Super Bowl 2012 Predictions: 5 Players Destined to Choke
Every Super Bowl leads to history being made.
You have a new champion and a new team that came up one game short. You have legendary plays and you have crucial mistakes. Then you have the heroes and the chokers.
There is no avoiding it.
There will be players that, come Monday morning, will be labeled as chokers. Whether it is fair or not, we will see players not live up to expectations and the overanalysis of the Super Bowl will lead to them being scrutinized by several media outlets.
While it is possible for any player to choke, here are five players that have a much better chance than the rest.
Brandon Jacobs has had a very up-and-down road with the New York Giants.
He was once the feature back for the "G-Men", but the emergence of Ahmad Bradshaw led to him taking the back seat. Jacobs has been known for having a loud mouth on and off the field, which hasn't helped his popularity with the fans or the team.
Even this postseason, Jacobs has taken a secondary role to Bradshaw.
His numbers suggest that he has been a solid performer in the playoffs, but his only impact game was against the Atlanta Falcons when they really didn't need him.
Jacobs only carried the ball a combined 14 times against the Packers and 49ers, resulting in just 35 yards and one touchdown.
The Patriots' run defense has been playing its best football of the year since entering the postseason and I don't expect it to slow down any in the Super Bowl.
The Giants will turn to Jacobs, but they will be disappointed with the results.
Deion Branch is a former Super Bowl MVP.
His performance against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005 was an a legendary outing. Branch caught a record-tying 11 receptions for 133 yards. Without him, the Patriots may not have won that game.
Branch went on to leave the Patriots for the Seattle Seahawks where his career took a severe downturn. He returned to the Patriots in 2010 hoping to rekindle some of the old magic that made him one of New England's most dangerous weapons.
He has been solid all year long, but hasn't had to be the involved player he was in his younger years.
Many may be expecting Branch to step up again in the big game, but I wouldn't be on it. The Patriots have far too many weapons on offense to give him the kind of looks he got in the early 2000s.
Branch is nowhere near the player he used to be and if Tom Brady attempts to lean on him too much, the Patriots will be setting themselves up for disaster.
Let Branch play his role and nothing more.
Sebastian Vollmer & Nate Solder
The right tackle position for the Patriots has alternated between Sebastian Vollmer and rookie Nate Solder.
Vollmer has been battling injuries for most of the year, but is expected to play in the Super Bowl, although it is likely that we will still see a heavy dose of Solder at the right tackle position.
These two are going to be responsible for containing a very dangerous pass rush.
The Giants have a deadly defensive line built around Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck. New York has the ability to generate a pass rush with just its defensive line, which takes quite a bit of pressure off of their lackluster secondary.
One of the biggest keys to the Giants beating the Patriots in the last Super Bowl was New England's inability to protect Brady.
The Giants are going to bring the heat again this Sunday. I don't believe in the right tackle position made up of a tackle coming off of an injury and a rookie.
The Patriots will need to give the right side some serious help if they plan on keeping Brady upright.
There may have been no bigger disappointment on the Patriots' roster this year than Devin McCourty.
McCourty made the Pro Bowl in his rookie year and appeared to be one of the league's next dominant cornerbacks. For some reason, McCourty has suffered an awful sophomore slump. His play has been so bad that Bill Belichick has moved him to safety.
He has been one of the weakest players in New England's secondary because he continues to be responsible for each opponent's best receiver. His confidence at this point in the season must be shot. That is never a good feeling heading into the biggest game of his career.
McCourty will be crucial in the containment of the Giants' dangerous receiving threats in Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Cruz and Nicks have been destroying secondaries all year long. There is no doubt they will be looking to attack McCourty all game long.
I believe that McCourty still has a chance to become a great player in this league, but I don't see it starting in the Super Bowl.
For the sake of Patriots' fans, they should hope McCourty has some help with whomever he is responsible for this Sunday.
This one is sure to upset the Giants' fans.
Eli Manning has been on fire since the start of the postseason. He has thrown for 923 yards and eight touchdowns with only one interception.
There is no denying that Manning is playing some of the best football of his career and has earned the right to say that he is one of the elite quarterbacks in the league right now. However, that long history of poor decisions still follows him.
We have seen Manning look amazing one week and look as if he doesn't even belong in the league the next. In some games, the lights just look too bright for the younger Manning brother.
I know he has won a Super Bowl, but let's not pretend like he was a hero in that game.
He made a desperation throw that was miraculously reeled in by one-hit wonder David Tyree and followed that up with an easy fade pass to Plaxico Burress, who had almost a foot on Ellis Hobbs.
I don't mean to take anything away from Eli. He made the throws he needed to and won the game, but everything needs to be taken in context.
Manning has the spotlight on him in this game. He is no longer in Tom Brady's shadow. When all of the eyes are on him and expectations are high, I see a good chance that the old Eli Manning will make an appearance.