Tuesday, January 29, 2008
As the week of media attention and overplayed analysis continues, I thought it was time for my gut-bustin', full-on preview of the most watched event in sports. The New England Patriots against the New York Giants in Glendale, Arizona. This Sunday. Position by Position Rankings and Advantages. Enjoy, sports fans and loyal readers.
Quarterback: Pulp Fiction vs. Gigli. George Clooney vs. Hayden Christensen. Ice cream vs. asparagus. Warm, soft socks vs. wet, dirty socks. All of these match-ups are closer than Tom Brady vs. Eli Manning. Brady is one of the most proven quarterbacks in the history of professional football while Manning places third in his own family. Advantage: Patriots.
Running Backs: Lawrence Maroney and Kevin Faulk form a dynamic combination of power running, breakaway speed, and passing outlets. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw form the exact same combination without much talent in the screen passing game. I've seen Jacobs drop too many balls to give the advantage to the Giants. Advantage: Patriots.
Wide Receivers: Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte Stallworth, and Jabar Gaffney. Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer, and Steve Smith. This is pretty obvious, even though I do love Toomer...go blue. Advantage: Patriots.
Tight Ends: With a healthy Shockey, this is a no-brainer in the Giants favor. With that said, I can't seriously pick Kevin Boss over Ben Watson. Advantage: Patriots.
Offensive Line: Those big, burly woodsman who protect the man dating Giselle have played arguably better than any offensive line has in the history of football this season. Therefore, notch another one up for New England. Advantage: Patriots.
Defensive Line: As much as I love watching Wilfork plow through offensive lineman, you can't ignore the Giants' talent on their defensive line with Strahan and Umenyiora. Seymour certainly makes this decision difficult because he's one of the finest defensive ends in the game. As impossible as it is to compare a 3-4 line to a 4-3 line, I base my decision on how successful the front line alone will be in pressuring the opposing quarterback. In that regard, I give the Giants the edge, due mostly to the Patriots use of linebackers and safeties in blitz packages. Advantage: Giants.
Linebackers: These two teams are the two best at pressuring the quarterback and that is shown through their d-line and linebackers. Another close match-up in this one but Vrabel's and Bruschi's experience in three previous Super Bowls tip the scale. Advantage: Patriots.
Defensive Backs: Samuel takes too many risks and Hobbs is a complete wild-card, playing either a terrible game or making a few good plays. Sam Madison and Aaron Ross combined impress me more than Samuel and Hobbs on a regular basis so that's my pick. Advantage: Giants.
Safeties: Rodney Harrison alone is better than the two guys the Giants are putting out there, whether it be R.W. McQuarters, James Butler or Gibril Wilson. Harrison can come in on the blitz, intimidate players with his crushing hits, or intercept passes like he has in numerous consecutive playoff games. Advantage: Patriots.
Special Teams: Both teams have strong return squads. Both teams have untested and unreliable kickers in Super Bowl pressure situations. The Giants though, have one of the best punters in the league, Jeff Feagles, and so they get the close edge. Advantage: Giants.
Final Tally: Patriots 7, Giants 3. My Final Pick: Patriots 34, Giants 20.
I've done all of the thinking I need to do. I've crossed the t's and dotted the lower-case j's. I'm sorry New Yorkers, but I just don't see the Giants being able to pull off the upset that has been talked about for the past two weeks. Yes, the Giants are good on the road and yes, their team has plenty of talent. But there are too many things I can't ignore. The Patriots are 18-0. They have experience in the Super Bowl. They have won too many close games and lost too few. They have Tom Brady. They have Randy Freaking Moss. They are the first team in history to start a season with 18 straight wins. They are definitively the best professional football team of all-time. These are not little, mundane details. These are huge, Super-Bowl-winning credentials. How could you expect them to falter now?