Super Bowl Predictions 2012: Don't Sleep on Chad Ochocinco

Kevin JoyceContributor IFebruary 3, 2012

Ochocinco could be primed to explode in his first Super Bowl appearance
Ochocinco could be primed to explode in his first Super Bowl appearancePatrick McDermott/Getty Images

For all intents and purposes Chad Ochocinco has bought into the "Patriot Way," that Belichickian mantra of keeping one's head down and putting the team's best interest in front of your own. He's only caught 15 balls for 276 yards and one score, well below his stellar career averages.

Going into the AFC Championship game Chad was listed as inactive, mainly due to his father dying recently prior. Had he been active, I believe he would have been a larger part of the gameplan than most would have thought.

Since he did not see the field, this makes the "Ochocinco" card that much more valuable going into the big dance. All the attention this week when it comes to the Patriots receiving threats has been on Rob Gronkowski's ankle with the bits and scraps going to focus on All-Pro Wes Welker and standout tight end Aaron Hernandez.

Maybe the tiniest bit has gone to Deion Branch, but no one, no one, has said one word about Ochocinco perhaps having a large impact on this game.

Could a perennial Pro-Bowler only one year removed from stardom paired with a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback in the Super Bowl really fly under the radar so effectively?

Somewhere, Bill Belichick is licking his chops.

The Big Three (Welker, Gronk and Hernandez) tore up the Giants secondary in their first meeting, combining for 21 receptions for 271 yards and 2 touchdowns. With Gronk appearing in practice without a walking boot, his prognosis seems somewhat positive for the Super Bowl.

You can bet that at least a quarter of the Giants' defensive plays will involve doubling one or even two of the Patriots' top three pass-catching targets, hoping that Brady looks at one of the doubled receivers first and will not have enough time to shift to his second or third reads.

You can also bet that on many of those plays, an unexpected receiver such as Ochocinco, could be Brady's first read as a response to this defensive scheme.

Who knows? He didn't catch a lot of balls, but the ones he did catch went for an average of 18.4 yards per catch, indicating his deep speed is still intact, something the Giants' porous (ranked 29th against the pass) defense might miss on one or two plays.

You can definitely bet that Tom Brady will be there to take advantage.