Championship Round Recap
Championship Round Recap
Picks Ė Giants +7 at Packers
Result Ė Win
Amount - 50 units
Season Bankroll - +$600
If you have listened to me this season, you have made money. Period. Itís that simple. Specifically, if you listened to me during the playoffs this year, then you have made a LOT of money. Now comes your last chance. One game left, the Super Bowl. If you are down for the year, it is your chance to double down and salvage the season. If you are up, then itís time for one last score. And it will be a good one, Patriots and Giants, this Sunday, with everything on the line. The New England Patriots are 60 minutes from the first 19-0 season in NFL history, with the New York Giants seeking to ruin that run at perfection with a monumental upset on Sunday. But would it be monumental? Iíve been riding the Giants since the playoffs started folks and this time, they are getting a whopping 12 points. So letís take a closer look at this one shall we?
As everyone knows by now, this game is a rematch from week 17 of this season. The Giants took New England to the wire in that contest, building a double-digit second-half lead before falling, 38-35. Sunday will mark the second time two teams that squared off in the last game of the regular season will engage in a Super Bowl rematch. The Cowboys' 27-10 win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XII came less than a month after Dallas had downed Denver, 14-6, on the final week of the 1977 regular season.
The Patriots (3-2 in Super Bowls) will make their sixth Super Sunday appearance, a mark that trails only that of Dallas (8), and is tied with Pittsburgh (6) and Denver (6) for the most all-time while New York is in the Super Bowl for the first time in seven years thanks to consecutive playoff road wins over the Buccaneers (24-14), Cowboys (21-17), and Packers (23-20 in overtime), and the Giants' 10 wins away from home in 2007 are an NFL record.
Historically, the Patriots have a 5-3 edge in their series with the Giants, and have won four straight since New York took down New England by a 13-10 count at Foxboro Stadium in 1990. As mentioned, New England was a 38-35 road winner when the teams last met, in Week 17.
After putting together a regular season compatible with his inconsistent four- year career, Eli Manning (3336 passing yards, 23 TD, 20 INT) has undergone a playoff revelation marked by sound decision-making and a minimizing of mistakes. The former No. 1 overall draft pick has completed 62 percent of his throws and not committed a turnover in New York's three postseason games. Manning's outstanding run actually began with a strong outing against New England in Week 17, when he went 22-of-32 for 251 yards and tossed four touchdown passes. Since an interception thrown by Manning late in that game, the Giants offense has gone 33 possessions and 194 plays without a turnover.
New York's receiving corps possesses a strong blend of size, experience and youth in the threesome of Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer and Steve Smith. The 6-foot-5, 232-pound Burress can be a matchup nightmare for opposing defensive backs, as Green Bay's Al Harris recently found out first-hand. Burress manhandled the Pro Bowl corner with an 11-catch, 151-yard performance in the NFC Championship and also caught two scoring passes from Manning in the Giants' 38-35 loss to the Patriots in late December. Toomer, one of only two remaining members from New York's 2000 Super Bowl squad, has compiled 196 yards and three touchdowns in this postseason. The rookie Smith has made up for an unproductive and injury- plagued regular season with nine playoff catches, including several key grabs.
The Giants will send out their "thunder-and-lightning" tandem of Brandon and Ahmad Bradshaw in hopes of keeping the Patriots' record-setting offense off the field as much as possible on Super Bowl Sunday. The 21-year-old Bradshaw has been the more effective member of the duo during the playoffs, having totaled a team-best 163 rushing yards on 39 carries, but Jacobs did put up a respectable 67 yards on 15 attempts against New England in the regular- season finale. The pairing will be running behind another unsung hero in fullback Madison Hedgecock, an early-season waiver claim whose powerful blocking has been essential to the team's proficiency in the ground game.
New England primarily uses a three-man defensive front, with Pro Bowler Vince Wilfork the middle and Richard Seymour and Ty Warren occupying the ends. Seymour, who has two sacks and a fumble recovery during his Super Bowl career, is often replaced by Jarvis Green in passing situations. The Patriots ranked near the bottom of the league with 4.4 yards allowed per carry during the regular season.
The Patriots have a pair of highly-decorated linebackers in the middle of their four-man group, with former Pro Bowlers Tedy Bruschi, and Junior Seau occupying those places. Seau and Bruschi are 1-2 on the team in stops during the postseason. Mike Vrabel and Adalius Thomas man the outside linebacker positions for New England, and are viewed by opponents as the team's most dangerous pass rushers. Vrabel will be making his fourth Super Bowl start as a Patriot. Thomas had New England's only sack of Manning in Week 17.
MVP Tom Brady (4806 passing yards, 50 TD, 8 INT) comes off one of the great statistical seasons in NFL history, though less focus will be on that fact than on Brady's gimpy right ankle. Brady was hurt in the third quarter of the Pats' AFC Championship win over the Chargers, and struggled during much of a performance in which he threw a season-worst three interceptions. Even with that showing, Brady (471 yards, 5 TD, 3 INT in the postseason) has a 105.7 rating in these playoffs. He's also 3-0 with six touchdowns, one pick, and 735 yards in three career Super Bowl appearances. Brady was 32-of-42 for 356 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants in Week 17.
One of the major storylines on Super Sunday will involve wideout Randy Moss (98 receptions, 23 TD), who will be appearing in his first career Super Bowl and trying to shake off a conspicuously quiet 2007 postseason to date. Moss has touched the football just three times in the playoffs, catching two balls for 32 yards and carrying once for 14 yards. Moss had six catches for 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Giants in the regular season finale. Slot receiver Wes Welker has 16 catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns in the playoffs thus far, and logged 11 grabs for 122 yards versus the G-Men last time out. Donte' Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney both had their moments during the regular season, and have combined for nine catches totaling 117 yards in these playoffs.
Tight end Benjamin Watson, who has made two of his three catches in the playoffs to date count for touchdowns, remains a trusted red- zone target for Brady. Watson, who will be making his first career Super Bowl appearance, caught four balls for 38 yards against New York in Week 17. No. 2 tight end Kyle Brady will be appearing in his first career Super Bowl at the age of 36. Brady had nine catches (two for touchdowns) during the regular season, and has one grab in the 2007 postseason. Vrabel, who caught a touchdown pass against the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX, occasionally appears as a tight end in goal-line sets.
Running back Laurence Maroney has generated a major impact for the Patriots during the playoffs, carrying 47 times for 244 yards and two touchdowns in wins over the Jaguars and Chargers. In his last five games overall, Maroney has averaged 110 rushing yards and scored seven touchdowns. The second-year pro was held to 46 yards on 19 carries against the Giants in Week 17, but scored twice. Kevin Faulk, who led New England with eight catches for 72 yards in the AFC Championship win over San Diego, has 16 rushes for 95 yards and seven receptions for 45 yards during his Super Bowl career. Fullback Heath Evans, who comes in during short-yardage situations, has just three touches in the '07 playoffs to date.
Giants ends Osi Umenyiora, Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck have been wreaking havoc all year long, and the trio will be counted on to make Brady uncomfortable in the pocket for the Giants to have a chance to pull off the upset. The 36-year-old Strahan, one of only two players left from the Giants' 2000 NFC champion squad, has been the most productive of the group in the postseason. The seven- time Pro Bowler has compiled 18 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble in the three playoff games.
Though the Patriots have the edge in a majority of the above personnel categories, it's not a decisive edge on many counts. The Giants proved on Dec. 29 that they have the ability to make this a game, and it is difficult to envision a team that is playing with as much confidence and purpose as is New York to get run off the field in this one. The Giants are getting 12 points people and they can actually win this one if they play a perfect game. Take the points and take the Giants.
Until next time, may all your bets be winners.
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