Five weeks ago, on December 29th of last year, I sat down as I had done many times in the past in seat 18 of row 25, Section 138 at Giants Stadium. Never had I felt so privileged to have season tickets for the Giants. The reason for this is because I was sitting in a win-win situation. If the Patriots were to win, I would be witnessing the first NFL team to ever go 16-0 in the regular season. If the Giants were to win, my favorite team would be the only team to knock of the undefeated Pats, which would establish them as a powerhouse in the NFL rankings and preserve history for the undefeated 1972 Dolphins. The question I found myself asking before kickoff was...which Giants team would show up? Ask any true Giants fan, and they will agree that you never know which Giants team will show up.
The Giants got off to an early start, marching down the field for a score immediately. Throughout the game Tom Brady and the Patriots answered and when they found themselves down by more than one score in the 3rd quarter, Brady kept his composure and led the Pats back as he had done so many times in his illustrious career. A breakdown in coverage that left Moss wind open downfield was the final dagger, as the Pats won 38-35. The Giants put forth an effort that night on national television that had every analyst and sports fan showing respect for the team.
It was amazing, how that respect was not considered enough just one week later, when every pre-game analyst picked Tampa Bay to give the Giants an early exit from the playoffs. After a dominant 24-14 victory, the Giants once again impressed analysts, yet no one gave them a chance to take down divisional rival and NFC powerhouse, Dallas. After a thrilling 21-17 victory over Dallas, analysts said Manning could not play in the cold weather and every analyst, aside from Terry Bradshaw, picked Green Bay. After a game-winning, 47 yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes in overtime, the Giants found themselves in the Super Bowl, a place no one ever would have predicted they'd be after two embarrassing losses at the start of the year to Dallas and Green Bay.
So now that the Giants have made it through what is believed to be the worse of the two NFL conferences, they come face to face with the decade's greatest team. A dynasty in possession of 3 Super Bowl trophies in the last 6 years. A team that has 20 players with at least one Super Bowl championship playing a team that has only 3 players that have ever even been to the Super Bowl. In addition to all of this, the Patriots have an undefeated season on the line and the opportunity to be deemed the greatest team in NFL history as extra motivation to win.
The Giants have to hope that the pressure becomes all too much for the Patriots. It does not seem likely that it will, seeing as the Patriots are the best prepared team in football and have survived every scare of the season so far. Nothing can seem to crack their composure.
So how can the Giants possibly win? Well, the truth is...it may take a lot of luck. The Giants have few advantages over the Patriots in matchups, however they do seem to have a better Special Teams and possibly the best defensive front seven in football. The Giants returned a kickoff for a Touchdown in week 17 against the Patriots and they may have to do it again in order to win. If the special teams can win the Giants the field possession game they have a chance. This means Jeff Feagles, the Giants punter, needs to pin the Pats back as close to their end zone as he can, and Hixon and McQuarters need big returns on both kickoffs and punts to shorten the field the Giants need to go down to score on the Pats. As for the Giants defensive front seven, it is essential that they get pressure on Tom Brady. In the Pats closest games this year the Ravens, Eagles, Colts, and for a small percentage of the game, the Giants, were able to get pressure on Brady. In so many of their blowouts this season Brady had all day to stand in the pocket and find open receivers. If the Giants defensive front can mix up their blitz packages, come after Brady, and get some hits on him, forcing him to throw the ball when he isn't ready to, Brady will make mistakes. The Giants need to capitalize on these mistakes if they do happen. Their secondary cannot afford to drop interceptions like they have the past few weeks, because if you give Brady a second chance, he will hurt you.
Lastly, the Giants need to make sure they do not commit stupid penalties. A key third down penalty that would have resulted in the Giants getting the ball gave the Pats the opportunity to march down field and score a Touchdown in week 17, which proved to be very costly. The Pats do talk a lot of trash, especially Brady, so the Giants need to make sure they keep their cool and just go out there and have some fun.
As you can see, the only way to beat Perfection, is to play a perfect game.
Call me crazy, but even as a true Giants fan that always expects the worst out of them, I think they can somehow pull it off. Their defense has seen tremendous improvement over the past few weeks. Eli Manning is starting to look a lot like Peyton out there on the field and I do believe the Giants are playing with a passion and a fire that gives them a chance. They have a young defense that has seem driven to be perfect since the opening Pats drive of the week 17 game at Giants stadium and I think the youth they have on that defense might give them the stamina they need to stop the Pats high-powered offense on that last drive. If Jacobs and Bradshaw can control the clock and Eli continues to play the way he has been the past few weeks, confident and composed, the Giants can control the clock and have a legitimate shot to pull it off. Not to mention, the Super Bowl is held in Arizona, and the Giants 10-0 record in their last 10 road games seems to be a comforting statistic for them.
My Prediction: Giants 30 - Patriots 27
Image taken from ESPN.com