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Saturday, February 2, 2008

18 Down, 1 To Go: Super Bowl XLII Preview

One thing I'm going to miss in California is really getting to watch the Patriots this season. It doesn't take a footbal genius to realize that this year could be special for them. If they stay healthy, this team is easily one of the best during my lifetime. They're right up there with the '85 Bears, '89 49ers and '93 Cowboys.

This team is just talented, plain and simple. I honestly don't think they'll go 16-0, but this team has a really good shot. Only time will tell what this team will do, but you have to like their chances to win their fourth title in seven years.
- Mikey Filmmaker 9/25/07

That's from this blog way back in September. As you can tell from that post, I was optimistic, but didn't think it was realistically possible. After a couple close calls and some major blowouts, here we are on the eve of Super Bowl XLII. The Patriots are 18-0. It's not the flashy game we wanted (Patriots vs. Packers), but it's a game that will not disappoint (I think). How can anyone think this won't be a good game? These teams met a little more than a month ago and the final score was 38-35. That's three points if I can add.

So, the Giants actually have a shot? Let me just write it like this, any team has a shot in the NFL playoffs. Why? Because you only play one game. For years, I've been a firm believer that if the 2001 Patriots played the 2001 Rams ten times, the Rams probably would have won eight or nine times. They really were the better team, but the Patriots were the better team on that February day back in 2002.

Still, I would have many concerns if I'm a Giants fan. It's quite a long list really. Starting off, why did Plaxico open his mouth. You can say all you want about the Patriots being "dirty", but they never make foolish predictions on the outcome of any game. It doesn't matter if it's the playoffs, regular season, or pre-season. They just show up to play and win. Worst of all, the prediction was 23-17. 17 points by the team that set the single season scoring record? There is absolutely no way the Patriots score only 17 points. Especially, not in the environment of Glendale, AZ. This isn't East Rutherford or Foxboro.

People also fail to realize that Eli Manning played over his head during their last game. Can he repeat that performance? It's possible, but highly unlikely. I have no trust in the last name Manning when it comes to the playoffs. You could make the argument that Peyton won last year, but he was lucky. The guy has a horrible track record. His father (Archie) had a horrible postseason record. So unless Eli was adopted (don't believe he is), he will probably follow suit. Here is Eli's stat line from that game:

22/32 for 251 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT

That's damn good. Most teams beat their opponents when their quarterback puts up those numbers. So, that right there tells you that Eli NEEDS a repeat performance.

The Giants also had some lucky plays in that game. They started the game off with a deep bomb that set them up with great field position. They also had a kick return for a touchdown after the refs called Randy Moss for a questionable unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (Remember the little dance Moss did after his record tying touchdown?), which forced Gostkowski to kick further back. Domenik Hixon capitalized on that and returned the ball 74 yards.

Here are some other tidbits from that game. The Giants managed to turn the ball over only once. They held Patriots rushing to 44 yards. And, they had the lead entering the fourth quarter. Yet, with everything going their way, they STILL lost.

That goes to show you why the Patriots are 18-0. They can just beat you any way possible. One of my fellow readers made a comment way back about how you can stop Randy Moss. Well, I assured him that you have to worry about Wes Welker, Donte Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney, George Washington, and Jesus Christ. They have a respectable running attack with Maroney and Faulk. Their offensive line is ridiculous and also look like lumberjacks (enough to scare any man). And yes, their offense is run by "The Immortal" Tom Brady (clearly stealing that from Hulk Hogan and the WWE).

The Giants need to take Brady out of this game. I repeat, the Giants need to take Tom Brady out of this game. And that starts with the best pass rush in the league led by Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora. If they can apply pressure and force Brady out of the pocket, then it will completely get him out of sync. He'll be force to make bad throws. With all those bad throws, the secondary can then capitalize and make an interception or two.

The Giants also want to keep Brady and the Patriots off the field. They want to control the time of possession, which was similar to what the franchise did back in Super Bowl XXV against the Bills (ironically it was Belichick who came up with that gameplan for the G Men). The time of possession in Week 17 was 36:18 for the Patriots and 23:42 for the Giants. That's not going to cut it.

Maybe it's a horrible reference, but in Super Bowl XXV, the Giants controlled the clock 40:33 including 22 minutes in the second half. The time of possession victory forced Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, and co. to sit on the bench. And, when they came on the field they never developed any rhythm. It also forced the defense to stay on the field and be absolutely exhausted. Shifting back to present day, can you imagine the Patriots aging defense being on the field for 40:33? It would be football suicide.

I really think this game starts with the Giants controlling the tempo. They need to have the lead (like they did in Week 17) and control the clock. If they don't dictate the game, the Patriots will pass and run all over them. And, it will be a shootout that the Giants won't be able to keep up with.

Looking back at my initial paragraph. This probably will be a game that will disappoint every non-Patriots fan in the world (blowout). Although, for the rest of us, we can cherish the moment and tell the future generation of Patriot fans how we witnessed greatness at its finest hour. Perfection in an NFL season for the only the second time ever. That's special.

The Patriots have been called the greatest team in history for a reason. They will prove it on Sunday. The offense will be too much. Eli will not repeat his previous performance and Giants don't have enough weapons. I also think the weather will be a huge advantage for the passing game. The Giants' secondary is not too impressive and won't be able to cover the Patriots' receivers all day. Tom Brady will have a huge day en route to another Super Bowl MVP. I'm thinking four touchdowns (two for Moss). The Patriots have been on a mission all year and they won't stop at nothing to complete their goal: perfection. 19-0, baby, 19-0!

Final Score:
Patriots cover the spread and finally win a Super Bowl by more than three points. My gut feeling is 38-14 to match the final score of Week One and also win me the final quarter in my football square pool. What? I can't dream?

Plaxico Burress
Winner: Giants
Score: 23-17
Super Bowl MVP: Did not answer, but probably himself.
Why the Pats or Giants will win: Remains unanswered.

Reader Predictions:

What have I learned from them:
- Well, for one thing, looks apparently win football games at least according to the ladies.
- Most people think the Pats will score in the low 30s/high 20s and the Giants will be somewhere in the high teens. This could be because people forget the Pats haven't played in an ideal climate for some time, so they figure their offense will be slower.
- Tom Brady is the favorite to win Super Bowl MVP. It's hard not to pick him if they win although there seems to be some support for Wes Welker and even Laurence Maroney, both who would have be deserving.
- No one likes the Giants (Granted most of these predictions were made from people in New England, but there still is no area of doubt.).

Kyle Dickinson
Winner: Patriots
Score: 42-24
Super Bowl MVP: Tom Brady
Why the Pats or Giants will win?: Pats defense will step up after giving up some early TDs, and Brady will remind us that he threw 50 during the season.

Winner: Patriots
Score: 24-17
Super Bowl MVP: Tom Brady
Why the Pats or Giants will win: The Pats will win because Tom is cuter than Eli.

Winner: Patriots
Score: 31-10
Super Bowl MVP: Brady
Why the Pats or Giants will win: The patriots will win because Tom Brady has the power to channel black stallions at will. With one spritz of stetson the man turns into the human power embodiment of Black Beauty.

Carol Cersosimo
Winner: Patriots
Score: 28-21
Super Bowl MVP: Tom Brady
Why the Pats or Giants will win?: The Patriots will win because Tom Brady is a better Quarterback & much better looking than Eli.

Mark D
Winner: Patriots
Score: 35-17
Super Bowl MVP: Tom Brady
Why the Pats or Giants will Win: The Pats will win as they are the superior team and will complete their perfect season and go 19-0.

Melissa Cersosimo
Winner:  Patriots
Score:  27-17
Super Bowl MVP:   There was this player who ran really fast down the side line and almost scored a touchdown.  I found out his name is Laurence Moroney.  I think he should win.
Why the Pats will win:   Because they have more Superbowl experience and they will now how to play a better game.  Also, we always kick New York's butt. HA HA

Lou Cersosimo
Winner:  Patriots
Score:  27-21
Super Bowl MVP:   MVP will be the one and only Wes Welker
Why the Pats will win: The Pats will win because they are way better than the Giants. That's all I have to say.

Andrew Cliffe
Winner: Patriots
Score: 38-20
Super Bowl MVP: Tom Brady
Why the Pats or Giants will win?: Giants have bad safties...and an old and rookie cbs...and they suck each other off before games.

Carlos Abrisqueta
Winner: Patriots
Score: 30-17
Super Bowl MVP: Wes Welker
Why Pats or Giants will Win (This can be a couple words or a couple paragraphs): They are considered one of the best teams in NFL history.

Lori Cersosimo
Winner: Patriots
Score: 28-17
Super Bowl MVP: Tom Brady
Why Pats or Giants will Win (This can be a couple words or a couple paragraphs): Since they already won 18 in a row, why not make it 19?

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