If you thought this year’s Super Bowl would be pretty damn easy to pick, you’re pretty damn wrong.
While the amount of Patriots fans and Patriots supporters/pickers that are stocking up cash to bet on the 18-0 Pats this weekend are saying this game is easily going to be a blowout, it’s easier to say this game is going to be close. Why shouldn’t it be? What’s wrong with this Super Bowl being close?
Any die-hard Patriots fan that has the utmost respect for his team’s adversaries will tell you that he/she is nervous. On the brink of history, the Patriots (as mentioned) are 18-0 and are one game from cementing themselves as the greatest football team of all-time. But, as the world knows it, the Patriots have been slapped in the face by pressure more than they’ve ever dealt with it.
Through a season that seen the Patriots overcome a cheating/spying scandal, triumphant victories late in the game and scoffs from other teams’ players, the Pats look more undeterred than ever. On the TV screen, a smiling Tom Brady face and a usually dull Bill Belichick faces are more constant than ever. But, underneath the silver lining, are the Patriots sweating bullets?
They New York Giants haven’t lost a road game since September 9 (Week 1). They have won 10 straight games on the opponents grass since then. On Sunday, they will technically be playing a road game, too. To many this calls a cause for concern for the Patriots. For others, it’s not. John, one of my buddies from Rhode Island told me earlier this week, “Troy, the Giants have won 10 straight road games, but the Patriots have won 18 straight games. If anyone should be scared that their streak is going to end, it should be the Giants.”
According to many, the Giants are an average team that caught hot late and never looked back. To others, they stand alone when the term ‘destiny’ is spoken and believe it’s their time to glow, not the Patriots. “History is ours,” says Michael Strahan. We’ll see, Stray.
The Patriots perfect season came into jeopardy three times this year. When they played the Eagles, Brian Westbrook arranged a meeting with the Patriots’ linebackers (Tedy Bruschi, Junior Seau, Adalius Thomas and Roosevelt Colvin) where he dashed down the field showcasing dazzling speed and roughening power. When they ran into the Ravens, the Patriots were just a timeout short from all but losing their perfect season. On 4th and 1 the Ravens stopped the Patriots with 1:48 left to play. The game was theirs. However, a timeout by the Ravens coaching staff allowed the Patriots another chance. And one minute and forty-four seconds later, Tom Brady connected with Jabar Gaffney on an 8-yard touchdown pass.
However, in Week 17 the Patriots ran into a familiar foe. Let’s say, a significant foe at that. The New York Giants. In the third quarter with six minutes to go, the Giants commanded a 12-point 28-16 lead over the Patriots before Tom Brady and Randy Moss bolted back into the game to finish off the Giants and defeat their future opponents in the Super Bowl 38-35.
The Giants are possibly the scariest team the Patriots would possibly want to play right now. Scarier than what the Colts would have been in the AFC Championship. Scarier than Brett Favre and the Packers, Tony Romo and the Cowboys. The Giants just lost to the Patriots a few not-so-many weeks ago. They know how the Eagles lost and they know how the Ravens lost. But more importantly, they know how they lost. They are more understanding than ever now of taking advantage of every opportunity of forcing the Patriots into 3-and-outs and wearing down the New England defense. Though, it’s easier said than done.
But is that last statement very congruent to the Patriots and their philosophy on the football field, or, their mentality? The Giants have to work on their faults from that game, but the Patriots have to correct what they did wrong, too. The Giants offensive line overpowered their defensive line, Eli Manning was given too much time to pass, the receivers outsmarted the Patriots defensive backs, they gave up too many runs by Brandon Jacobs where Jacobs exploded into the defensive backfield. Though, likewise, it’s easier said than done.
Media Day was just as buckwild as usual. A reporter arrived in a wedding dress, there were stupid questions and as usual, a guy that just can’t keep his mouth shut. That guy was Giants Wide Receiver Plaxico Burress on Tuesday, when he told media members that his team was going to beat the Pats 23-17.
Tom Brady responded [to media members] by saying that he didn’t mind Plax predicting the score of the game aloud, he just felt shafted by Burress saying that the Patriots are only going to score 17 points this weekend on a field that fits the New England offense’s style. Much like what happened to Anthony Smith, there’s a target on Plaxico Burress and it’s expanding larger and larger.
Michael Strahan told news presses that, “every player on both teams, all 53 guys on both teams, expect their team to win. Do you expect us to say we’re going to lose? No. We think we’re going to win and we’re going to say it. They’re under pressure. We’re not. We have the advantage.”
Maybe so, Mike, but keep your chin up and keep your mind focused. This Sunday isn’t going to come by easy.
The Giants’ edge rushers will make the biggest difference in this one. They’ll get pressure on Brady and that’ll be what ultimately wins them this game.
Troy’s Call: 33-31 Giants