The combatants are determined. The New York Giants and New England Patriots are set to square off in Super Bowl XLVI, a rematch of four years ago.
Join me now as the Super Bowl gets its due. This is the Beer Lover’s Guide to Super Bowl XLVI.
Beer for Battle: Cambridge Brewing Big Man I.P.A. (6.8 ABV)
After finishing the regular season 13-3 and securing the first seed in the AFC, New England roughed up Denver 45-10 in the divisional round. They followed that up with a 23-20 nail-biter over Baltimore in the AFC championship.
Billy Cundiff’s missed 32-yard field goal sent the Patriots to their fifth Super Bowl in 11 years.
They are bringing the Big Man I.P.A. from Boston because their roster is loaded with playmakers. Tom Brady is always a threat, and it doesn’t hurt that he has a plethora of targets to throw to.
During the regular season, four Patriots players finished with over 900 receiving yards.
On the downside, Gronkowski suffered a high ankle sprain in the AFC championship and has missed significant practice time. If he is limited in the game or can’t play at all, another player may need to fill the void.
I can’t help but think Chad Ochocinco will make a memorable play or two. He wasn’t a big part of New England’s offense this season, but that fact makes me think Bill Belichick will spring a trap with him.
With the emotion of his father passing away recently, Ochocinco is a possible off-the-radar game-changer.
The Patriots’ defense has caught flak all season for its weakness against the pass. It’s a reasonable concern, considering their nearly 294 yards allowed per game through the air in the regular season.
But, the playoffs have been different.
The secondary gained confidence against Tim Tebow during the 45-10 rout, only allowing 136 passing yards. Granted, it came against a player not renowned for his throwing, but it was an improvement.
Though the Patriots allowed Joe Flacco to top 300 yards the following week, Sterling Moore prevented a go-ahead touchdown by Ravens WR Lee Evans late in the game.
Pundits can blast New England’s defense all day, but no one can take away their 10-game winning streak.
This is a big-time team that can make big plays. Will the Big Man I.P.A. get the job done?
Beer for Battle: New Jersey Beer Co. Weehawken Wee Heavy (8.3 ABV)
The Giants are taking a Scottish ale to Indianapolis to keep K Lawrence Tynes happy.
Tynes, a Scottish-born player, kicked the game-winning field goal in San Francisco on Jan. 22 to put the Giants back in the Super Bowl.
He has what it takes to break the hearts and muskets of the Patriots if things stay close, but there is still an entire game to be played.
The Giants looked like a question mark entering the playoffs with a 9-7 record. It was difficult for most to envision them winning in Green Bay during the divisional round, but they did just that—and in convincing fashion.
While stunning the top-scoring offense 37-20, the Giants’ defense intercepted Aaron Rodgers once and sacked him four times.
The Giants were probably in the Bay Area by the time it all set in for the Packers.
The NFC championship in San Francisco was a gritty, old-school defensive battle. Despite the mucky conditions, Eli Manning completed 32 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns.
WR Victor Cruz was the main benefactor, collecting 10 of those passes for 142 yards. Such production may be devastating to New England’s defense if the Patriots can’t come up with an answer.
The Giants defeated the Patriots, 17-10, in Super Bowl XLII, ending New England’s bid for a perfect 2007 season at the most crucial of times. The stars seem perfectly aligned for a vengeful return by New England, but I can no longer pick against the Giants.
They have beaten two very good teams on the road during the playoffs and have overcome greater adversity on the field.
New England may have a 10-game winning streak going, but the last team to defeat them was the New York Giants—in Foxborough no less.
I think the Giants have the psychological edge and will defeat the Patriots again.
If that happens, the debate will rage on about whether Eli Manning is a better quarterback than his brother, Peyton. It’s not for me to decide, but I’ll throw back a Weehawken Wee Heavy and listen to the debate.