I've tried my best not to write anything about the Super Bowl until the last minute. Two weeks is a long wait, but if you look at the desperate attempts at story-building by others (ESPN, Mikey Felger on CSN, etc.) then you can see why the 2 weeks before the Super Bowl are best spent focusing on hockey and basketball.
Tom Brady's ankle was the big story for the first week. Is he hurt? Yes. Will he play? Yes. Will he be his normal self? We'll see. That's really all there is to it.
Plexiglass Burress' guarantee (nickname courtesy of Ray Lewis) was the big story this week. I think it's stupid to give the media anything they could use as a big story. You give simple answers to their simple questions. Don't get "creative" with the media. Don't try to use the media as a tool. The media is there to use you as a tool. So don't even give them a hint of a story to run with. Plaxico's guarantee was stupid, but not cocky or even classless. Of course he and his teammates think they will win. They're professional football players.
I think Plaxico's predicted scoreline is a bit off, considering these teams combined for 73 points in week 17, and now they've had a week off and will be playing in perfect football weather. I also think he's putting tons of pressure on his defense. No team has held the Patriots under 20 points. Not even the snow could do that.
Asante Samuel's response to Plaxico's prediction sums up my feelings:
"That's what he guaranteed? Good for him."
And the current story is that Senator Arlen Specter (R -PA) has asked the NFL to explain why Belichick's SpyGate tapes were destroyed. Arlen Specter, by the way, has tried several times to help George W. Bush's electronic surveillance programs become legal. He's also a rabid Eagles fan who calls into Philly sports radio once a week. I think he's just grandstanding for his constituents. Think about it. All the Eagles fans who were pissed about losing Super Bowl XXXIX will agree with Specter. And all the Steelers fans who hate the Patriots will support him, as well.
Now to the stuff that matters.
These two teams met 5 weeks ago in the Meadowlands. The score of 38-35 says it was close. And it was close. Sort of. The Giants led 21-16 at half-time, and in the 3rd quarter led 28-16. The 12 point deficit was the biggest faced by the Pats all season. Then the Patriots went on a 22-0 run. The Giants scored a touchdown with 1:04 left on the clock, but failed to recover the onside kick.
The Giants put up 35 points thanks to big plays. One of the first plays of the game was a 52 yard pass to Burress in the seem. Of course, it was a play action pass, which normally doesn't work early in the game, but the Pats were keyed on stopping Brandon Jacobs and the play action worked. That drive ended in a touchdown.
Then there was that 75 yard kickoff return that was aided by a celebration penalty on Moss and Maroney. Moss had made it 10-7 Pats with his record tying score, but the return made it14-10 Giants.
The Giants scored in their 2 minute drill to end the 1st half. On the second play of their drive, both Ty Warren and Jarvis Green came within inches of taking Eli down, but both fell (literally fell) at his feet. Instead of a sack, a loss of 8, and probably the end of an aggressive 2 minute drill; Eli found Kevin Boss for a 23 yard gain.
Then the Patriots dominated the rest of the game. The Giants scored again, but it was against a prevent defense with a two score lead. New York was also assisted by a 15 yard personal foul committed by Rodney Harrison.
The Giants played a great game, and came close to beating the Patriots, but not as close as the score would lend some to believe. The Patriots were also playing without starting right-side offensive linemen Nick Kaczur and Stephen Neal. And guess where most of the pressure on Brady came from...
The right side.
The Giants present an interesting challenge to the Patriots defense. They can run the ball well with Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, but Eli Manning has passed the ball well in the post-season, too. But the Patriots defense is playing the best they've played all year. They haven't allowed a touchdown in the last 6 quarters. Hell, even Plaxico thinks the Giants won't score more than 3 touchdowns.
The Giants put up a season high 35 points on the Pats' defense in week 17. But 7 was off a kickoff return. 7 more was after Eli was nearly sacked but miraculously got away and threw downfield for 23 yards. Another 7 was with the game all but over against a prevent defense. I think in this game, the Patriots defense will confuse Eli Manning and get consistent pressure on him from different directions. I think Jacobs will have a better game than he did in week 17, but it won't be enough.
The Patriots offense put up 38 in week 17, but it could have been a lot more. Brady and the boys made three first half trips into Giants territory that resulted in mere field goals. All three of those drives very easily could have been touchdown scoring. That's 12 points left on the field.
I think the Patriots will be looser in this game than in week 17. I think having Kaczur, Neal, and Kyle Brady back will be a big boost. I think Laurence Maroney is having his best games of the season here at the end. I think Randy Moss got by New York's CBs before and will do it again. I think the Giants have a good front 4, but the Pats have a good front 5. I think Welker will draw enough attention to free up Moss and vice versa.
I think the Patriots win this game 38-16.
MVP: Rodney Harrison - 2 interceptions, 1 sack