Super Bowl 2012: 5 Reasons New England Patriots Have the Edge

Nick Kappel@@NickKappelAnalyst IIIFebruary 1, 2012

Super Bowl 2012: 5 Reasons New England Patriots Have the Edge

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    Super Bowl XLVI is just four days away. This means two things: a) I'm super excited, and b) there's plenty of time to dissect every angle of the NFL's biggest game of the year.

    Despite losing to the Giants in Week 9 (24-20), the numbers say the Patriots having the edge. 

    Here are a few reasons why...


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    This may come as a surprise, but the Patriots and Giants are fairly evenly matched on offense. Fact is, however, New England ranks ahead of New York in just about every offensive category—even if only by a slight margin. 

    Total Offense 

    • Patriots: 428 yards per game (second)
    • Giants: 385 yards per game (eighth)

    Scoring Offense

    • Patriots: 32 points per game (third)
    • Giants: 24 points per game (ninth)

    Passing Offense

    • Patriots: 317 yards per game (second)
    • Giants: 295 yards per game (ninth)

    Rushing Offense

    • Patriots: 110 yards per game (20th)
    • Giants: 89 yards per game (32nd)

Defense (Sort Of)

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    Ninety-two different teams have reached the Super Bowl. The 2011 Patriots' defense has allowed more total yards than any of them. 

    Despite this, they are better against the run than the Giants and have allowed fewer points.

    Total Defense

    • Patriots: 411 yards per game (31st)
    • Giants: 376 yards per game (27th)

    Scoring Defense

    • Patriots: 21 points per game (15th)
    • Giants: 25 points per game (25th)

    Passing Defense

    • Patriots: 293 yards per game (31st)
    • Giants: 255 yards per game (29th)

    Rushing Defense

    • Patriots: 117 yards per game (17th)
    • Giants: 121 yards per game (19th)

Special Teams

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    Special teams often gets overlooked. But it shouldn't—just ask the 49ers.

    Here we have five key special teams metrics, and they all favor the Patriots. 

    Field Goals

    • Stephen Gostkowski: 28-of-33 on field goal attempts (85 percent)
    • Lawrence Tynes: 19-of-24 on field goal attempts (79 percent)

    Punt Average

    • Zoltan Mesko: 46.5 yards per punt (11th)
    • Steve Weatherford: 45.7 yards per punt (15th)

    Net Punt Average

    • Zoltan Mesko: 41.5 yards per punt (third)
    • Steve Weatherford: 39.2 yards per punt (tied-14th)

    Offense Average Starting Field Position

    • Patriots: 28.9 yard-line (ninth)
    • Giants: 25.9 yard-line (29th)

    Defense Average Starting Field Position

    • Patriots: 24.0 yard-line (second)
    • Giants: 28.5 yard-line (19th)

Brady vs. Manning: Postseason History

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    This isn't quite as relevant as the slides that have come before it, but it's worth mentioning: Tom Brady has a better career track record in the postseason than Eli Manning. Much better.

    In 21 career playoff games, Brady has completed 472-of-752 attempts (62.7 percent) for an average of 239 yards per game, and a 36:19 TD:INT ratio.

    In 10 career playoff games, Manning has completed 189-of-316 attempts (59.81 percent) for an average of 222 yards per game, and a 16:10 TD:INT ratio

On Second Thought...

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    The Patriots were better (and in some cases, much better) than the Giants on offense, defense and special teams this season. But on Sunday, it means nothing. Nothing. Turnovers can change a game in a snap. So can a bad call. Or an injury.

    Truth is—despite a 9-7 regular season—the Giants have a very good chance to beat the Patriots on Sunday.

    In fact, if you want to twist the numbers just right (and thus discredit the four previous slides), the Giants actually have the edge in Super Bowl XLVI. Consider the following:

    • The Giants are 7-3 away from home this season.
    • The Giants defense has allowed an average of 13.4 points per game during the team's five-game winning streak.
    • The Giants defense sacked the opposing quarterback 48 times this season, tied for third most in the NFL.
    • Eli Manning has a 7-3 career postseason record.
    • In his last three postseason games, Manning has completed 61.8 percent of his passes while averaging 308 passing yards per game and has thrown eight touchdowns and just one interception.
    • In three of Brady's last four postseason games, he's completed 60.0 percent of his passes while averaging just 230 passing yards per game and has thrown four touchdowns to six interceptions.
    • The Patriots' last loss came against the Giants in Week 9 (24-20).

    And then there's this (seemingly obvious) fact that has gone relatively unnoticed: The 2011 Patriots are not a better team than the 2007 16-0 Patriots were. The 2011 Giants, however, are arguably better than the 2007 squad that upset the undefeated Patriots.

    Yet the Patriots remain slight favorites in Super Bowl XLVI. And maybe they deserve that. Maybe not. 

    My point is this: On any given Sunday, anything can happen.

    Nick Kappel is enrolled in the B/R writing program. He is the founder/editor of Follow him on Twitter: @NickKappel