A lot of time has been spent on Peyton Manning and Jim Irsay over the past two weeks, can we all acknowledge that the big day is here and it is Eli, not Peyton, that will be playing on Lucas Oil Field tonight.
With the time off I expect "Gronk" to be at a good 80% for the Patriots. Expect Hernandez, Welker, Edelman, and Ocho Cinco to pick up the slack in the middle of the field. The one-man law firm and Woody will provide the balance for Brady's offense. If the O-line can give Brady enough time to dump and drive I truly don't see the Patriots losing thia game.
As well as the Giants defense has played, and yes they upstaged the Packers in Green Bay, the Patriots defensive performances have gone over-looked. Tebow made the Steelers defense, a top defense in the NFL, look Carolina Panther-like. But against New England he coudn't do a thing. Constant front 4 pressure, outstanding linebacker play, and solid effort from the secondary allowed New England walk away with an easy win.
With a similar effort against a much better offense, the Patriots bent but did not break against the Ravens and caught a break with a missed field goal at the end.
Eli has played out of his mind in the fourth quarter this season, but he constantly gives the ball away year after year, and so do the running backs in the Giants backfield. Turnovers will be crucial, and if Brady gets more opportunities to put points on the board I say advantage Belichick.
Now I admit I am an Eagles fan so I have more hatred towards the Giants, that being said I have no bias in my selection for this game. Both teams have earned their way to this point and I never expected either to be here.
The Giants have the weapons and the hot quarterback to win this game. Nicks and Cruz are phenomenal, complimented by Manningham and occasionally by Ballard, Eli has legit weapons to light up the scoreboard. But with constant zone coverage and deep safeties, will Eli accept taking the intermediate and dumpoff routes instead of the deep ball? He loves to take shots down the field, and Cruz in the slot is a huge mismatch for the Patriots secondary. I think a Giants win depends more on Eli's management of the game and the running game of the two-headed tandem in Bradshaw and Jacobs. Both are known to let that ball pop out from time to time, so again, the turnover aspect of this game is huge.
The Giants defense is playing outstanding football coming into this game. And it all starts with the front four. Pierre Paul has been a beast since week 10 and Justin Tuck is in mid-season form this late in the year. Advantage Giants on the defensive line. The Giants linebackers and secondary has to be on their toes all game and play their coverage. Brady will have success, but it will be the red zone that is the most crucial and if the Giants D can hold the Patriots to 3 instead of 7 at least once or twice in the red zone, I believe that is what will allow them to win another SuperBowl for Tommy Coughlin.
The story line sets up easy for a Giants loss; Peyton stole the spotlight and it inevitably wore too much on the shoulders of Little Eli.
New England 27 New York 20