INDIANAPOLIS (Sporting Alert) — Is this 2008 or 2012? I guess we can tell the times through the super bowl adds, the differing depth charts, and the greater number of gray hairs on Bilicheck and Coughlin’s heads.
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However, the one way in which it’s hard to tell the difference between the 2008 Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona and the 2012 super bowl in Indianapolis, Indiana is the strengths and weaknesses of the New England Patriots and New York Giants.
Not so long ago, in the summer of 2011, there was doubt that tonight’s events would occur, but tonight is the 2012 super bowl. It will be a rematch of the 2008 nail-biter in which the Giants found a way to beat the then 18-0 Patriots. In a way, tonight’s matchup seems eerily similar.
Bill Belichick is still the head coach of the Patriots. The Patriots aren’t as seemingly formidable as they were in 2008. Still, Tom Brady looked flawless when he threw a record tying 6 touchdowns as the Patriots crushed the Broncos’ super bowl hopes three weeks ago.
On the other side, the New York Giants, still led by Tom Coughlin, are sporting a wildcard playoff run just like in 2008. The Giants’ rushing game again includes a variety of tough running backs.
Even without Michael Strahan, Antonio Peirce, and Plaxico Burress, the Giants defensive line is still the heart and pride of their defense and Eli Manning’s balanced receiving core is arguably more difficult to stop than Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer (excluding Jeremy Shockey due season ending injury on December 16th, 2007).
So, disregarding a few subtle differences, tonight’s super bowl matchup looks just like the 2008 4th quarter thriller. So, I’ll skip over the small-talk and get right to the point.
Is tonight’s game going to be a repeat of the 2008 super bowl in Arizona? I think it would be stupid to say no to this one. Firstly, I think that way because usually things don’t happen the same way twice, and secondly, because of the form of Tom Brady and Eli Manning. Both quarterbacks seem to have only matured over the last four years. I believe their maturity will influence offensive production tonight.
That’s not to say that offensive production will be the most important factor. Rather, I think the team with the greatest defensive effort will claim the coveted title of super bowl champions.
If tonight’s game was an algebraic equation, and X was the factor determining the game’s outcome, then similar to 2008, I think that factor will be the Giant’s defensive ends.
Everyone must perform to win a super bowl, and no win or loss can be credited to any one person, but the way Tom Brady handles the Giant’s pass rush crowding his mental game will largely influence tonight’s outcome.
My prediction is that the increased maturity of these quarterbacks will result in both teams putting up about 10 more points than they did in 2008.
If either quarterback chokes, the result will be detrimental to their team, but if each quarterback performs well and defense ends up determining the outcome, I think the Eli Manning will be walking away with some family bragging rights. There’s no David Tyree this year, but perhaps magic will again be in the air tonight, for the Giants…
Giants 27 – 24 Patriots
Patriots’ Defensive x-factor – The Patriot linebackers – the Giants have the advantage at the running back position, the Patriots need to stop the rushing game if they want to force Manning to cough up the ball.
Giants’ Defensive x-factor – The Giant’s safeties – Buying the cornerbacks some time and capitalizing on chances for turnovers will prevent Brady from quick scores.
Patriots’ offensive x-factor – The rushing game – If the Patriots can’t relieve the pressure on Brady, it will be catastrophic for their offensive production
Giants ‘offensive x-factor – The offensive line – If they can’t give their backfield room to work, and win the time of possession battle, the Patriots will take advantage of a tired Giant’s defense
As for the special teams… just stick to the fundamentals
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