Super Bowl XLIII: New York, New York—Why It Can Happen
Eli and Brett play the most important position in football, for their respective teams. While people knock Eli, albeit unduly, for being a "game manager", and knock Brett for being a "gun-slinger", these two guys both do something intangible—stay on the field. Eli has started 65 consecutive games, while Brett has started an incredible 263 in a row.
The importance of this cannot be understated. Having your franchise quarterback watch from the sidelines will pretty much guarantee your team will not be playing in the big game.
2. Running Back Production
It is well known the Giants have the best ground game in the NFL (they average 172.7 yards per game) with Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, and Ahmad Bradshaw. Yet, the Jets feature two very good backs in Thomas Jones and Leon Washington.
When the weather gets cold, and if teams are coming to the Meadowlands to play, the running game is just that much more important. It is nearly impossible to throw a pass when there are 30-plus mile per hour winds swirling around Giants Stadium.
(When I was six years old, my hat flew off my head, went around in a circle like a tornado, then promptly over the side of the stadium.)
Furthermore, having a running game like the Giants or Jets do allows a team to control the game clock and take pressure off of the quarterback. When you have a quarterback the caliber of Manning or Favre, this opens up the deep ball to wide receivers Plaxico Burress or Laveranues Coles—which is the last thing the defense wants to see when they are tired and beat up from a bruising running game.
3. Offensive Line Play
These teams have two ridiculous offensive lines. How do you think Eli has managed to stay on the field? Sorry to the Jets line, but you only get credit for keeping Brett healthy for 10 of the 263 consecutive games he's started (253 with the Green Bay Packers). Nonetheless, the Jets' line is directly responsible for Thomas Jones' resurgence as an elite NFL runner.
Not to downplay the performance of the trio of Giants running backs, but the Giants line makes it seem like you could take a JV high school running back, plug him into the Giants offense, and poof, you have a 100-yard per game rushing machine.
All the credit in the world to Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. He just confuses the hell out of other teams. It doesn't even matter who's on the field, take away defensive linemen Michael Strahan (retired) and Osi Umenyiora, and the Giants are still fourth in the NFL with 31 sacks and the No. 2 ranked defense.
Meanwhile, the Jets have racked up 34 sacks so far this season. Additionally, the Jets only allow 81.3 yards per game rushing, which will prove even more devastating to other offenses as the season rolls along.
As weather conditions worsen and it becomes more difficult to throw the ball, the Jets opponents will be forced to try their luck against their stout 3-4 defense.
Reality or Mere Dream for New York?
So, how likely is it that both the Giants and Jets will make it to the Super Bowl? It's hard to say at this point in the season. However, after the Giants Super Bowl run last year, we have seen that anything is possible.
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