Most people know I’m crazy into football, and I posted this on a forum. Since I watch ALL THE GAMES, lot of people have asked me lately on an objective look on how this Super Bowl could potentially play out. Disclaimer’s stated: I am a Giants fan, but most people who know me know I’m a total geek about statistics and play in multiple fantasy football leagues.
As a Jersey girl living in Boston, I get a lot of flack for the teams I like. I also have a lot of fun at my part-time job at a coffee shop talking shop with a lot of the regulars about football. I came up with a lot of what I wrote this morning during my usual morning banter with one hardcore fantasy addict customer of mine. It’s my take on what both Giants and Patriots fans should be on the lookout for while watching the Big Game.
I was born and raised a Jets and Giants fan and I want the Giants to win. Still, I think this is a very balanced matchup because of how the teams are built, which really only leads to memorable games.
The Niners defense was arguably the best in the NFL this season. They allowed for one 100-yard rusher, Marshawn Lynch in Week 16. They have the best Red Zone defense in the league. Their secondaries are solid, although not the best. Still, stuffing the run-game definitely allowed them to at least slow down and stay on pace with the offensive juggernaut capabilities of the Saints, while the addition of a passing game from Alex Smith ended up winning the divisional matchup. And the Giants still beat them.
The Pats were definitely outplayed by the Ravens last weekend. There wasn’t a significant improvement in the offensive line from the week before to last week, and actually, the Ravens lost Michael Oher for a few drives and were able to score and gain field position without him. I made an observation on Twitter that the pocket they were giving Joe Flacco, who is a relatively middling, arguably only-slightly-above-average-talented passer, was so good that he had enough time to make two Bloody Marys AND complete a longball to Torrey Smith. And Flacco was sacked 5 times by a Texans team that outplayed the Ravens in their loss the week before.
The Patriots’ pass-rush as something to be worried about if you’re pulling for them in the Super Bowl. It’s been shaky these past few years since their 18-1 season. Bill Belichick, an on-point but awesome control freak, assigned his safeties coach to be the de-facto defensive coordinator, but you don’t have to be a genius to see who really runs the defensive show in Foxboro. Belichick was a pretty great defensive coordinator for the Jets before he went to the Pats, but with his combined duties as head coach, his lack of DC for his team has really come to light with their major defensive problems. The Pats’ pass-rush and defense as a whole did marginally better versus the Ravens but the thing that’s troubling is their consistency. 21 unanswered points to the Bills in the first quarter of Week 17?! That’s scary stuff. Sure, they ended up offensively killing it to make up for the deficit, and a win is a win, but the Bills are not the Giants. Slipping like that early on could cost them the game.
The Giants are one of the best-built 9-7 teams the NFL has seen in recent years. A lot of their inconsistency was due to huge injuries that sidelined many All-Pros, like Osi Umeniyora, Hakeem Nicks, and Ahmad Bradshaw. But looking at the Giants’ injury report, all of these major players are healthy and well-prepared for this matchup. Umeniyora, Pierre-Paul and Ware are SCARY when they are all active. And the Giants put up enough yardage and points to match it, with great skill and balance in their big-play wide receiver core and devastating run game. Eli Manning is no Joe Flacco. Manning was downed by the elite San Francisco defense 18 times, 6 sacks and 12 hits, yet he still threw for 316 yards and 2 touchdowns. If the Pats give him enough time to find an open receiver, it could spell doom for the team.
While I’d like to see the Giants win, they have been very susceptible to momentum shifts this season, so if they don’t put up enough points early (a la Packers game), with all the balanced skill in the world, they may still not win or come close to losing (a la 49ers game). The Patriots also have been very reactive this season. No large lead is comfortable against the Patriots this year, just ask the Bills and the Dolphins.
I am terrible at predicting winners for games and when I played in casual pick ’em leagues I would’ve probably done better flipping a coin. Still, I’m comfortable in saying that the Giants have more of a consistency advantage, and that they have a very good shot at going all the way.