I may have only gotten half of the conference championship picture right, but did you really pick the 49ers over the Saints and the Giants over the Packers?
And I’m glad I didn’t get in a post on the conference championship previews like I intended. I went with an all-Harbaugh Super Bowl. (Hey, one play in either game could’ve made that happen.) But enough about trifles, on with Super Sunday.
Super Bowl XLVI
Tale of the Tape: Week 9 – NY Giants 24, New England 20. This game was won without Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks, who should contribute big in the Super Bowl. So what points to the Pats having any shot in the rematch?
First, what won’t happen. ESPN’s Dan Graziano stated that Brandon Jacobs needs to come up big for the Giants to win. Sorry, Jacobs is not the X-Factor. Despite 72 yards and a touchdown against the Pats in the first meeting while filling in for Bradshaw, Jacobs will take a backseat with limited touches. He has under 25 rushing yards in three of the last four games – all wins.
Similarly, Ron Gronkowski, who should otherwise be able to tear up the Giants’ D, is not at 100% with a nasty ankle sprain suffered at the end of the game against the Ravens. Reports of him trotting in practice without a limp say very little about his condition. He had his walking boot removed on Tuesday and might not be well enough to beat the secondary for his customary long, over the middle routes. I can see under 60 yards and no scores for the behemoth tight end, which gives Brady one less target to throw to.
Speaking of Brady, he’s coming off his worst game of the season and his first without a single touchdown pass, snapping a 35-game streak. But he’ll bounce back with what I expect to be a flawless effort against the team who gave him his only Super Bowl loss four years ago. If he doesn’t–and let’s not forget the Giants made Aaron Rodgers look like a QB playing in his first playoff game in the divisional playoff game–the Giants cap one of the most impressive postseasons in history.
MVP: Tom Brady – In a high-scoring affair, the only one I can see taking this away from the franchise QB is Wes Welker, who had 9 catches for 136 yards in the two teams’ first meeting. (Santonio Holmes won MVP honors two years ago with 9 catches for 131 yards and 1 TD, albeit the game winner with under a minute left.) However, Welker has been held to under 60 receiving yards in 4 of his last 5 games and Gronkowski is hobbled so the obvious choice would be Brady, whose optimal game–wait for it–could go north of 350 yards and 4 scores.
New England 31, NY Giants 28