Super Bowl fever is spreading like a California wildfire, and even people who don't follow football feel confident enough this year to make a prediction—Patriots by a landslide.
"Not so fast," I say. I think the Giants have a shot at this thing.
Mind you, I also thought the Chargers would upset the Patriots and the Packers would annihilate the Giants. Uh, not such good picks. Does not instill very much confidence in my ability to prognosticate, does it? Truth be told, I have been terrible at picking games all season. But, I really feel good about picking the Giants...I think.
Don't bet the ranch on my advice, but I have placed a nice little bet on the Giants. They are such underdogs, if they pull out a win I can brag for months. And I will. Believe it.
However, I am not simply picking them in blind and fervent hope of an upset. There is statistical evidence that proves there is a reason for Strahan and Co. to buckle their chinstraps on Sunday. (I sure hope they are one of the better teams in the league—having made it to the Superbowl and all.) It's not like the Patriots are playing the Lions...
Anyway, the Giants performed well against the Patriots earlier in the season, and as long as Eli Manning holds it together they can do so again.
Eli is a huge key to the game. His playoff performance thus far has been solid and that's what the Giants need from him again this Sunday. New England's pass defense is ranked No. 6, so don't expect Eli to pass for 300 yards (not that he would have anyway). When he does pass, he needs to make sure it goes to his receivers. By minimizing mistakes and playing efficiently Eli can let the No. 4 rushing offense set the tempo.
The Giants will need to get more than their season average 134 yards from Brandon Jacobs and crew in order to control the clock. If they can rack up the miles, Eli doesn't have to be spectacular.
It's a formula that worked for Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XL. Ben Roethlisberger, another green quarterback, did not play extraordinarily well. However, he didn't make any huge mistakes, allowing the Steelers' running game and defense to seal the deal.
Speaking of defense: The Giants' defense is ranked No. 7 overall while the Patriots' is No. 4. Although Tom Brady has been a freak this year (the Patriots' offense is No. 1 as a result), the Giants' defense is not going to collectively step aside and let him blow up the field. They're No. 11 against the pass and I am sure they've watched some film this week. They might not know how to shut Brady down, but my good money says they just might be able to neutralize him enough to win.
So I look forward to kickoff. I think there is an actual game to be played and, win or lose, I think the Giants deserve a little more respect from the world of football. Yeah, Monday morning I might wake up and wish I hadn't put my money where my mouth is. The Patriots might destroy the Giants, making history along the way.
But if they don't...I, for one, will not be surprised.