A Giants fan and a Patriots fan, their cubicles separated by a mere 10 feet, have talked trash for two weeks leading up to Super Bowl XLVI. They’ve at last settled on a friendly wager: The fan of the losing team has to decorate his cube for a full week with newspaper headlines celebrating the winner. They make their predictions for the big game below.
Why the Giants will win
A Rollercoaster Season Has New York Playing on Another Level By Matt Tuthill To other Giants fans over the past eight years, I’ve often felt like Eli Manning’s lawyer. I’ve heard complaints about his body language, his leadership ability, the vacant facial expression, that hair seemingly ruffled in the ball pit at Chuck-E-Cheese. I’ve heard it all and admitted that there might be better quarterbacks out there, but that Giants fans shouldn’t be greedy, not after floundering for so long without a franchise QB. Not after Dave Brown and Kent Graham. Not after the sometimes great, but oftentimes atrocious run of Kerry Collins. Having Eli, I told them, would pay off one day. Before the Super Bowl XLII victory, I was able to point to a moment during Eli’s 2004 rookie season as evidence. It was the final game of the regular season, and the Giants weren’t going anywhere. At 5-10 and riding an eight-game losing streak, one more loss wouldn’t make much of a difference, and Dallas was poised to hand it to New York. But Eli rallied the team from a 16-7 fourth quarter deficit with two touchdown passes and handled the final drive with an eerie poise I’d never seen in him before. As the moment got bigger, and the tension seemed to consume other players around him, Eli got better somehow. I’ve supported him every since that day, even when he made it so incredibly hard to do so. For whatever technical flaws he had, including a spiral that seemed too loose for the heavy winds of the Meadowlands, he would make up for it with that attitude. Playoff games and Super Bowls would never be more than a game to Easy Eli. Eli has, of course, grown exponentially since that day, and there are dozens of better examples of his grace under fire, not the least of which is his fourth quarter for the ages in Super Bowl XLII. Giants fans have come to realize that as long as Eli Manning is their quarterback, they’ll never be out of any game, no matter what the deficit might be. That’s a good thing, because the Giants have certainly needed their share of Manning Magic this year. There have also been a few occasions where Manning couldn’t rescue them from the hole they had dug. See the four-game losing streak that nearly destroyed the season. Hence, a lot has been written about how bad the Giants were this season, how they’re on the cusp of becoming the worst team to ever win a Super Bowl by virtue of their 9-7 regular season record. What’s forgotten in that argument is that the streak included losses to Green Bay, San Francisco, and New Orleans, arguably the best three teams in the NFL. The Patriots, meanwhile, hadn’t won a game against a team with a winning regular season record until the AFC championship game against the Ravens. That’s no knock. You don’t create your own schedule in the NFL. The Patriots should be applauded for winning games they were supposed to win, because so few talented teams do that. Just ask the Giants about the Redskins and Seahawks. But there is a lot to be said for having faced real adversity, for having both flown high and completely bottomed out. And having stared death in the face over and over, the way the Giants are playing right now speaks to what that experience can do for a team. It can solidify a unit, make them believe, and get them playing as if losing isn’t even possible. That’s the buzz saw that awaits New England in Super Bowl XLVI. For as much as the Giants have depended on late Manning Magic, it comes early on Sunday. The world gets to see that Eli really isn’t so different from his older brother, Aaron Rodgers, or Drew Brees. That he really is a top five QB. Forced into an early hole, the Patriots will become one-dimensional, and allow the Giants’ demonic pass rush to fly around reckless. We’re long overdue for a blowout Super Bowl that’s all but decided by halftime, and that’s where this is headed. Football fans have been spoiled in recent years, lulled into thinking that the big game is going to be a hard-fought close affair, the most exciting game of the season. Oh, it’ll be exciting alright. But only for Giants fans. Prediction> Giants 31, Patriots 10
Why The Patriots Will Win
Legacies are Cemented with New England’s Super Victory By Sam DeHority A Note… Before I get into why the Patriots are going to be raising the Lombardi trophy, there is something that needs to be addressed. Neither of these teams “wowed” us getting into the Super Bowl. I wouldn’t even say either of these teams really won (obviously, they did) their respective championship games. The Niners and Ravens simply blew it. New England had their ticket punched thanks to a missed field goal attempt; New York had its trip gift wrapped in the form of a costly fumble on a punt return. Neither team should be riding high on their way into Indy, and all the bravado and confidence they’ve shown during media week is a bit peculiar. But I digress… Defense It’s sometimes difficult watching this incarnation of the Patriots play, with their Jekyll and Hyde-esque team, knowing that for every touchdown scored by the offense, the defense will almost certainly allow the opposition to score one. No game was wrapped up until the final few seconds ticked off the clock. But then the playoffs rolled around, and things changed. The Patriots torched the Broncos, who, don’t forget, rolled to a 16-7 lead in the second quarter of their first meeting this season. They locked up Ray Rice and held him to 67 yards (compared to 159 in ’09) rushing with no touchdowns. They’re coming together at the perfect time, and if the defense can maintain this level of play, they’re going to surprise Eli and the Giants. The Giants They’re playing well, make no mistake about it. But the issue here is that they are going to try and beat the Patriots at their own game. This isn’t a team with a grinding defense – they’re ranked 29th in pass defense and 19th in the rush, and they make their living scoring, and scoring often. You want to pit Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, and Hakeem Nicks up against Brady, Welker and Gronk in a shootout? I’ll take that every day of the week, and twice on Sundays. Elite QB There’s talk of how this Super Bowl is the stage where Eli proves he’s an elite QB, that he deserves to be in the conversation with Brees, Rodgers, Peyton and Brady. But he doesn’t. For all of the grace under pressure he has demonstrated in recent weeks, this is a guy that led his team to a 9-7 record. An elite QB doesn’t let his team drop four games in a row, he doesn’t slide into the playoffs thanks to a magical three week run, and he certainly doesn’t lose to the Seahawks and Redskins (twice). Tom Brady Tom is the class of his generation, and he knows his window is closing. He’ll be out to cement his legacy and shut down the only team that robbed him of a championship. He’s elite. He’s ready. And he’s not going to be beaten. Prediction: Patriots 28, Giants 20