Manning and the Giants finished the regular season as the fifth best passing team in the country, and they have continued that trend in the playoffs. The Giants are averaging 287 passing yards per game in the playoffs.
In the 2012 playoffs, Manning has thrown for 923 yards, eight touchdowns and only one interception. All of this adds up to an impressive 108.7 passer rating through three games in the postseason.
Manning and the Giants have already faced the best defense in the NFL when they played the San Francisco 49ers nearly two weeks ago. The New England Patriots defense that Manning will play on Sunday is almost the polar opposite of that tough 49ers unit.
The Patriots were the worst defense in the league for most of the 2011 NFL season, but managed to finish the regular season as the 31st-ranked unit. The Patriots defense allowed 294 passing yards per game in the regular season, but have improved greatly in the playoffs.
In the postseason, the Patriots have allowed only 195 passing yards per game. However, we have to remember that New England played the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Playoff rounds and neither of those teams are known for passing the ball.
In fact, both of those teams finished the regular season in the bottom half of the league in passing yards. The Broncos had the second worst passing offense in the league in 2011, while Baltimore finished at 19th in the league.
In the playoffs, the Patriots have not yet faced a passing attack as potent as the Giants.
Manning and the Giants have been the hottest team in the NFL since the last few weeks of the regular season. The team that played, and beat, the Patriots in Week 9 of the regular season is completely different now.
The Patriots will be facing a team that went on the road and beat the defending Super Bowl champs in the Green Bay Packers, and then went to San Francisco and took down a very physical 49ers team.
Manning is the unquestioned leader of this Giants team and he has been on a rampage lately. He has three talented, healthy receivers in Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. There is no doubt that these guys will cause problems for the Patriots' porous secondary.
Manning and these young receivers have great chemistry, and any one of these guys can explode for a 100-plus-yard game any week. The Patriots will have to choose which one of these three guys to focus on, and chances are that Manning will just connect with the other two.
Manning has already beaten the Patriots in this situation, as well as earlier this season, which means he and the Giants have the confidence to do it again. This game will undoubtedly be a good one, and Manning will need to play well for his Giants to bring home the championship.
I believe that Manning will do just that.
The Giants threw the ball for 316 yards against an extremely talented San Francisco defense, and Cruz accounted for 142 of those yards. Nicks and Manningham played a part, but the Giants have plenty of weapons on that offense.
Tight ends Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum add some talent to the offense and are reliable receivers down the middle of the field. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw is also very good catching the ball out of the backfield.
The Patriots defense is simply not good enough to stop all of these weapons. They have not played an offense comparable to the Giants since Week 12 of the NFL season when they played the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles lit the Patriots up for nearly 400 passing yards.
The Patriots still won that game by a large margin, but the difference is that the Giants have a defense that has been playing amazing football lately.
Despite great play from the Giants defense, this game could likely turn into a shootout, and that would benefit the Giants.
Manning and that offense are definitely good enough to keep up with Tom Brady and the Patriots. There is no doubt that Manning can put up a 400-yard, three-touchdown and no-interception performance on Sunday, and he may have to do just that.
The Super Bowl will be a close game, and that works towards Eli's advantage. Eli is the definition of a clutch quarterback.
In 2011, he led the Giants to seven game-winning drives.
Everyone says that Brady is a great clutch quarterback—while that may be true, he has not had more than four game-winning drives in a single season since 2003.
This game could very well come down to a single drive, and I am picking Manning in this one. This Super Bowl will be the game of his life because he will win it.
Super Bowl XLVI belongs to Eli and the Giants.
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