Super Bowl 2012: Complete Giants-Patriots Breakdown
Super Bowl XLVI!
The culmination of a long, winding NFL season. This year's unofficial national holiday pits the New York Giants against the New England Patriots.
The G-Men enter this game having essentially played playoff games since Week 16 and has them thinking back to their magical 2007 championship run.
Meanwhile, the Patriots are coming in on a very hot 10-game win streak, and look to dispel any rumors about their previous championships being tainted by winning their fourth Lombardi Trophy.
Let's see how each phase of the game stacks up in each team's favor.
When the Giants Run
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The Giants have been the worst running team in the NFL this season, mostly because of injuries to Ahmad Bradshaw.
Since the playoffs began, they've averaged over 117 YPG, which is pretty average. The Patriots, on the other hand, have faced two premier rushing teams in Denver and Baltimore, the first- and 10th-ranked rushing teams, respectively.
In those two games, they've given up an average of 130 YPG, but have only given up one rushing TD in that same span. And no single rusher has run for more than 76 yards in a game this postseason against them.
I don't see the Giants really committing to, or succeeding in the run. Bradshaw is injury-prone and Jacobs has lost a step or two from their 2007 Super Bowl campaign. Expect the Patriots to bottle up their rushing attack and force Eli to win the game with his arm.
When the Giants Pass
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Eli Manning had the most impressive season of his career, throwing for almost 5,000 yards. He was very much elite this year.
Because of his performance, the Giants had the fifth-best passing attack in the league. But he was very pedestrian when these two teams met, albeit without his numero uno Hakeem Nicks.
Throwing for only 250 yards and completing barely over 50 percent of his passes, he was hardly the reason why they won, besides his clutch game-winning drive.
One thing that worries me about the Giants passing attack is actually the Patriots, who were tied for second in the league with 23 INTs this season; only Green Bay with 31 was better.
Eli cannot afford to turn the football over in this game, because the Patriots offense is so good at converting turnovers into points. And we all know Eli has had his turnover problems in the past. Even this year he threw 16 INTs.
Overall though, I have faith that Eli can make plenty of plays to put his team in a position to win the game. This is setting up to be a coming-out party for the Other Manning in the House Peyton Built.
When the Patriots Run
The Patriots were very average this year in the running game, averaging only 110 YPG on the ground. But they were very good at getting the running game moving effectively in clock-milking situations.
The Patriots also run a majority of their plays out of the two TE set, meaning that they have the advantage of anonymity in their play-calling.
Meanwhile, the Giants had a very porous running defense, but have done a very commendable job in the playoffs. But, the five YPC they gave up to Frank Gore worries me, as Gore has had a very down year and hasn't been himself.
The Giants are only focusing on the Patriots passing attack, and as such will overlook the two talented backs the Patriots have, leading to effective yards on the ground. Doubt the Patriots call their numbers often, but when they do, expect them to chew up turf and move the ball well.
When the Patriots Pass
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Tom Brady has played the most determined I have ever seen in his career.
Not only did he throw the most yards in his career and second-most TDs, he also ran for three TDs, something he's never been known for. He has this can't-be-stopped aura that emanates from him and spreads throughout his team, resulting in everyone else picking up their games to match his intensity.
He absolutely refuses to lose.
But Brady is also prone to catching a virus that causes his arm to throw a lot of interceptions, having three multi-INT games this season, including a four-INT performance vs. the lowly Buffalo Bills. He also can get rattled in the pocket, evidenced by him ducking phantom pass-rushers in their first meeting with the Giants this year.
With that being said, the man was sacked only two times a game and hit only four times a game. When they played the Giants earlier this year, the G-Men only mustered up a measly one sack—and that was before they went on that 10-game tear.
Brady will not be denied by the 29th-ranked pass defense in the league.
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The Giants have a talented return team with Will Blackmon and Aaron Ross handling duties. Neither is very explosive, but can make moves to get into the open space and get extra yardage for better field position.
They were top 10 in yards per kickoff, and with the rule changes moving the ball five yards up the field, every inch counts.
The Patriots have a very modest return team. Danny Woodhead and Julian Edelman share the load, and while both are also good in space, neither is spectacular.
Edelman doesn't have the breakaway speed needed to really slash defenses, and Woodhead is very small, which means he's fumble-prone.
Neither team will lambaste the other with their special teams, but the Giants are much more solid in this department.
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Tom Coughlin underachieved for most of the season. He was on the verge of losing his job, and then he pulled a rabbit out of his hat by putting together a remarkable run that will secure his place for years to come.
But coaching is all about consistency, and getting the best out of his players. This Giants team mightily underachieved when they should've been one of the NFC's elite.
While Beli got more out of his team than he probably should have, his team had some very embarrassing numbers defensively.
He has relative unknowns getting significant playing time in his secondary, and still finished second in the league in INTs. There's something to be said about a coach who does more with less, and it's hard to argue that there's any coach in history who can do it better than Beli.
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The Giants come in on a run reminiscent of their 2007 run that ended with a championship, hence Deja Blue.
They've played three playoff games against some of the best the game has to offer, even slaying the 15-1 Packers at Lambeau. As such they deserve a lot of praise for being in the position they're in and getting the hype they are.
But they were a 9-7 team that just barely squeaked into the playoffs after a hot start. There's a reason why they were 9-7.
The Patriots are riding a 10-game winning streak that started with a win against the Jets. They're the hottest team right now in terms of consecutive wins.
Their last loss did come at the hands of the Giants in Foxborough, so they don't strike any fear in their eyes. Plus their defense was very bad this year, meaning that this game could go south real fast if they can't muster up offense early.
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This game will come down to who wants it more. And I have a feeling that the Pats want this one more.
Not just for themselves, but for their owner. There's a little something more special when you're playing not just for the Patriots organization, but in honor of a loved one, and that MHK patch seems to give them strength that they don't seem to otherwise have.
The Giants are definitely on a run for the ages, but when it's meant to be, it's meant to be. The Giants will put up one helluva fight, but you can't beat fate. You can't stop an indomitable will to triumph, and that's what the Pats have more than anyone else.
Final Score: Patriots 27, Giants 20