Super Bowl 2012 Predictions: Predicting the Top Statistical Performances
The Super Bowl often opens the door for a few breakout stars. Guys like Santonio Holmes made their name with big performances in the big game.
Who will bust out to glory with a monster statistical game in Super Bowl XLVI? I'll break down the guys who will lead the pack in the following categories: rushing yards, sacks, receiving yards, tackles and passing yards.
Here are the top five most likely stars in these categories.
5. Rushing Yards: Ahmad Bradshaw
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Ahmad Bradshaw has been highly effective this season when he's been healthy. He runs well around the edges, and when he breaks a tackle he can turn on his speed to get up the field.
Brandon Jacobs has had a down year, so Bradshaw figures to get more carries throughout the big game. In the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers, Bradshaw had 20 carries for 74 yards. Jacobs only had five carries for 13 yards.
Expect to see Bradshaw early and often against the New England Patriots. The Giants like to have a nice mix of running plays to open up plays downfield for their receivers. Bradshaw will get the rock frequently, and his blocking and receiving skills will keep him on the field.
From the Patriots' side of things, it's doubtful that BenJarvus Green-Ellis will generate a ton of yards. Their change-of-pace back, Danny Woodhead, is more of a situational guy. The Patriots just don't rely on their running backs to get a lot of offense. Their tight ends and receivers will rack up more yards.
Look for Bradshaw to be the statistical beast at running back. Something like 115 yards will be in the cards for him for the day.
4. Sacks: Justin Tuck
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The Giants' defensive end Justin Tuck had an off year statistically in 2011. He missed a few games due to injury and didn't rack up the numbers that he has in the past.
His 1.5 sacks on the 49ers' Alex Smith in the NFC Championship Game was an impressive performance from the seven-year veteran.
Look for Tuck to continue his postseason surge against the Patriots. He will find success against the Patriots' offensive line and will be able to bully his way to a couple sacks.
Vince Wilfork has played like he's on fire the past few games for the Patriots. He is an absolute terror coming up the middle. He will be the sack leader for the Pats, but Tuck should slightly outpace him.
3. Receiving Yards: Rob Gronkowski
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The Patriots are a "pass first" team on offense. Tom Brady loves his dual tight end threats Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, and look for them over the middle constantly.
It's tough to predict which of the "big three" targets for the Patriots (throw Wes Welker in there with the two tight ends) will get the most yards. But Gronkowski has been the most consistent threat all season and he has been dominant in the playoffs so far.
The Giants have a nice receiving tandem in Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Both of those guys can break out for deep plays and have fantastic speed and cutting ability.
The Giants balance on offense will mean that Gronkowski will be able to pile up more yards (think in the neighborhood of 120 total yards) through the air than those guys, however.
2. Tackles: Jerod Mayo
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The Patriots' fourth-year linebacker is a tackling machine. He will get plenty of chances to make hits on the Giants' running backs and tight ends as Eli Manning probes the middle of the field to try to churn out yards.
Mayo is all over the field like mayonnaise on a club sandwich. He wraps up well and often leads the Patriots in tackles.
The Giants have a bit of a shaky secondary, but look for the Giants to spread their defensive playmaking across a variety of players.
1. Passing Yards: Tom Brady
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It's hard to imagine one of the most prolific passers in the NFL not gaining the most yards through the air this Sunday.
Tom Brady always seems to know when the pressure is coming and can fit the ball into incredibly tight spots to move down the field. He'll be able to hit his talented tight ends and find Welker underneath. In addition, the wily Deion Branch will find enough separation to catch a few passes to move the chains.
Manning has been spectacular lately. It's hard to imagine him not having a good game as well. But as with the receiving yards category, Manning's statistics will be hurt by the Giants' more balanced attack.
Expect Brady to have over 350 yards through the air. Manning will be close behind and I predict that he and his team will be able to eke out the victory despite his worse statistical showing.