Super Bowl Predictions 2012: 7 Players Who Will Disappoint
Unfortunately, the Super Bowl doesn't always live up to all the hype it receives and there are players that don't play nearly to their strengths because of the hype, pressure and their surroundings. In the past, there have been Super Bowls where the commercials were the highlight of the event. It happens.
Super Bowl XLVI will be no different in that regard.
There are always key players that fail to even have respectable games, and it does make for disappointment sometimes because fans automatically assume these players will have good games before the game even starts.
Here, we are going to predict seven players that are going to fail to produce in Super Bowl XLVI.
Tom Brady: QB, New England Patriots
The former 199th pick in the 2000 NFL draft has proven already once in the 2011 regular season that he has a tough time performing well against the Giants defense. In New England's first matchup with New York, Brady only finished 28/49 passing and tossed two interceptions.
The New York Giants have one of the fiercest defensive lines in the NFL, led by Jason Pierre-Paul, Mathias Kiwanuka, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. The offensive line of the New England Patriots struggled to keep them from Brady in their first matchup this season, and this time will not be any different.
Many ESPN analysts, such as Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge, have labeled the key to Super Bowl XLVI as the matchup between the Patriots offensive line and the Giants defensive line, and I believe the Patriots will lose that battle and cause Brady to have a poor game.
Has Tom Brady had a lot of success in past Super Bowls? Well, yes, of course. However, this is a different Super Bowl, with a different team.
Victor Cruz: WR, New York Giants
Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz essentially came out of nowhere this season and wound up being one of the NFL's best receivers, catching 82 passes for 1,536 yards.
Everyone is expecting Cruz to have a fantastic game, and who's to blame them? The man couldn't be covered all season long, and has been the Giants' hottest receiver in the playoffs.
I believe that what gets Victor Cruz here is the pressure of the game.
This is likely going to be the biggest moment of his life, after playing for an FCS school in his college football days.
The New England Patriots secondary will be very keyed in on him throughout the entire game, making sure he doesn't get very many YAC (yards after catch), which is what Cruz has been most deadly at doing this past regular season.
Look for Victor Cruz to struggle in Super Bowl XLVI, but in turn giving Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham huge games.
Rob Gronkowski: TE, New England Patriots
I can't say I would be surprised if Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has a bad game, considering he is coming off a high ankle sprain, and although he seemed fine in practice the other day, who knows how tender it will be come game time.
Gronkowski, also known as "The Gronk," has been Tom Brady's favorite weapon all season long, next to Wes Welker of course. Gronkowski caught 90 passes, and broke the NFL single season record for touchdowns by a tight end with 17.
It is likely, though, with Gronkowski's injury and the likeliness that Tom Brady will not play well, that he will fail to blow anyone away with amazing catches in Super Bowl XLVI.
I believe that Aaron Hernandez, the tight end opposite of "The Gronk," is likely to have a better game because of the fact that he is not injured and the Giants defense will be much less focused on him.
Jason Pierre-Paul: DE, New York Giants
In only his second season out of South Florida, Jason Pierre-Paul has shown many reminiscent flashes of Jared Allen—yes, he's been that good.
In 2011, Pierre-Paul had 86 total tackles and 16.5 sacks. That is pretty dominant if you ask me.
With the level that Pierre-Paul has been playing at, I think he is due to have a very unproductive game in Super Bowl XLVI.
If the Patriots use their running game against Pierre-Paul, I believe they can wind him enough to be ineffective in the pass rush department.
New England must utilize what running game they do have if they want to give Brady any chance of surviving Sunday's game. The trio of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead can do enough to at least keep some of the heat off of their three-time Super Bowl-winning QB.
Stephen Gostkowski: K, New England Patriots
Can Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski be the new savior in New England, just as Adam Vinatieri was? Well, no, not this year.
In 2011, Gostkowski was very effective, hitting 28-33 field goals (.848) and hitting 9-11 between 40-49 yards.
In Super Bowl XLVI, special teams are likely to play a big role. With my projections of a faltering Patriots offense in this game, I can imagine Gostkowski will need to step up in a big way to help win a potential grudge match.
Well, unfortunately for Patriots fans, Gostkowski will struggle in this game, forcing the New England offense to be effective and score touchdowns.
If the Patriots fail to produce offensively, then they will find themselves in a major crisis because the nerves are going to be too much for Gostkowski.
Aaron Ross: CB, New York Giants
The matchup between Aaron Ross and Deion Branch is one not many people will pay attention to this Sunday.
Deion Branch wasn't always Tom Brady's first choice during the 2011 regular season, but sometimes it was that fact that really helped Branch out—along with defenders paying too much attention to Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker.
This is going to happen again in Super Bowl XLVI.
Aaron Ross is going to have plenty of struggles against the veteran Deion Branch, specifically because for most of the game he will be one-on-one with him due to lack of saftey help from Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips.
Potentially, this could be a huge matchup in the game that will allow the Patriots offense to become more fluid, and nobody has even paid it any attention.
Devin McCourty: CB, New England Patriots
Devin McCourty is the reason that Eli Manning is likely to throw for 350-plus yards, because he has no chance in the world against Hakeem Nicks.
In this entire list, McCourty is going to struggle the most, and at times could be embarrassed.
First off, McCourty's size isn't anywhere near his favor in the matchup with Nicks. Nicks stands at 6'1", 208 lbs. while McCourty is only 5'9", 193 lbs.
Hakeem Nicks is also one of the best receivers in the NFL and is going to have a huge game, especially if Victor Cruz struggles.
If McCourty struggles against Nicks, Kyle Arrington—who has been the Patriots' best corner with seven interceptions in the 2011 regular season—will go against him.
In the first meeting between the Giants and Patriots, Nicks was held out due to a hamstring injury and Arrington went up against Mario Manningham, who beat him for a touchdown.