Yesterday I explained my reasoning for picking New England to win the Super Bowl. Well today I’m giving you the other side of the coin. New York has taken two of the last three meetings against New England and even the one game they lost it was a 38-35 shootout not decided until late in the 4th quarter. Perhaps they have the blueprint to beat the Pats? Find out after the jump.
1.) Pass Rush. The New York Giants have an elite pass rush, which is how they defeated New England in Super Bowl XLII through five sacks on Tom Brady. This season the Giants ranked 3rd in the NFL in sacks with 48, and Jason Pierre-Paul led the team with 16.5. More importantly, Osi Umenyiora is healthy after not playing the first month of the regular season and then missing all of December through injuries. In his 9 regular season games he still recorded 9 sacks. New York’s pressure is reliant on their deadly front-four, as the secondary has recorded just one sack all year long. The Giants only recorded two sacks against the Patriots in their regular season meeting, but forced four turnovers. I doubt that they’ll be able to repeat the turnover stat line, but with their pass rushers all active and healthy and performing at an elite level, I expect the Giants to give Brady no mercy when they get into the backfield. The Giants will need it, because their banged-up secondary was picked on all season long.
2.) Eli Manning is “elite”. Actually, that depends on your range of elite QBs, but whatever. It’s no secret New England’s defense is bad (31st), but it’s time to lay off Eli Manning being some sort of ugly downgrade from Peyton Manning. Eli has been lights out in this particular postseason and is a big reason the Giants are even in the Super Bowl. During this Giants run Eli has thrown for 8 touchdown passes to just 1 interception and had zero turnovers against the notoriously tough San Francisco 49ers defense. It also helps that his receiving corp is filled with deep threats. Victor Cruz is 2nd among all WRs with 595 yards after the catch, and 3rd in receiving yards. Hakeem Nicks has become a solid #2 WR for Manning with nearly 1,200 total receiving yards and 17 receptions of 20+ yards. Nicks leads all postseason receivers with 335 rec yds to go with 4 touchdowns. It’s no surprise that Manning threw for nearly 5,000 yards, which is a career high for him. Go deeper into their roster and you’ll see Mario Manningham emerging with 3 playoff touchdown catches and of course their tight ends Bear Pascoe and Jake Ballard are effective pass-catchers and blockers. The passing offense functions extremely well, and I think they’ll have no problem picking apart a New England secondary that uses Julian Edelman at DB.
3.) They already won the Super Bowl! No seriously, this is the image that was briefly on the New York Giants’ official website. So I guess you should stop reading.
4.) Tom Coughlin appears to coach at his best when he’s almost fired. I have no idea how he does it, but Coughlin’s march to his 2nd Super Bowl as head coach is nearly identical to his first one. In his first three seasons as Giants head coach he recorded 6-10, 11-5, and 8-8 records, and failed to win their wild card playoff game in his 2nd and 3rd seasons. In 2007 New York started their campaign 0-2 and the calls for Coughlin’s head were growing. Sure enough, they finished the year 11-5 and proceeded to win all three road playoff games before pulling off their famous upset of the New England Patriots. With expectations higher than ever before the Giants went 12-4 in 2008 but were essentially dominated by the Philadelphia Eagles after clinching the #1 seed. The 2009 and 2010 seasons were infamous for New York’s stunning 2nd half collapses, both resulting in an early offseason. This year the Giants came firing out of the gates with a 6-2 record before dropping to 6-6, and once again Coughlin was on the hot seat. With a season sweep of their hated rival Dallas Cowboys and a win over the New York Jets, New York won an awful NFC East with a 9-7 record despite giving up over 400 points over the course of the season. Their inconsistencies just magically went away and like in 2007, they knocked off the top two seeds in the NFC and won the conference title game in overtime to reach the Super Bowl once more.
Coughlin has been the subject of criticism seemingly every year he’s been head coach of the New York Giants, but I’d argue he’s a Hall of Fame candidate if he gets another SB ring. Remember that he took an expansion Jacksonville Jaguars team to the AFC Championship Game in just their 2nd year and made them perennial playoff contenders for several seasons, but was unable to reach the big game. In his 2nd year with the rebuilding New York Giants and a young Eli Manning they won the NFC East and have also become perennial playoff challengers, but this time he’s got a Super Bowl triumph and is angling for another. That in itself, with the relentless New York media on his backside throughout most of his tenure at the Meadowlands, would be an incredible achievement.
This is the last “preview” post per se but there will be my prediction tomorrow along with this site’s first ever Super Bowl live blog. It should be a blast!