Ronan Kirrane takes a look at the upcoming Superbowl showdown
This Sunday Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis will host the 46th edition of the NFL Superbowl where a familiar battle will emerge. The New England Patriots and New York Giants provide the platform for a rematch of four years ago. On that occasion the ‘Big Blue’ defeated the Patriots in a stunning upset haulting the Pats one game short of an undefeated season. Once again these two franchises will take to the field in the big game with a recurring cast appearing on both sides. Bill Belichick is still the head coach of the Patriots as is Tom Brady their quaterback while Tom Coughlan remains the man in charge in New York with Eli Manning again leading the offense. The Patriots will have both revenge and redemption on their minds but the outcome of this game will not just determine the Superbowl winner, prescription but will determine the most important thing of all, sovaldi legacy.
The Patriots have won three Superbowls over the past ten seasons with Brady and Belichick at the helm and if they can help their team to a fourth the two may well be regarded as the greatest quaterback/coach combo off all time. With a win, Belichick would join the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll who won four championships with the Steelers in the 1970’s, an NFL record. Brady on the other hand could claim his 4th ring tying himself with arguably the greatest player of all-time, Joe Montana. Many say Montana will still be the superior player regardless but Tom Terrific would surpass his childhood hero in playoff victories with a record setting 16th postseason victory. The Giants are chasing some legacy of their own as Eli Manning will try to step out of the shadow of his older brother Peyton, a fellow quaterback in the NFL. The elder Manning has amassed four MVP awards throughout his career and is seen by many as the greater of the Manning brothers. The experts also say this seasons Giants are not as solid a unit as the Superbowl winning team of four years ago. But don’t be fooled as NYG boast some of the best young talent in the league.
The defense is led by defensive end Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul. Pierre-Paul has amassed a team high of 16.5 sacks in the regular season adequately filling the void left by future hall of famer Michael Strahan who retired after the Giants victorious season in 2007. The offensive side of the ball however, is where the Giants are at their most dangerous where Manning has an explosive receiving corp at his disposal with the likes of Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. ‘Cruz Control’ has over 1,500 receiving yards on the season along with 9 touchdowns while Nicks and Manningham have combined for 11 TD’s making the trio a force to be reckoned with. The Giants can also get it done on the ground, where they have two more than capable running backs in Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. These two have proven to be great assets as their ability to share carries gives the Giants offense an element of unpredictability as most teams use just one dominant running back to rush the ball.
Brady may not have as many prime recievers as Manning but he uses what he’s got well. Tight end Rob Gronkowski has proven to be his favourite receiver this season hitting the former Arizona man for 16 TD’s in the regular season. Gronkowski gives Brady a great option on short 4-5 yardages as his broad stature can push him past the baddest of defensive backs. However, Gronkowski has been struggling with a rolled ankle from the AFC game questioning how much of a part he will play Sunday. If Gronkowski is not 100% you may see Brady use him more in the redzone instead hitting the likes of Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez further back down the field to then set up a scoring opportunity for ‘Gronk’ inside the 20 yard line. Benjarvus Green-Ellis provides a reliable option on the ground as the 4 year veteran has brought the ball to the endzone 11 times this season making the Patriots running game a lot more damaging than it is given credit for.
The Patriots main worry is their vulnerability on defense where they have slid to the 31st ranked team in the league. Losing their best pash rusher in Andre Carter earlier in the season through injury hasn’t helped but with the ever engaging Vince Wilfork at nose tackle and bruising line backer Jerod Mayo the Pats front seven can out do the Giants sketchy offensive line and put pressure on Eli Manning in the pocket.
This Superbowl will be won and lost on whichever teams defense can step up and disrupt the quaterback as both Manning and Brady are at the top of their game and will exploit any weaknesses throughout, which could lead to utter devastation for their opponents. I predict the game to be a thriller full of fast high flying football with the Giants to edge it in one of the most closely contested Superbowls of all time on a score of 27-24 with Manning leading his team downfield for the game winner along with an MVP performance. But that’s just a prediction because nothing is certain on any given Sunday.