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-Patriots to be Dealt Aces in Super Bowl XLII
By Chris Pokorny, PFCritics Writer
February 3, 2008

Game:  New York Giants (13-6) vs. New England Patriots (18-0)
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, AZ)
When: 6:32 PM EST on FOX
Announcers: Troy Aikman & Joe Buck

Tom Brady scoffed when told Wednesday that New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress guaranteed New York will beat Brady's undefeated New England team in Sunday's Super Bowl.

"We're only going to score 17 points?" Brady said before chuckling about it. "OK. Is Plax playing defense? I wish he had said 45-42 and gave us a little credit for scoring more points."

When the playoffs started, I already had the Super Bowl matchup that I wanted to see in the back of my mind. That game featured the Indianapolis Colts defending their title against the Green Bay Packers. It would've been a battle of my favorite quarterbacks playing the game today -- Peyton Manning versus Brett Favre -- in a showdown that I've been waiting years to see. Neither of my teams made the postseason. The Colts won't have the chance to defend their title. Favre may never get the Packers as far as he did this year before he retires. And yet, the Super Bowl we've been given may turn out to be the best contest imaginable.

Although I still believe that a healthy Colts team would have been good enough to beat the Patriots in the postseason, no one can deny that the Patriots have been the best football team in the league this season. Heck, you can make comparisons about them being the best team of all time after seeing them compile an 18-0 record up to this point. Even if they lose to the Giants, they can be billed as the greatest team of all time; although it'll come with the dubious honor of being the greatest team that didn't get it done.

The Giants are clear underdogs heading into this game, as seen by the multiple-possession point spread. Heck, you can even see the clear tone at any sports page that you visit. On Yahoo Sports, their video section has two captions: "Why the Patriots Will Win" and "How the Giants Can Win". The Giants are used to being the underdogs, and this is a team that has responded extremely well away from the pressure faced in front of their home fans. And, a case can be made that the Giants have a little more momentum heading into this game. The Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers were the NFC's best teams in the regular season, and the Giants beat both of them on the road. Still, that does nothing to discredit the Patriots, who were in control against two red-hot AFC teams in the Jacksonville Jaguars and the San Diego Chargers.

When you have a perfect record as the Patriots do, you have every other team in the league overmatched.

Eli Manning was overmatched by bad weather in the regular season. Yet in Green Bay two weeks ago, he didn't throw an interception against a pass-prided Packers defense.

Plaxico Burress could have been overmatched by a bad ankle all season. Yet he had 12 touchdowns in the regular season, and had the best game of any receiver this season against Al Harris two weeks ago.

Tom Coughlin was overmatched in the media heading into the season, and after the team started 0-2. Now, he has his team in the Super Bowl.

The Giants' defense looked overmatched to start off the season. To close out the season, they were the best pass rushing team in the league.

Bottom Line: When the Giants have been overmatched, they've responded.

Back in Week 17, the Giants were also overmatched when they were pitted against the Patriots in one of the largest television audiences in history for a regular-season game. Manning had one of the best performances of his career, tossing four touchdowns en route to scoring 35 points. What happened? The Patriots, just like they have done all season, held their ground in scoring 38 points. Before I get into my official prediction, let's take a look at some fun facts and statistics for Super Bowl XLI:

  • The game will be officiated by head referee Mike Carey
  • . It'll mark the first time a black referee has been the head official of a Super Bowl.
  • Former American Idol winner Jordin Sparks will sing the national anthem before the game.
  • Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers will perform at halftime.
  • The cost of a 30-second commercial during this year's game cost $2.7 million.
  • A brand new episode of House will air after the Super Bowl. If you've never seen the show, watch it. Hugh Laurie does a tremendous job in the role of the lead character.
  • The official Super Bowl pregame show will start at 2:00 PM EST on FOX and will be hosted by the normal crew of Curt Menefee, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, and Jimmy Johnson.
  • Frank Caliendo will perform in various comedy sketches and Ryan Seacrest will be awaiting the arrival of various players and celebrities.

OFFENSE

Category Giants Patriots
Points Scored 23.3 (14th) 36.8 (1st)
Passing 197.1 (21st) 295.7 (1st)
Rushing 134.3 (4th) 115.6 (13th)
Total Offense (yards) 331.4 (16th) 411.3 (1st)

DEFENSE

Category Giants Patriots
Points Scored 21.9 (17th) 17.1 (4th)
Passing 207.3 (11th) 190.1 (6th)
Rushing 97.7 (8th) 98.3 (10th)
Total Defense (yards) 305.0 (7th) 288.3 (4th)

 

The defining point in this game is that the Giants can't afford to stop one, two, three, or even four of the Patriots' playmakers. They need to stop everyone to win the game. If they stop Randy Moss deep, Wes Welker will have opportunities underneath. If they stop Welker, Donte Stallworth will flourish in the catch-and-run. If they stop Stallworth, Benjamin Watson will fill in a gap. If they stop Watson, Kevin Faulk will come out of no where with a game-turning play. And, none of that has considered the fact that the Giants also need to stop Laurence Maroney when the Patriots choose to run the ball.

Going back to the blurbs from Yahoo Sports illustrates this game perfectly. Yes, the Giants are a team that can get it done. But, the Patriots are a team that will get it done. For every time the Giants will be dealt pocket kings in this game, the Patriots will flip over aces.

FINAL PREDICTION: New England Patriots 41, New York Giants 30.


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