone has to win, though.
With that in mind, here are five reasons why I think New York will best New England in Super Bowl XLVI.
This Is a Battle Tested Giants Team
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The Giants didn't cake-walk through the 2011-2012 season.
Not only did they open a season with a loss to Washington in Landover, MD on September 11th, they hit a rough four game skid in the middle of the season that had many people questioning if the Giants would be a playoff team at all.
Winning three of their last four games, however, was good enough to get them an invite to the postseason.
It was much the same for the G-men in 2007 when Eli Manning lead the Giants to a very unlikely playoff run and on an eventual collision course with a juggernaut Patriots team. It was New York's bruising, unrelenting mentality that won them the Lombardi trophy that year (David Tyree and his helmet had something to do with that, too). This team seems to subscribe to a similar philosophy.
Bad news for New England.
Eli Manning has been battered and nearly ripped to shreds on countless occasions this year and yet has managed to captain this team far beyond where anyone expected them to go.
If this comes down to both teams within a touchdown and a battle of wills late in the game, expect the Giants to relish the moment.
New York Sports Some Very Good Receivers
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They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
Or, in this case: 197 receptions, 3,251 yards and 20 touchdowns.
The Giants had to rely almost solely on Eli Manning's arm this season as they ranked at the bottom of the league barrel in rushing yards per game with 89.2.
Big things have been expected of Hakeem Nicks since he was drafted out of North Carolina but Victor Cruz is another story altogether.
Cruz went off this year to the tune of 82 receptions and over 1.500 yards receiving. Those would be considered monster numbers for anyone, let alone an off-the-radar guy out of D1-AA UMass. Cruz has shown that he is not only sure-handed, but also deceptively fast in and out of his routes.
This news is all the more welcome considering Mario Manningham has had a less than productive year with only 39 receptions and 523 yards on the season. Manningham has the pedigree in this, his fourth year out of Ann Arbor, to make a difference. However, if he's relegated to third wheel at this point, there are much worse people to be backing up than Nicks and Cruz.
It also doesn't hurt having a large, change-of-pace target in tight end Jake Ballard. Ballard, a first year man out of Ohio State, chipped in 604 yards on the year and gives Eli Manning a little bit of relief on the rare occasion that Cruz or Nicks is bottled up further down field.
With Eli healthy, the Giants have more than enough firepower to keep the Patriots gassed for four quarters.
Have You Seen Their Pass Rush?
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It's widely believed that to beat Tom Brady, one needs to step up and smack him hard early in the game.
I think the Giants have what it takes to do just that.
Jason Pierre-Paul. Justin Tuck. Osi Umenyiora. These names are synonymous with things both feared and respected.
Between the three of them, the Giants defense has charted 30.5 sacks on the season.
Granted, the Patriot's line does a very good job of keeping Brady's jersey clean, as he's worked his way to another monstrous season with 5,235 yards through the air. But the Giants strength isn't based on sheer size, but rather athleticism. The combination of speed and quickness that makes up their pass rush and the frequency with which they'll undoubtedly attack Brady will be very difficult to plan against.
With less time to hang in the pocket and go through his progressions, Brady will be forced to make quick throws and as we've seen in the past, this does not always yield the best outcome for the Patriots offense.
Pierre-Paul, Tuck, and Umenyiora will show up in Indy ravenous. Here's hoping that New England's front five eat their Wheaties.
What About Rob Gronkowski?
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One of the best parts of the Patriot's offense this season was watching Rob Gronkowski try to one-up Jimmy Graham for the league's most talented tight end.
Gronkowski was the yin to Wes Welker's yang and helped keep opposing defenses spread thin in an effort to stop New England's aerial onslaught. At 6'6" and with freakish athletic ability, "Big Rob" was able to post a 90 reception, 1.327 yard season. Most receivers would kill for numbers like those, let alone tight ends.
An ankle injury in New England's AFC championship game versus the Ravens made Patriot nation reel, however. Signs pointed to the positive as Gronkowski walked off the field but there are certainly questions about his durability heading into the Super Bowl.
If Rob Gronkowski is limited or—worse yet—can't play, it forces Tom Brady to rely on Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Dion Branch. While all good options, the dynamic that Gronkowski provides the offense when he's in make the Patriots that much more of a touchdown machine.
Add that to the Giant's pass rush and the potential havoc they could wreak in the Pats' backfield, and the likelihood for Brady to get rattled and possibly commit a few mistakes looms a little bit larger.
No, the Giants secondary did not put up great numbers this season. Yet that seems to matter little to a team this poised in the post-season.
Just ask Antrel Rolle.
Eli Manning Has Proven He Can Win When It Counts
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Eli Manning has taken his share of criticism. Much like Joe Flacco, many have wondered if he is really one of the elite quarterbacks in the game.
Now, Eli actually has a Super Bowl ring. Flacco does not. This, I get.
But the comparison lies in Eli's ability to play inconsistently and not pull through on late game drives or come through in clutch situations.
After watching last week's game against San Francisco, I think we can lay to rest the assumption that Eli Manning is not a tough guy and can't hang in there and take a beating.
As I said before, a big part of the Giants' success in Super Bowl XLII was their ability to keep firing back and wearing down the Patriots. They certainly weren't as talented across the board in 2008, but they had no problem with walking up to the bigger guy and smacking him in the face.
The same holds true in 2012.
The Patriots are still a more talented team and Tom Brady is still one of the very best in the game. But if it's redemption New England is looking for, I don't think they'll find it in Indianapolis. History tends to repeat itself and a Giants team of similar makeup fought their way through the wildcard and ended up in Arizona for a February date with the 18-0 Patriots.
This Giants team has the same fire as the team from four years ago, only now there's a little more talent to go along with it.
I predict a party in Manhattan.