When trying to figure out both what team I want to win and which team I think will win this evening's Super Bowl XLVI,I had a hard time with either question. Did I want the team that shouldn't have beaten the Baltimore Ravens to win so that we could say we lost to the eventual winner, or did I want to see them get killed to get some sort of revenge?
Did I think the Patriots had enough of an offense to outscore the Giants under-rated one, or did I think the New York defense could harass Brady enough so that their pretty average defense would fold under the pressure from the choice of wide-outs for Eli Manning to throw deep to?
Tough decisions abound for this game. However, I've come to the conclusion, with a little help from Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, who put it a bit into perspective when I asked him about it at the "State of the Ravens" press conference earlier this week. Bisciotti said he was rooting for the AFC, but wasn't even sure if he was watching the game at all.
(Click on the 'Jump' to read more and see my prediction and score for Super Bowl 46)
It's tough to bet against Tom Brady in almost any game, as he usually finds a way to win and can surgically pick apart a pass defense that is not up to the task. The big question is what Giants defense we will see tonight, the one that finished not much better than the Patriots one in the regular season or the one that has been stellar in the post season, winning road games at the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers to get to Indianapolis.
I'm going with the latter, thinking that the New York pass rush will be the difference in the game, as New England's pass pressure will not come close to comparing unless they bring extra blitzing players, which will spell doom agains the likes of the Giants receivers, all three who are deep threats to score off of any pass.
New England's receivers are not the same type of threat, as they utilize more of a dink-and-dunk approach to moving the ball downfield with pinpoint accuracy, while New York will heave it up and watch someone come down with it or break off a huge gain after the catch. The more dangerous offense is definitely the Giants, although we've seen the numbers that Brady can put up.
The Giants own a huge advantage in the running game, so if the Pats want to pin their ears back and blitz Manning all game, Eli will make them pay with either of his two running backs or a quick hit to a speedy wide-out who will then be off and running. The short-yardage advantage as well as the ability to control the clock goes to the Giants.
The coaching advantage is close than you think, but in no way can you ever not give the advantage to Bill Belichick, who with a win, will tie the all-time coaching greats with Super Bowl victories, along with his soon-to-be legendary QB. This game could very well come down to who has the ball last and a last-second field goal (sound painfully familiar, Ravens fans? Ouch.).
I see Eli Manning being more efficient that Tom Brady, although I expect Brady to throw more and have bigger numbers. However, I do see the Giants pass rush getting to Brady and he just does not respond as well to that and can be forced into mistakes. The Giants will win the time-of-possession battle and the battle in the trenches, two of the more important things that usually determine the outcome of most games, including this year's Super Bowl. This year we will have a "new" winner: NEW York over England.