After an incredible day of Conference Championship games, the participants of Super Bowl 2012 have been determined: New York Giants vs New England Patriots, a rematch of Super Bowl 2008.
The Patriots reached the Big Game by fully leveraging their home field advantage. They easily beat the Broncos, and then advanced to the Super Bowl when the Ravens’ kicker, Billy Cundiff, missed a 32-yard field goal in the final seconds of the game. The Patriots were excellent on offense during the regular season, as they have the #2-ranked offense in terms of total yards in the NFL. Their defense was next to last, though. They were especially vulnerable to passing, giving up almost 300 yards per game. The only team that was worse was Green Bay.
The Giants reached Super Bowl 46 by first beating Atlanta at home, then won on the road at Green Bay and at San Francisco. In the regular season, the Giants were also a strong offensive team, as they ranked #8 in terms of total yards. Their defense was also suspect, giving up the 6th-most yards in the NFL.
Here’s how I see the matchups:
Patriots Offense vs Giants Defense
Patriots boast a strong offense, and they were able to score enough to get by the Ravens, arguably the best defense in the NFL. On the other hand, the Giants defense had two things in their favor: they were able to slow down the Patriots offense when they met in the regular season, and they were able to slow down the Packers in Green Bay (which I didn’t think was possible) in the playoffs. Based on this, I’d say this is an even matchup.
Giants Offense vs Patriots Defense
One can argue that the Patriots defense has yet been truly tested in the playoffs en route to Super Bowl. The Giants offense, on the other hand, was one of the few good offenses that were balanced between run and pass. Eli Manning is a good passer, but they also have a strong ground game. Given how susceptible the Patriots defense has been against the pass, I’d expect the Giants to find success passing. Edge to the Giants offense.
The argument for the Patriots is that since the Giants have already beaten them once during the regular season, the Patriots would win this time because it’s really difficult to beat a good team twice in the same season. The argument for the Giants is that since they had to win on the road to get to the Super Bowl, it seemed like they were destined to win. Both coaches and both quarterbacks have been to the Super Bowl before, so it’s a wash on that end. Overall, I’d say the intangibles are even.
I predict the final score to be Giants 24, the Patriots 21. The Giants defense will do just enough to slow down Tom Brady & Company. The Patriots defense will play better than their stats indicated, but it won’t be enough against the balanced attack of the Giants.