Posts Tagged ‘New England Patriots’
Tom Brady is a beast: a straight up mercenary of NFL defenses.
Don’t give me all the Spygate, Deflategate, or any other gate asterisks. As much as I would like to cite these factors as the reason he has tormented my Steelers so much, it just does not stand up to scrutiny.
Before the spying was revealed in 2007, the Patriots were 4-1 with him under center, including two playoff wins in Pittsburgh, against my Steelers. His touchdown to interception ratio was 7:3 and his QB rating was 97.9. Pretty damn good, right?
Since the spying was revealed, the Patriots are 5-1 with Brady under center, including scoring 55 points against my team in 2013, most ever against a Pittsburgh team. His TD/Interception ratio is 19:0 and his QB rating is 127.3.
No typos there, folks.
If they were spying before, I wish they would go back to spying today.
He is indeed on my Mount Rushmore of NFL quarterbacks.
The case here isn’t that he is not on the shortlist of greatest of all time. Only that he is not THE greatest of all time, and that isn’t as much due to him as it is us. The primary thing we use to put Brady over say Aaron Rogers is Super Bowl rings. Why is that flawed? Because the “how many rings you got?” is the most superficial and intellectually lazy argument in sports.
If it’s all about the rings, then Jim Plunkett and Doug Williams were both better than Dan Fouts, right? Mark Rypien and Trent Dilfer were better than Dan Marino, right? Of course not, GTFOHWTBS!!!!
Likewise, Tom Brady is not better than Aaron Rogers or Joe Montana, just as Bill Russell was not better than Wilt Chamberlain or Mickey Mantle was not better than Willie Mays.
Football is the ultimate team sport. So how silly is it that we assign credit for winning Super Bowls to one position in these debates? Brady has been instrumental in the Patriots great run. He has not won Super Bowls by himself.
And even if we were inclined to credit him based on individual performances, Brady has been a shadow of his regular season self in the Super Bowls. Consider them one by one: against the Rams he was still in the game manager mold. His MVP in that game was as much based on sports writers’ anti-kicker and defense bias as it was Brady’s performance. Everyone knows Vinatieri was as or more valuable in that game. Against the Panthers he threw 3 interceptions. In other words, he kept both teams in the game.
Against the Eagles, Deion Branch won MVP. Any time a receiver, not named Jerry Rice, wins Super Bowl MVP, it’s an indictment of the QB performance. And don’t let me start on who the real MVP was that game, playing on a barely-heeled broken leg. Hint: the writers are still dissing him in HOF voting and his initials are T.O.!
Granted he torched Seattle, arguably the best defense that he has faced in any Super Bowl. But we all know that but for the worst call in football history (not just NFL but AFL, USFL, College, and High School), the Patriots don’t beat Seattle and Brady would be a .500 QB in Super Bowls going into tonight’s game. As a matter of fact, both he and Belichick are a few plays here and there from being 0-6 in SB’s.
By contrast, Joe Montana’s TD/Interception ratio in 4 Super Bowls is 11:0! That too, is not a typo.
So win or lose tonight, Tom Brady is not the greatest QB of all time.
by Gus Griffin
I hate the Patriots…….but not for the reason you might think. I hate them for the same reason I hate Notre Dame, the Dodgers, Duke, and the Celtics. I HATE THE PATRIOTS BECAUSE AT SOME POINT IN THE PAST THEY BEAT MY BOYS! PERIOD!
I couldn’t care less why they beat my boys. Whether due to cheating, being better, or a combination of the two. Even if it were primarily due to cheating, I still don’t care. All cheating is not created equal. If a prosecutor withholds evidence and as a result wins a conviction to send an innocent man or woman to prison, I care about that cheating. If a person hides income in a divorce proceeding to reduce his/her child support obligation, I care about that cheating. But if Tom Brady and/or Bill Belichick spy on the opponent and/or take air out of some balls to give them and edge at winning some football games, it just doesn’t make my short list of things about which to be outraged.
I am not suggesting that there should be no penalty. If they broke the rules, they absolutely need to be held accountable. But the moral indignation being pontificated is laughable. The citing that this explains the Patriots’ success doesn’t even deserve a response, but I’ll try to provide one nonetheless: “Spygate” was revealed in 2007. Brady went down for the season in the 2008 opener. The Patriots still won 11 games that year WITH MATT CASSEL AT QB! If winning 11 games with Matt Cassel at QB doesn’t convince you that Belichick can flat out coach independent of cheating, I give up. And speaking of 2008, make no mistake about this: if it were revealed tomorrow that the 0-16 Lions both spied and deflated balls as the Patriots have, no one would give a damn. Integrity of the game, blah blah blah…..GTFOHWTBS.
Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports
Team: New England Patriots
Persona: George Clooney
In the entertainment business, one marquee name deserves another. The New England Patriots have won three Super Bowls in the new millennium and are considered by many to be the league’s most recent dynasty. The Clooney factor is as follows: their quarterback is golden boy Tom Brady, their first lady is Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen, and their head coach is master strategist Bill Belichick. Prior to the 2000s the claim to fame for the Patriots was nearly being shutout (scoreless) in the 1985 Super Bowl by the Chicago Bears. Before the television show “ER”, Clooney’s claim to fame was his occasional appearance as Booker Brooks on the television show “Roseanne” – a role as line manager at Welman Plastics. Yeah, that’s basically a shutout. Clooney landed “ER” and the Patriots landed Belichick. Both scenarios produced fertile ground from which success could blossom.
In 2001, “The Danny Ocean” days began. Both Clooney and the Patriots rattled off a trifecta of blockbuster performances. The Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2001 and then back-to-back in 2003 & 2004. Clooney did Ocean’s Eleven and then came back with Ocean’s Twelve and Thirteen, leading 10 other all-stars like he was Tom Brady. After winning three Super Bowls, the Patriots continued their winning ways by taking home eight more AFC East division titles in nine years, producing an undefeated regular season, and appearing in two more Super Bowls – though they lost both. The Patriots and Clooney played some spy games too. Clooney took on a controversial role in the suspense thriller Syriana while the Patriots took on a controversial role in “Spy Gate” – an NFL investigation into the Patriots practice of videotaping the opposing defenses’ hand signals and basically telling Tom Brady where to throw the ball next.
They’re cashing-in on the success, having some fun, and dating some models. Tom picked up Gisele, and George picked up the rest. Relationships with The Patriots and Clooney can be a risky proposition, as both of them tend to only date for a couple of years before they move on to another teammate. The tabloids take their shots every now and then, but the Patriots and Clooney do a great job of keeping their private matters private. Bill Bellichick is not only a master strategist, but he’s also a master at giving up zero information to the public. This talent is passed down to his team like a Jedi force. Clooney is often found speaking more about his philanthropic work than his private life. Clooney recently got married to a bombshell in England and the Patriots signed cornerback Darrell Revis, who plans on preventing bombs from shelling New England. At some point, Gravity might bring them back down to Earth but for now they’re still chilling in the highest stratosphere.
Team: New York Jets
Persona: Nicki Minaj
Have you ever seen the way Nicki Minaj talks down to Mariah Carey on American Idol? Me neither…but with a last name like “Minaj”, I would think she’d take a liking to the voluptuous Ms. Mariah. The thought of a pop rapper talking down to a pop legend success is insane – that’s the NY Jets. Seriously, Nicki is just starting to figure out what her worth is while Mariah knows exactly what her worth is – it’s measured by Forbes every year. The Jets won Super Bowl III back in 1969, which does help to make them popular, but they’re no Mariah. Unfortunately, one Super Bowl and a couple American Music Awards don’t really equal Mariah’s Five Grammy’s or The Patriots 3 Super Bowls!
So why do the Jets and Nicki feel so compelled to mouth off to George Clooney or Jay-Z like they’re Drake? The simple answer is that trash talk comes with the territory. Nicki talks big because that’s part of the Hip-Hop culture. The Jets talk big because that’s part of the NFL’s culture. For a deeper answer as it pertains to the Jets, you have to start by looking at the ownership and work your way down. Jets owner, Woody Johnson, is relatively new to the NFL and he wants to own the back page of the NY Post – a space typically reserved for the biggest story of the day in NY sports. Nicki Minaj wants to own social media like it’s the back page of the NY Post. The NY Giants are often the subject of the back page headline and Woody wants to change that. Nicki wants the headlines like Woody Johnson. Aside from her music, she uses her choice in fashion to accomplish her goal. Woody uses his choice in hiring to accomplish his goal. Woody hired a foul-mouthed head coach named Rex Ryan and Nicki acquired some very bright outfits for the red carpet.
Rex Ryan’s dad was Buddy Ryan, former Philadelphia Eagles head coach – a man who encouraged fights among players on his own team. Early on in Rex’s career with the Jets, he made headlines for his use of four letter words on HBO’s football reality show Hard Knocks. Nicki made headlines early in her career for lyrics that crossed gender roles. As they have matured, Nicki and Rex have started to tone down parts of their personality. Nicki’s wigs aren’t from Crayola anymore and Rex seems like he opens a thesaurus every now and then. Nonetheless, everyone is still left wondering if their bark is bigger than their bite. Let’s just wait and see.
Team: Miami Dolphins
Persona: Lindsay Lohan
Florida is not only home to the Miami Dolphins but it’s also home to Disney World – a place that’s great for the kids and a miserable parent trap for the parents. Lindsay Lohan’s debut Disney film was called The Parent Trap. A child actress could not ask for a more perfect company to work for than Disney. The Dolphins could not ask for a more perfect season than their 1972 Super Bowl season. Everything Disney created around Lohan was a win. Every game the Dolphins played that year was a win. In fact, the 1972 Dolphins are the only team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl after finishing the regular season undefeated.
For more than a decade Lohan and the Dolphins stayed in “The Magic Kingdom” – basking in the glow of their perfect worlds. If Lindsay tried television, Disney made it work. If she tried music, Disney made it work. The Dolphins drafted a legendary quarterback named Dan Marino and Marino carried the Dolphins like Disney carried Lohan. If the Dolphins needed a first down, Marino made it work. If they needed a big play, Marino made it work. The Dolphins practically forgot about running the ball during Marino’s tenure, and still, Marino made it work. Eventually, all good things have to come to an end, and so Lohan left Disney and Marino retired. With NFL records for most passing yards and passing touchdowns in his career, Marino became arguably the greatest passer in the history of the game.
After the Disney era, it was bye-bye Fantasy Land for Lohan and the Dolphins. Since Marino retired in 1999, the Dolphins have experimented with nineteen different quarterbacks – still searching for their next Cinderella. We’re not sure how many different substances Lohan’s experimented with over the past decade, but the story is the same – still searching. A consequence of losing a great quarterback is usually the loss of a team leader. The Dolphins substitute leaders recently came under fire when Jonathan Martin, a second year offensive lineman, quit the team because of unprecedented abuses including bullying and hazing. Without Disney’s guiding light, Lohan has been arrested and placed in rehabilitation clinics for her substance abuse issues. One thing is for sure; it’s time for Lohan and the Dolphins to finally grow up and get it together.
Team: Buffalo Bills
Persona: Billy Bob Thornton
It’s hard to argue with a name like Billy Bob in a city like Buffalo, NY. The Buffalo Bills are as close to a small town team as there is in the NFL and Billy Bob is as close to a small town ego as there is in Hollywood. Buffalo is still a pure sports city: pure fans that like pure football and appreciate pure sportsmanship. Billy Bob is an acting purist who has always sought to be the “anti-film” actor, rarely accepting the blockbuster role. Steering clear of major headlines associated with O.J. Simpson (an iconic member of the 1970’s Buffalo Bills who was the pride of the city until his life fell apart) is testimony to the Bills’ belief in keeping their team as pure as the snow of a Buffalo winter.
Eventually Billy Bob and the Bills found their way into the heat of the spotlight. We’ll call this “The Angelina Era”. Billy Bob married one of Hollywood’s elite, Angelina Jolie. The Bills entered their “Angelina Era” in 1991 when they made it to their first Super Bowl, only to lose to the NY Giants in the closing seconds of the game on a missed field goal by the infamous Scott Norwood. Somehow Billy Bob and the Buffalo Bills are defined by this era despite their disdain for definition. Some of Billy Bob’s biggest acting jobs came while he and Angelina were swapping blood and getting matching tattoos. Some of the Buffalo Bills best players competed and became legends during their Angelina Era (1991-1995) as they made it to the Super Bowl four straight years. Four consecutive Super Bowls is a unique distinction, both because no other team has ever duplicated the feat, and also because no other team has ever lost four straight times. The agony of losing four straight Super Bowls could only be matched by the agony of Angelina Jolie divorcing you and marrying someone like Brad Pitt – you’re just never the same after that.
Billy Bob has vowed to never marry again and he hasn’t really been able find another role as pure as Monster’s Ball or as purely comedic as Bad Santa. The Buffalo Bills lost all of their Hall of Fame talent after the Angelina Era: pure competitors like Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Darrell Talley, and Andre Reid (look them up). There is promise though…Billy Bob is dating a beautiful woman and fathered a daughter while the Buffalo Bills have drafted stand out quarterback EJ Emanuel and top wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Sometimes it’s not about replacing what you had, it’s about moving on without it.
It’s something, right?
The exact dates and times are not yet fixed, but in the first preseason under head coach Chip Kelly, the Birds’ schedule will be as follows:
August 8 – 11: vs. New England
August 15 – 19: vs. Carolina
August 22 – 25: at Jacksonville
August 29-30: at New York Jets
While the preseason is typically not greeted by the most excitement, under a new regime it will provide important insights into what Kelly’s plans are for Philadelphia for the regular season, including how the quarterback situation is shaping up at that time.
So. You ready? Just four months to go.
by Nwaji Jibunoh
It is approximately 2:15am Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and the pre game show is about to begin. An alarm blares as a certain fan is forced to wake up from that early morning slumber, run to the refrigerator to get an ice cold beverage, a light snack, and then turn on the TV; but not too loud for fear of awakening others in that household who may be fast asleep. For the next almost 3 hours, with only friends stateside to talk thrash with via Facebook, an NFL fan is engrossed from half way across the world in the 2013 playoffs.
This is the typical situation that anyone living on this side of the pond (Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East), must go through in order to enjoy the playoffs live and not a broadcast delay the following day when you will pretty much have got the full synopsis of the game by the time the replay comes on.
Football, or better classified as “American Football”, has never been as popular as the other American export Basketball for numerous reasons. The main reason is that a lot of schools in this part of the world don’t have Football programs due to lack of interest and facilities, whereas basketball is quite popular because it is a lot easier to erect a few baskets than it is to buy football equipment. And with basketball being played as a global sport during the Olympics, the rest of the world pretty much understands, appreciates, and loves that particular “American” sport.
However, over the last 10 years with the globalization of ESPN and FOX Sports, there has been a huge introduction of American Football to the rest of the world. With such coverage, you will always find keen sports fans willing to learn something new and have a new team to support. For most people in the States, they support teams based on a particular affinity to either the city the franchise belongs to or certain players. The rest of the world has several different approaches to selecting favorite NFL teams. You ask the majority of Europeans, Africans, or Asians who have never lived or schooled in the United States who their favorite team is, they will either say the New England Patriots or the New York Giants. The reason being is that in the last 10 years, these are the two teams that have featured prominently in the Superbowl finals. And of course, with Tom Brady being married to one of the hottest women in the world, people kind of flock towards the Pats. In addition to that, a lot of new NFL watchers are starting to enjoy the sheer athleticism of the game and also the depth of technical coaching involved. The world’s most popular sport; Soccer, does not have as many playbooks or as many coaches as football does. This peaks a lot of curiosity into how the game is played and how every yard/inch/route/block counts for a victory or a loss.
This year, I have seen a heightened interest amongst sports watchers over the playoffs. Since leaving the United States in 2004, I have not witnessed as much interest in the playoffs from die-hard soccer fans as I am witnessing this year. ESPN International has spent a lot of marketing dollars hyping up certain players/rivalries/legacies/Cinderella stories to the point that folks over here just want to see how everything pans out. There are the traditional Patriots fans, and then amazingly there are Ravens fans all over the place. This is primarily due to people falling in love with Ray Lewis after seeing him do his intro dance, and of course the whole story with this being his curtain call. It is all getting very exciting and I sincerely hope to see more people hosting those early morning Superbowl parties like I have been doing for a long time now.
It is interesting to see the sport grow to the level it is now. It is also interesting to see little minor leagues pop up here and there with flag football tournaments.
With enough time, interest, and understanding of the game, I do believe that the NFL will gain as much popularity as basketball, showcasing how every sport has the potential to truly be a global game.
Nwaji Jibunoh, International Correspondent for War Room Sports
Located in Lagos, Nigeria, Nwaji Jibunoh is War Room Sports’ International Soccer Contributor. Nwaji also contributes commentary on U.S. sports from an international perspective. He’s an Atlanta Falcons fan, Howard University alum, and former tight end for the North Atlanta High School Warriors.
Since the firing of former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo last week, we’ve been waiting for the corresponding shoe to drop on offense.
After head coach Andy Reid’s pronouncement that Mike Vick would remain his starting quarterback and that Marty Mornhinweg would continue to call plays on offense, we knew that no sizable changes were coming on that side of the ball for the Birds.
No, there will be no major, seismic-shift-type changes. But lo and behold, the week after Philadelphia’s bye has produced some shifts, specifically on the offensive line.
The never-ending rotation at left tackle continues with King Dunlap now back to being the starter. Yes, that means that Demetress Bell has been demoted from the position yet again, rightly so after an awful outing against Detroit. CSNPhilly’s Reuben Frank initially reported the change. Many other factors are obviously involved, but the Birds are 2-0 with Dunlap starting at LT and 1-3 with Bell in that role.
The offensive line has been a constant area of struggle for the Eagles this season, starting with the injury to Jason Peters’ Achilles in the offseason. Dunlap’s promotion, which comes after Bell replaced him on the line due to a hip injury, shows that the team is still struggling to get it right.
Philadelphia also made a move on Tuesday to better address depth on the line, which has also been a problem this season. The team announced that backup center Steve Vallos had been released and Matt Tennant was signed.
Tennant (6-4, 300) played with the New Orleans Saints for 28 games in the 2010 and 2011 seasons before heading to New England for 2012. He was released by the Patriots on October 20. Tennant was a 5th-round draft selection of the Saints in 2010 out of Boston College.
To summarize, Tennant will now be the backup to backup Dallas Reynolds, who was the backup for Jason Kelce but became the starter after Kelce suffered an ACL injury. Kelce, by the way, had surgery to repair the tear earlier this week. Hope he gets well soon — he has been sorely missed on the field.
When football enthusiasts hear the name Duane Charles Parcells they may think of a two-time Super Bowl winning head football coach of the New York Giants (’86 & ’90). His resume in the National Football League places him on that monument of coaches from the Lombardis, Nolls, Shulas, and his protege, Belichicks. To some, Parcells was a great coach, not only because he won two Super Bowls, but he resurrected two different franchises which makes his legacy even greater. He brought the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl in 1996, though losing to the Green Bay Packers team. He also brought credibility to the New York Jets by getting them to an AFC championship game. Lastly, the two-time Coach of the Year, Parcells is known to leave franchises in a better position than they were prior to him being there. So, it’s a slam dunk that Parcells should be a rental coach for the Payton-less Saints team this fall. I mean he can’t possibly @#$# up the New Orleans Saints the next ten months, can he?
The real football coach of the New Orleans Saints is Sean Payton, who as of April 1, 2012 will be suspended from coaching his team because he lied to Roger Goodell about the bounties his team were issuing in the NFL. Payton has decided before he has to go into hiatus to make his most daring move as a head coach and bring in his mentor to coach his team. Oh Lord, please, do I really have to listen to the NFL, the “four letter network”, all the sports radio stations and internet sites kissing the Big Tuna’s ring once again? The Tuna’s head is already enormous, and you know he is loving the fact that his name is out there again. What tickles me is he has the nerve to react as if he really isn’t interested in coaching again. I will say it, why not? Tuna, who cares that you will have to wait another five years before being enshrined? The five year rule was made because you kept coming back to coach in the first place. You will have your day in Canton, but I know you can’t resist being on that sideline, especially when you have a chance to win. Your protege is reaching out for help. He trusts you more than anyone to take care of his baby!
This is a note to “Them Saints Fans” (Who That!). I pray that the Big Tuna takes Sean Payton’s offer to coach your football team this fall. As a Cowboy’s fan, I would endorse him myself. I pray that he takes over your team and destroys it the way he did MINE! The best thing about Parcells being the Dallas Cowboy coach was the day he QUIT! His friends in the media announced his retirement, that’s funny because the man QUIT! Mike Rhyner from the Hardline calls him “The New Jersey Con Man” because he is an individual that we thought would bring credibility back to the Dallas Cowboys organization and all he did was defecate all over Jerry Jones. I have never seen the hands-on owner, Jones, so miserable as when the Con Man was the coach. He paid Parcells handsomely right after his divorce settlement in 2002. Those fat pockets didn’t generate any playoff victories, as he went 0-2 in his tenure. I remember listening to his hour-long radio show, daily, doing more talking than coaching. He wouldn’t allow any staff members, players or Mr. Jones to speak with the media. It was The Con Man’s show. The only coach that could get away with that is former coach Jimmy Johnson, who has the skins on the wall with the legendary status here in Dallas. Bill Parcells was a joke down here in Texas and I promise you Jerry Jones couldn’t have been happier by his exit.
Once Parcells retired from the “Big D”, he found another fish in Miami. At least he had some sense not to go back into coaching because of the failure in Dallas; heck his last playoff win was in 1998 as the New York Jets’ coach. The Miami Dolphins organization must have been under the influence giving the Glorified Gym Teacher (thanks Mike Rhyner!) the keys to the kingdom by announcing him as the Executive Vice President of Football (fattening his pockets once again). Didn’t the Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, teach anybody anything? The Con Man cried about not having enough input in player personnel decisions. Upon his departure, Parcells famously stated: “They want you to cook the dinner; at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries”. After Parcells departed New England, Kraft brought in a guy named Belichick, and the rest is history. The Glorified Gym Teacher took over the Dolphins, gutted the coaching staff and team, put his usual Parcells guys in place (he does this everywhere he goes), and by accident in year two, the team won the division, though losing in the first round of the playoffs.
Bill Parcells is a popular guy. He looks comfortable as an analyst on ESPN and should consider staying there. I know all coaches have that burning desire to get back into the game when an opportunity comes available. The Con Man, Glorified Gym Teacher is 70 years old. We have seen that father time passes both athletes and coaches. His act, truthfully hasn’t worked in two decades. His name holds plenty of weight but if you are Sean Payton, step back and ask yourself what has he done lately? Close your eyes and what do you see? Nothing. As a fan, I have already had a mouth full Tuna. No more please.
Well, the biggest sporting event of the year is finally here, Super Bowl XLVI. The 46th installment will feature the Eli Manning-led New York Giants versus Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, who are looking for their 4th Super Bowl ring over the last eleven seasons. I will breakdown each phase of the game: Offense, Defense, Special Teams, for each team and give out my winner against the point spread afterwards.
Also be sure to catch Sports Trap Radio, Saturdays from 10am to 2pm live on http://ueradiolive.com/ , hosted by Brandon Pemberton (@BrandonOnSports) and Chris Marshall (@215_Sports_Guy). We will bring you the realness, each and every Saturday morning, no holds barred, no opinions withheld. Be sure to listen in and feel free to call in and join in on the conversation and debate.
Giants: Eli Manning has had the best season of his career, carrying this team on his back all season. The running game has been pretty non-existent for much of the season, being as though Ahmad Bradshaw missed four games due to a foot injury. Brandon Jacobs, who is one of the team’s emotional leaders, had a mediocre season, averaging only 3.8 yards per carry and compiling 571 yards in 14 games. But offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has done a great job calling plays by running the ball anyway, keeping teams honest and allowing the Giants offensive line to be physical and not retreat all game.
The Giants passing game has been its bread and butter all season and for them to win the game, they will need Manning to continue to play at the elite level that he’s been at over the last two months. People laughed at him during the preseason when he said he was one of the league’s elite, and up to this point he’s done nothing but prove everyone wrong. The trio of wide receivers: Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Mario Manningham are among the league’s best. Add in tight end Jake Ballard, who has been a pleasant surprise in the passing game and you have a deadly offense that can put up points fast.
Keys: The Giants will obviously need to protect Manning, not turn the ball over, and have some sort of running game to be an effective offensive unit and win the game.
Patriots: The Patriots offense is obviously driven by the future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, who is looking for his fourth title and revenge of the Pats’ loss in the title game four years ago. The Pats offense is very explosive, but in a rare way, a way that we’ve never seen in the NFL before to my recollection. The Patriots best offensive weapons are their super duo at tight end, Rob Gronkowski (90 rec, 1327 yards, 17 TD) and Aaron Hernandez (79 rec, 910 yards, 7 TD), but you can’t forget about Wes Welker (122 rec, 1569 yards, 9 TD) as well. Welker has kind of been forgotten because of the excellent play of the tight ends but he will be lined up in the slot against the 3rd corner or Antrel Rolle, who often plays corner in the slot as well. Gronkowski is nursing a high ankle sprain and practiced for the first time on Thursday, so we will see how effective he is during the game. He is Brady’s favorite red zone threat.
Four years ago, the Giants were able to get constant pressure on Brady with their front four defensively. The Pats’ offensive line must do a better job protecting Brady in this game. We all know when he is knocked around and has to move off of his spot and rush, he isn’t as effective. The Patriots don’t have much of a rushing game, but when given the chance, BenJarvus Green-Ellis can be effective. He is a big battering ram, who does well between the tackles, in short yardage situations and at the goal line, as he scored 11 TD’s during the regular season. Danny Woodhead and Stevan Ridley get their fair share of carries as well, and are used in the short passing game.
Keys: Offensive line must protect Brady well; allow him to get comfortable in the pocket, Gronkowski’s ankle: How effective will he be? How long will he be able to play? They will need some sort of deep threat (via Ochocinco or Slater) in the passing game. Also, be on the watch for the Patriots running screens to Woodhead and even Hernandez to slow down the Giants pass rush.
Giants: The Giants’ defense has gotten hot at the right time of the year, and is a big part of the reason why the Giants are playing in this game. The defensive line is putting supreme pressure on the opposing teams’ quarterbacks, and playing well against the run. The linebacker play was brutal the first 13 weeks of the season, but during the last 4 weeks and the playoffs, the linebackers have been great. Led by Micheal Boley and Chase Blackburn, who was on his way to retiring, the linebacker core has been solid against the run and pass. They will have their hands full dealing with the likes of Gronkowski, Hernandez, Welker, and Woodhead in the passing game though.
They might not get a lot of press, but cornerbacks Aaron Ross and Corey Webster are solid pros who don’t make many mistakes in coverage. They are also willing tacklers in the run game and against tight ends and backs out of the backfield. The Giants play three safeties on passing downs plenty, and Rolle, Dion Grant and Kenny Phillips are all good in coverage and devastating hitters as well. They look to separate the ball from receivers frequently.
Keys: They must get to Tom Brady early and often. Get him frustrated, make him rush and he might turn it over. Try to contain the tight ends, when they make catches, they must be tackled immediately.
Patriots: The Patriots defense coming into the playoffs was ranked 31st of 32 teams in yards given up per game. They were in the top half of the league as far as giving up points, ranked 15th as they have given up 21.4 points per game. But in two playoff games they are giving up 325 yards per game and only 15 points. They are doing a decent job right now getting a pass rush and it’s generated not only from the outside, but with a great push up the middle.
Early in the season the Pats were going with a 4-3 base defense and was unable to get any sort of pass rush, and it left the defensive backfield out to dry. Belichick has since gone back to the traditional 3-4, but he often mixes his fronts and personnel as well during games. Nose tackle Vincent Wilfork played out of his mind two weeks ago against the Baltimore Ravens. He was a force in the middle of the line and he dominated the line of scrimmage against the pass and the run. Outside linebackers Mark Anderson and Rob Ninkovich must get pressure on Eli Manning, knock him around, force a fumble, an interception, something. If they allow him to stand back there, he and the trio of receivers will tear this defense apart. The Patriots are solid versus the run and should have no problem stopping the Giants running attack.
The defensive backfield for the Pats will be tested on Sunday for sure. They will have to be at their best going up against the Giants passing game. Whether it’s Nicks down field, Cruz in the slot, or Manningham on the outside, they cannot afford to have any blown coverage, missed assignments, or missed tackles. Expect plenty of Cover 3 and man coverage with two safeties over the top to keep the Giants from making too many big plays down the field.
Keys: Get a pass rush and force Eli into mistakes. No blown coverage, eliminate the giants big plays downfield. Tackle the Giants WR’s after the catch.
Giants: Giants special teams play has been pretty solid all season. Devin Thomas is not only their kick returner, but also one of their best kick and punt coverage guys as well. Lawrence Tynes kicked the game winner two weeks ago, sending the Giants to the Super Bowl and Weatherford did a great job getting the snap down. Their return game is special, Thomas runs kicks and Ross fields the punts.
Patriots: The Pats kicker Stephen Gostkowski made 28-33 FG’s during the regular season. He only attempted 2 outside of 50 yards and made one. Punter Zoltan Mesko is one of the NFL’s best and he does a good job putting punts down between the goal line and 20 yard line. Julian Edelman and Danny Woodhead split the kick return duties, while Edelman returns punts. Edelman has taken a punt back 72 yards for a TD this season.
My Prediction: This is going to be a great game to watch. The Patriots are a three point favorite in Vegas and if the line was a bit bigger I would be certain that they would win. But I don’t know how healthy Gronkowski is and I love the way the Giants are playing as a team right now. Eli Manning could win his 2nd title with a win on Sunday, putting him in the elite of the elite.
Giants 29 Patriots 27
Super Bowl MVP: Hakeem Nicks