So the editor of this site wanted to get the perspective of a Pats fan regarding the Super Bowl. Assuming you’ve stereotyped me already, I will just get it out of the way immediately: My team is better than yours, I think I am better than you, and you need to get over Cameragate, and my dad could beat up your mom…
*Deep exhale*… I feel better.
I was joking with the last sentence.
I’m really not one of those kinds of Pats fans, but I’m sure there are plenty of them out there that have severely annoyed you over the past few years, so I apologize on their behalf. I’m not the most intense Pats fan there is, and I like to think I can stay pretty objective about the team and their place in history and why they’re disliked.
Here is how I think the game will break down.
I like their chances.
I don’t think they’re a shoe-in to win, but I’d rather be on the Patriots than on the Giants right now.
Not being a meathead- I will entertain the hypothetical of the Giants succeeding: for the Giants to win I think they would have to play at least 95% of their absolute best AND have the Pats throw in a clunker.
What scares me most about the Giants is their bruising running tandem matching up with the Patriots linebacking crew late in the game. Coughlin did a brilliant job of saving Ahhmad Bradshaw for the third quarter and perforating the defense for when Brandon Jacobs came back in to. That was a great strategy, and could prove equally effective against the Patriots as well, especially if the Giants offense is able to stay on the field a lot in the first half. That’s how every team tries to beat the Patriots, and the Giants have proven that they can win against teams with that exact strategy.
If the Giants are to win, they will have to do much more than just that, but I think that will prove to be their key to victory.
That being said… Eli, however isn’t particularly scary. At his best he is very efficient, but no better. He won’t single-handedly carve up a defense or steal a win by sheer brute force, but he still can wield an offense very efficiently. Teddy Bruschi, Junior Seau, Adalius Thomas, or Richard Seymour could really rattle his cage at some point(s) too. But if the New York running game comes to eat, Plaxico Burress is still on fire, and if Amani Toomer can actually show up, they could hold their own and make it interesting for a while.
That is if ALL of those happen, mind you.
On the flipside is the Patriots defense, and they tend to be on when the stakes are highest. While it’s fashionable to claim that they have coasted (i.e. underachieved) in the latter half of the season, their zero losses certainly does not support that claim. They’re savvy, clutch and are used to taking a team’s best shot in high-stakes games. They aren’t the sexiest defense, and they’re tackling could be better, but they always come prepared and they never disappoint.
Which brings us to the matchup of the Patriots offense against the Giants defense.
I can’t think of something to tell you about their offense that you don’t already know; except maybe that their offensive line is inhuman and never seems to get any credit. Everyone on the New England offense is not only good, but an “X-factor” of sorts. Brady and Moss can humiliate a defense at any point, if you doubleteam Moss, then Welker is going to eat your lunch, with Stallworth and Gaffney getting his leftovers. At worst Maroney and Faulk can keep you honest and wear down your defense by the 4th quarter- or on a good day, they can take over the game. And even if you don’t let any of the aforementioned singlehandedly beat you- Brady still can with a prolonged efficient attack that is blunder-free. Belichick does an outstanding job of making the opposing defense pick their poison.
I mentioned earlier that the Giants could win if the play 95% of their best game possible. The converse of that is that the Pats will win if the can hold the Giants to playing A- or B+ ball, while eeking out an 80% of their max. That’s how I handicap horse races: If horse A can win at 85% of his max, while horse B would have to run 98% of his max to win, I bet on horse A, since his threshold is much easier to achieve.
That was pretty much what I’d tell someone if I were asked that in mixed company, or a fellow blogger friend asked me to write something for his website.
But what I’d tell my friends from their couch is that I’m quietly (very) confident.
Admittedly, this game seems so easy for the Patriots that I’m just afraid hearing about just how huge an upset this was (if in fact the unthinkable occurred), and how I was such an arrogant anus leading up to the game, that it makes the Patriots (ergo, mine by default) loss all the more hilarious.
That 2% possiblility of vitriolic retribution is basically the only reason I’m not being overwhelmingly obnoxious about this. But back the horse racing analogies; each year there are a lot more horse races than NFL games, and I’ve seen the impossible happen on plenty of occasions (I was at the Belmost where Smarty Jones lost as the 4/5 favorite. You don’t remember that horse? Nevermind).
As an armchair psychologist I also think Eli’s visions of sugarplums dancing in his head are going to get obliterated the first time Seymour or Thomas hits him, and then lands on him.
While I think most people are happy that Eli is no longer laughingstock, that doesn’t mean they have any fear of him outdueling Tom Brady in a Super Bowl- let’s be very honest about that. I keep picturing Eli, fresh off watching his brother’s miracle Super Bowl run, thinking that he’s next, and this is somehow his Manning birthrite and all things will magically fall into place, and instead of going to DisneyWorld, after the game he’ll be awarded a unicorn covered in gum drops, with a tail made of a never-ending supply of cotton candy.
Then once the first two imperfect plays happen, he’ll realize that a win is not inevitable, he’ll panic, then go off to the sidelines and put a rubber nipple on his Gatorade squirty bottle and begin a perma-Eli-face that will continue sometime until the year 2013.
In all honesty, I don’t expect The Super Bowl to be compelling late. The Pats have too many ways too hurt you, and don’t even have to play their pristine best. That is not to say that New York got here by a fluke or poorly represents the NFC- they deserve to be here, but are just not the Patriots, and that’s not an insult.
New York has had a very nice season and have provided some noteworthy storylines – Coughlin became less of a Tyrant, with Tiki leaving and Strahan ostensibly becoming more team-oriented, this team seems to be more cohesive and less suspicious of Eli’s ability, and Eli has transcended under-achieving and is finally showing us that his draft-day arrogance wasn’t completely unfounded. All of those stories tell us that the Giants improved greatly this season in a number of different ways. They are now an elite team, and have had a truly memorable season. But again, unfortunately for them, that doesn’t mean they are in the same class as the Patriots.
I don’t write about the NFL often so I’d like to end this with three admittedly random points that I haven’t seen mentioned in the media so I wanted to do so.
1) Why doesn’t anyone ever credit the Patriots front office? The Patriots have gotten so much media coverage, that despite being maybe the best team of all-time, you cannot say anyone is UNDERrated on that team. It has ALL been said. About the players. But someone put that team together, and it wasn’t the players or the coach. I’m sure Belichick has some suggestions and some sway, but doesn’t write up contracts, or make phone calls to GMs. Scott Pioli deserves a TON of credit.
Think about it. A lot of times when the Pats win, all you do is shrug and say “Well no, shit. If my team had that roster and lost a game, I’d picket the stadium! Of course they win! Quit fawning over Brady when he has that line, those receivers and that defense. I’d hope he could win with all that!” And the front office can’t get credit in post game interviews for PR reasons.
After a lopsided win Belichick can’t say “Well, we are better than them. It’s very easy, our men are more talented than theirs and simply do their jobs better.” That is the height of condescension and even the Hooded One isn’t that bold. After a win he can either 1) praise fellow coaches and/or scouts, and/or, 2) praise his players. AND if he praises the front office, that disnfranchises his players who busted their buns out there. Secondly, when the players are interviewed- they have to either 1) praise their supporting crew, or 2) praise their coach. They can’t praise the front office for the same reason as their coach- you can’t just say “well, we ARE better. That’s why we won. Don’t act surprised if we beat them by 35, I mean seriously, did you look at that roster?”
As a result, the front office doesn’t get much credit. But someone traded a Fourth Round pick for Randy Moss…..
2) Why has no one mentioned Favre blowing ANOTHER NFC Championship? I can’t be the only person who remembers how god effing putrid his interception was against the Eagles in 2005 in OT or late in the 4th he threw such an awful interception that I specifically remembering thinking “he is far too good for that. The mafia really might have something to do with this.” It was worse than abysmal. Then he does it again and no one commented. I’m not the hugest NFL fan out there, there are plenty of people that noticed a resemblence and just kept quiet. Mancrushes will do that to a man.
3) Can we stop with the tired metaphor already of “This guy’s a home-run hitter” this is the 2008 version of “It is what it is”. It sprang up from out of nowhere, worked on some level fairly well at first, then EVERY person used it immediately, and it was excruciatingly tiresome 6 weeks after it’s inception.
What’s wrong with “big play guy”, “deep threat”, “game breaker”, “X-factor” and the like? Since October, you can’t hear an NFL broadcast without hearing “Home run hitter”. Enough. Be original, or at least, don’t pass off banality as something cutting edge.
If anyone hears anything like “Randy Moss is the Patriots home run hitter, and it is what it is” please 1) castrate the commentator, and 2) euthanize me.
Andy Kissko, Rivalfish