Super Bowl 2012 Predictions: New England Patriots Defense Will Suprise Everyone
The struggles of the New England Patriots defense have been well-documented this season.
They had the 31st ranked defense in terms of total yards during the regular season and struggled to stop even the most anemic offenses.
But as the Patriots have marched on toward Super Bowl XLVI, they have done so while holding opponents to an average of 15.0 points in two games. Not so bad.
And while they prepare to compete on the biggest stage Sunday, the defense has a renewed confidence which could prove to haunt the Giants.
Here are some reasons why the Patriots defense will surprise many in Super Bowl XLVI.
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The New England defense begins, and ends, with big man in the middle, Vince Wilfork.
Wilfork almost single-handedly stopped the Baltimore Ravens offense in the AFC championship game by recording six tackles including three for loss and one sack.
Wilfork was able to penetrate the Raven offensive line and blow up the play before it ever materialized. He will need to continue his dominance in Super Bowl XLVI.
Not only does Wilfork make the big plays, he gives his teammates opportunities by commanding double teams from the opposing offensive line.
If the Giants decide to double team Wilfork, it will open up lanes for the rest of the defensive line, and if they choose not to, Wilfork will dominate like he did against Baltimore.
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Brandon Spikes' impact on the defense this postseason has been amazing.
Spikes returned from injury in the final game of the regular season and the defense has been stout ever since.
Spikes brings toughness to a defense that lacks intimidating presences. Spikes is that intimidating presence in the middle for the Patriots.
He also showed his athletic ability with an interception of Joe Flacco in a pivotal drive in the fourth quarter of the AFC championship game.
Spikes is one Patriot linebacker who can stack up against the big, bruising backs for the Giants and limit the run game, along with nose tackle Vince Wilfork.
Spikes will continue his inspiring hard-nosed football in Super Bowl XLVI and will lead a defense that will stop the Giants running game.
The Patriots Offense
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It's odd to think that the high-powered New England offense can help out the vulnerable Patriots defense, but that is exactly what is going to happen in Super Bowl XVLI.
This season, Tom Brady and the offense were known for scoring fast and scoring often. However, the Super Bowl and playoffs are a different animal completely.
The Giants pass rush is arguably the best in the league and the Patriots will need to run the ball more to neutralize the pass rush.
This gives the Patriots the edge in time of possession, leading to more rest for the defense.
Rest is helpful in a couple of ways.
The obvious is to give players who are winded the opportunity to catch their breath. But it also gives Bill Belichick and the coaches an opportunity to make subtle adjustments that will help in slowing down Eli Manning.
The extra rest will pay dividends for the defense late in the game.
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It is no secret that they weakest part of the Patriots defense this season was the secondary.
The Patriots were depleted at cornerback and safety throughout the season and had to use, and continue to use, a wide receiver at corner in Julian Edelman.
The New York Giants boast a trio of talented wide outs, making it difficult for the Patriots secondary to shut down elite quarterback Eli Manning.
However, the Patriots secondary has been playing increasingly better in the past few games and come up with the big plays when needed.
The secondary will give up a bulks of yards during the game, but when it comes down to it, they will make the plays when the need to to win.
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Bill Belichick is appearing in his fifth Super Bowl as head coach of the New England Patriots but never has he had a defense this suspect before.
That being said, Belichick has inspired his defense and now they seem to be improving significantly week by week, and this week will be no different.
Belichick hasn't forgotten the heartbreaking loss to the Giants four years ago and he will take advantage of the two-week layoff to prep his defense for their toughest test of the season.
But would anybody be surprised if the defense plays great?
Belichick, after all, is the defensive genius who led the Patriots to the three Super Bowls in four seasons in the early 2000s and there are no signs that his "genius" has left him.
Belichick will ultimately put in a game plan that will slow the offense led by Eli Manning and the Patriots will win their fourth Super Bowl title.