Let me start by saying this is a column less about my prediction of Super Bowl XLVI and more about the reasons why the Giants have slightly more advantages than the Patriots leading into the northeast showdown in Indianapolis.
It takes a lot for me to be brazen and outright pick a winner in any game – from high school to the NFL. Call it superstition, call it modesty, regardless, I’ll present opinion through facts and feel free to share your counteractive thoughts in the comment feed below.
In sports, I’m a big proponent of sticking to things you’ve been successful with throughout the year in order to win the end game. The same applies at the Super Bowl.
“This is a big game for the Giants organization,” said Eli Manning. “This is a big game for every single player who’s going to be playing in this game. You hope that you can go out there and play the best football that you’ve ever played. That’s always the goal.”
Amen to that.
That being said, here are five key points the Giants must do in order to beat the Patriots again:
- Expose the Patriots defense: During the regular season, the Patriots were ranked No. 31 in the NFL, second to last in front of the Packers, in total defense. They allowed an average of 411 yards per game, which fits right in with the amount of yards the Giants accumulated on average in 2011 (385). Against the Ravens in the AFC Championship game, the Patriots did garner three sacks and an interception, so things have improved in their post-season efforts. How do you expose the defense? That brings me to No. 2 …
- Use Cruz as main receiver: Victor Cruz is no longer a secret weapon. He shed the secret part long ago. Expect the Patriots to line Julian Edelman up against Cruz in nickel back on passing downs, leaving man coverage for large chunks of the game. That could be hell for Edelman if Manning plays like expected. In turn, if Cruz gets double coverage in some sets, that will leave Hakeem Nicks open in some fashion and he’s been on a tear as well.
- Take away Brady’s passing game: There is no denying the Patriots function on Brady’s ability. Expect Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Dave Tollefson and Chris Canty to bring the pain. Pressure Brady and he’ll hurry his throws. Watch for the Giants to use four man rushes on the line and implement stunts to counter the double team pressure the Patriots will apply.
- Combat Gronkowski: The Redwood sized tight end is nursing an ankle injury and has been in a boot for the last week. While he could be ineffective from the get-go, the Giants can’t take any chances with him. Pressure him with defensive sets that won’t allow for much yards after the catch.
- Manning, confidence and more: In his brother’s house during a season in which Eli has heard the term Super Star more times than ever before in his career, he will have every reason in the world to play his normal primetime style. His cool demeanor will once again overcome Brady’s Playboy persona in the grandest stage.
Oh and here’s the obvious intangible honorable mention characteristic: New York supremacy … Sorry to do this, but let’s not forget about Bucky Dent for his historic lore in the cultural rivalry between the territories, Bill Buckner's gaff in '86 (I don't care if the Sox won two World Series since then) or Super Bowl XLII in which David Tyree became a marked man in New England forever for using his head.
Chew on that, New England.
I will be in Indianapolis covering Super Bowl XLVI for Aol/Patch, please follow me @ChrisVaccaro on Twitter for updates throughout the week. I'll be at the ticker tape parade in New York after #SB46 if you want updates from there as well.
RELATED: Here’s the New England version of this column on New York Patch sites