Super Bowl 2012: Why the New York Giants Offense Will Be Unstoppable
When the New England Patriots and the New York Giants meet in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, most of the emphasis will be on the two team's offenses. And rightfully so, since there are few quarterbacks playing better than Tom Brady and Eli Manning today.
In a year when passing records were broken it only makes sense that the No. 2 passing offense and the No. 5 passing offense would meet in the Super Bowl.
It's quite possible that this is the best Super Bowl matchup from a commercial standpoint. Boston vs. New York is always intriguing, and, with defense being each team's Achilles heel, there should be tons of scoring.
Yet, it is here that the Giants have an advantage. Although bad, their defense has played well during their five-game winning streak and is clearly superior to the Patriots defense. In fact, the combined factors of the Giants explosive offense and the Patriots weak defense suggest that the Giants offense should be unstoppable.
Here are four reasons why the Giants offense will be unstoppable on Sunday.
Multiple Threats at the Wide Receiver Position
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The Giants may have the best one-two punch at wide receiver in the NFL right now.
On one side they've got Hakeem Nicks, who is a matchup nightmare as the Giants' main deep threat. Then on the other side there's breakout slot receiver Victor Cruz, who has broken the Giants record for receiving yards in a season.
Between Cruz and Nicks, teams almost have to pick their poison. Although generally the defense's top cornerback can shut down one of them, the other one will still have a monster game. During the Giants current five-game winning streak, either Cruz or Nicks has had over 110 receiving yards.
The Patriots best hope would be to try to shut out one of these receivers. There really is no shutdown corner in the motley Patriots secondary, which is mostly made up of not only young but also undrafted players.
While their best cornerback Kyle Arrington led the league in interceptions this season, he has still given up big plays this season.
Even without Cruz and Nicks, the Giants still have a scary receiving corps.
The underrated Mario Manningham started 10 games this season and scored the Giants' final touchdown in the NFC Championship, a sign that Eli Manning will look for him in key situations. Then there are tight ends Jake Ballard and Bear Pascoe, who are both fully capable of making the big catch down the center of the field.
Eli Manning Is Red Hot
It feels extremely weird to say, but Eli Manning is playing like he is the best quarterback in the NFL right now.
Yes, this is the same guy that has the reputation as Peyton's awkward little brother, and also the same guy who threw 25 interceptions last season. Yet somehow Manning has become one of the most clutch playoff quarterbacks in NFL history.
Manning is now 7-3 in the playoffs with his six road playoff victories—the most by any one quarterback.
In his three playoff games this season, Manning has thrown eight touchdowns and one interception with a 103.1 quarterback rating. He has thrown for over 270 yards in each playoff game and has only had one fumble, which was recovered by the Giants.
Now Manning is facing the 31st-ranked passing defense in the league.
The Patriots have allowed an average of 293.9 passing yards this season and got lucky, so to speak, in terms of their postseason opponents. For all the hype around Tim Tebow, his throwing arm is not one of his strengths, and Joe Flacco typically does not play well in the playoffs.
Yet even Flacco had his way against the Patriots in the AFC championship, as he threw for 306 yards and two touchdowns.
Flacco is not the worst quarterback to do well against the Patriots either. The likes of Jason Campbell, Vince Young and Dan Orlovsky all threw for over 340 yards against the Patriots defense.
As the hottest quarterback in the league, Manning has got to feel good about his chances against the Patriots defense.
The Patriots Defense Has Been Getting Lucky for Too Long
In the above video, the ESPN First Take crew debates whether or not the Patriots defense is good enough to win a Super Bowl. It's a valid debate since they would arguably be the worst defensive unit to ever win a Super Bowl.
The Patriots were ranked 31st in overall defense, 31st in pass defense and 17th in run defense in the regular season. The 17 number sticks out since it shows their run defense is middle of the pack and not historically awful.
Their playoff wins showed that the Pats can be tough against the run, as they contained both the Denver Broncos' option attack and the Ravens' Ray Rice.
What the playoff run did not expose was the Patriots' weak secondary.
Yes, they looked great against Tebow in the 45-10 victory against the Broncos. But, against the Ravens, the defense was almost the Patriots undoing, as the Ravens were but a dropped Lee Evans catch and a Billy Cundiff field goal miss from possibly making the Super Bowl.
As stated before in this slideshow, the Patriots secondary is young and unproven.
There are some neat stories in there like undrafted rookie Sterling Moore, who prevented Evans from getting the touchdown, and the recently returned Patrick Chung, who has provided some stability in the secondary. But neat stories do not necessarily win Super Bowls, and it's likely this group will get a rude awakening against Eli Manning and the Giants offense.
The Giants Have Rediscovered Their Running Game
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What may be most surprising about this particular Giants team was their inability to run the ball during the regular season.
That comes as a surprise considering that Tom Coughlin is the kind of coach that typically loves to emphasize a power run game and a strong defense. Yet the Giants rush offense finished the regular season dead last in the NFL, averaging 89.2 rushing yards a game.
A lot of that was due to the injury of featured running back Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw played in 12 games this regular season, starting in only nine games thanks to a foot injury. Bradshaw has been back for the playoffs although he has mostly been splitting time with fellow running back Brandon Jacobs.
Jacobs is getting up there in years, and, as a result, is less reliable as a starting running back. His main value this season came during Bradshaw's injury when he was the team's top running back. Jacobs finished the season with 571 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns.
For the playoffs, Bradshaw has gotten 200 rushing yards and no touchdowns with 46 attempts while Jacobs has gotten 127 rushing yards and one touchdown with 28 attempts.
It's more of a committee approach, and it's worked so far, as the Giants have averaged 117.3 rushing yards during the playoffs.
If the Giants can successfully balance the run and the pass against the Patriots, it is more likely that the Giants will be able to come away victorious in the Super Bowl.