Tag Archives: Tom Brady

Superbowl Sunday: The Preview

Giants (12-7) versus Patriots (15-3) 6:20 ET on NBC (if we’re lucky kickoff will be before 7)

If you have been paying any attention at all to this weeks upcoming Superbowl game between the Giants and the Patriots there are two things you are probably sick and tired of hearing about. The health of Rob Gronkowski and the sequence of events that led up to David Tyree’s amazing catch in Superbowl XLII.

Unfortunately for you, dear reader these are unavoidable topics when it come to analyzing this impending match up.

Revenge. There has been a lot of people predicting that the Patriots have the revenge factor going for them in this game because of the way the Giants ruined their perfect season. While I’m sure there is some serious residual sting from that loss for the Patriots players, it’s a losers lament and something that affects the fan base more than the players. Bill Belichick is not the kind of coach that is going to allow his players to blame anyone other than themselves for getting unexpectedly punched in the mouth by the Giants. The greater motivating factor for this years Patriots team is that the Giants were the last team to beat them this year. The teams are on a combined 15-0 run but as I chronicled before the Pats haven’t played a lot of talented teams and just barely got out of the Baltimore game alive whereas the Giants are gaining momentum at just the right time and have been beating the cream of the NFC.

Rob Gronkowski on the other foot is the other major story of the week. I have no doubt in my mind that the Gronk is going to play in the Superbowl. Whether they numb him up, he just plain guts it out, or he goes out of his mind on cocaine like L.T. used to do in the 80’s, he is going to be on the field this Sunday.The big debate is as to how effective he will be. If the Patriots can drive the field and get into the red zone I feel that Gronkowski with his freakish size will still be an effective end zone threat, a place that he has thrived all season. The Giants should be able to limit his impact on the rest of the field however by jamming him at the line and taking advantage of the fact that his speed should be hobbled.

Vegas has the Patriots listed as favorites giving three points to the Giants however I feel like this is the Gee Men’s game to lose. The Giants are better than the Patriots in every category except Quarterback. The trio of Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham is deadly and doesn’t allow defenses to key on any one guy. Big Blue’s running game has been much maligned all season and just hasn’t been the game-changing strength that it has been in previous years but I’m still taking Bradshaw and Jacobs (Thunder and Lightning) over Green-Ellis and Woodhead (The Law Firm and Mighty Mouse) especially the way the Offensive Line has been coming together for the Giants. Both the Patriots and Giants secondary has been questionable all season but now that the Giants are healthy they have this category in the win column and have the extra edge of being able to use more defenders on the strength of what could possibly be the best front four in the NFL.

That leaves us with the last X-factor of the game being Brady versus Manning. When you think of Brady v. Manning the first image that comes to your head is the Elder Manning, but this year he will again be watching from the luxury boxes as Eli battles on the field. In years past this would be a match up that you didn’t even have to really think about. Brady was the better and more consistent Quarterback with all the experience and  swagger to go with it and Eli was the on-again off-again sufferer of the “Manning Face” who could either throw for 350 yards or throw for three picks.

This year we have seen a different Eli. The Manning Face still creeps up from time to time but I have been really impressed with the consistency of Eli’s game this year and last week against the Niners he showed some serious toughness as he shrugged off sack after sack without letting it affect his pocket presence. Tom Brady on the other hand is starting to show a few chinks in the armor and had a self-admittedly horrible game against the Ravens  and there is a reason it’s not the same old Brady versus Manning this year. These guys are getting older and with all the hits and injuries you have to endure it’s hard to have a long career in the NFL. That being said Brady doesn’t have bad games two weeks in a row, he has the backing of one of the greatest game planners in the game with Bill Belichick  and the Patriots won’t make the mistake they made in 2008 of underestimating the Giants.

So who takes home all the enchiladas on Sunday? Homerism aside, sort of,  I am staying with the New York Football Giants. All of the factors seem to be in there favor. The only category the Patriots dominate the Giants in is at TE and their most important TE is hobbled. You can argue successfully that the Pats have the edge at Head Coach and Quarterback but the margin is not that wide. The Gee Men have a great Defense right now and unlike teams who have been carried to Superbowl victories on defense alone, see 2000 Ravens, the Giants also have a great offense. Defense wins Championships but it doesn’t hurt to be able to sling some arrows too. The greatest factor the Giants have going for them is that they are peaking at the right time and that has been the blueprint for winning Superbowls for years now. The Giants rode a similar kind of wave in 2007, the Saints and the Packers did the same thing the last couple years and look for the Boys in Blue to do it again this year. One more thing Patriots fans. Try winning a Superbowl without Adam Vinatieri! The Patriots three Superbowl victories were each decided by three point and two of those were game winners by Vinatieri who has also since won another Superbowl with the Colts.

Final Score: Giants 27, Patriots 20

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NFL Playoff Preview: Conference Championships

Ravens (13-4) at Patriots (14-3): 3:00 ET on CBS

The last time these two teams met in the playoffs (2009-10) the Patriots lost the game before it really even started. The Ravens came out hungry and utterly dominated the Pats in the first quarter scoring on their first play from scrimmage a 83-yard touchdown from Ray Rice. It was an absurdly lopsided game in which Joe Flacco threw only 10 passes and the Ravens rushed 42 times for 221 yards. Bill Belichick and the Patriots that remain from that season assuredly have that game burned into their memory and likely have seen all too much of that game tape in the study rooms this week. The keys to success for both teams are still very relevant from then to now.

The Ravens need to start strong and use their defense to throw Tom Brady and the Patriots off their game hopefully creating turnovers. They will also need to establish a strong running game in order to bring more balance to their pass attack. Joe Flacco has a much improved receiving core between Anquan Boldin, Lee Evans and speedster Torrey Smith. Conversely the Patriots need to control the Ravens run game, limit their turnovers and make Joe Flacco and his mustache beat them.

The Patriots are really a puzzling team. They finally got the playoff monkey off their back by dominating the Broncos for their first playoff win since losing Superbowl XLII. Let’s be honest though, the Broncos are not a good team and if you look at the Patriots schedule it’s been a long time since they played any really good teams.Since their bye week they lost to the Steelers and Giants (2 good teams) and then beat the Jets, Chiefs, Vickless Eagles, Colts, Skins, Bronocs, Dolphins and Bills. Not a lot of good competition in there.

Continue reading NFL Playoff Preview: Conference Championships

NFL Playoff Preview: Saturday

New Orleans (14-3) at San Francisco (13-3): 4:30 ET on Fox

These are two teams that match up against each other very well and should provide for a pretty entertaining start to the NFL Playoff weekend. The golden rule of NFL playoffs has been that Defense wins championships, and this match up should put a good test to that theory. The Saints have the number one rated pass attack in a season where they averaged 334.2 passing yards per game and Drew Brees shattered Dan Marino’s long-standing passing yard record. The Saints rushing game was solid as well averaging 132.9 yards per game, good enough to be sixth in the league.

The 49ers finished 13-3 with Alex Smith as their Quarterback, throwing for an average of only 183.1 (29th) yards per game. That and the fact that they held opponents to the league’s stinginess 77.2 rushing yards per game tells you enough about the Niners. They are about defense, running the ball and making the most of turnovers. The 49ers defense led the league with a +28 turnover ratio forcing 23 interceptions and 15 fumbles versus 5 of each from their side. Compare that with New Orleans -3 ratio and you can see what one of the major keys of the game is for San Francisco.

At face value and admittedly not having watched the majority of either the Saints or 49ers games I was pretty ready to make the bold prediction that the Niners would shut down the high-flying Saints and win a “we dominated more than the final score illustrates” kind of game. Looking at the regular season games however I may have to give the Saints more credit than I initially thought they deserved.

Continue reading NFL Playoff Preview: Saturday