Game Planning Super Bowl XLVI: Giants vs. Patriots

Super Bowl XLVI
Photo Credit: Carl Van Rooy

Super Bowl XLVI is upon us and everyone is bloviating about what needs to happen in this game for either team to win. I’m on the record as rooting for the Giants, which sets up the third year in a row of abandoning the AFC. I will always root for the AFC unless it’s the Steelers, Colts or Patriots – and guess who has represented the AFC in this and the last two Super Bowls… the Colts, Steelers and now the Patriots.

But putting personal football bias aside, there are keys to winning this game for both teams and I think it’s going to be a good game.

For the Giants to win…

The Giants have a difficult road ahead facing one of the most elite quarterbacks that has ever played the game of football. Indeed, they have a good quarterback (I’m still not ready to give Eli Manning the much-ballyhooed ‘elite’ status…) who is very capable of winning this game by himself. But he won’t win this game by himself. He’s going to need Brandon Jacobs, Hakeem Nicks and company.

The Giants defense has to step up. They have to get their blitz on on more than third down. Unfortunately, if you put 8 in the box all the time, you’re leaving Gronkowski, Welker and Hernandez undercovered. But I think they need to commit to the blitz early. Load up the box, get Brady scrambling. Brady has been known to throw interceptions and incomplete passes and generally is prone to some Really Bad Life Decisions(TM) when under pressure. You let him sit in the pocket, and it doesn’t matter how strong your pass coverage is… he will eat you for lunch.

On the flip side, they have to double team Gronkowski as much as possible. That, leaves Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez open but based on their patterns, the Giants are more able to cover those two inside one on one, than leaving Gronk in one on one.

On offense, the Giants have to run the ball. They have to burn the clock and own time of possession. Brandon Jacobs needs a fumble-less game and as long as he can get 3-4 yards on every touch, the Giants should be able to accomplish this. And it shouldn’t be hard, considering the New England defensive line has allowed 4.51 yards average running. Of course, this also has the added benefit of setting up the play action to Mario Manningham or the long ball to Victor Cruz… both of which could be the difference between winning a tempo game.

For the Patriots to win…

The recipe for a Patriots win is what it often is – rely on Brady, get out to a fast start and get the Giants back on the defensive. Obviously, this all starts on the Offensive Line. Statistically, the Patriots line is weakest on the left side. That is the worst side to be weak on as that is Brady’s blind side. Matt Light has to do his job in protection because the Giants will blitz from that side. If Brady has time in the pocket, then it’s over.

The Patriots like to use the “Bunch” formation which stacks three recievers on one side of the line. This usually means a passing setup, where the recievers are able to explode off the line together before hitting routes, causing confusion (and maybe collisions) on the defensive side of the ball. Against the Cowboys earlier this year, the Patriots enhanced the bunch by using it effectively in the run game.

I don’t want to put too much weight on the Patriots running game. I think the Giants can handle BenJarvus Green-Ellis and keep him a non-factor. But if the Pats can effectively use the Bunch Run, they have a dangerous combination that will force the Giants to pay attention to the run, as well as the pass.

President Obama Throws a Super Bowl Party

With the Super Bowl a few days away, I have yet to figure out where I’m watching it. However, President Obama knows where he’s watching it. He is throwing a party at the White House for a handful of elected officials.

  • Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)
  • Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
  • Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA)
  • Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD)
  • Congressman Artur Davis (D-AL)
  • Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
  • Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA)
  • Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA)
  • Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ)
  • Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
  • Congressman Paul Hodes (D-NH)
  • Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC)
  • Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA)
  • Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI)

I presume Sen. Specter, Sen. Casey, Rep. Dent, Rep Doyle, and Rep. Murphy will be rooting for the Steelers. Likewise, Rep. Franks and Rep. Grijalva will be rooting for the Cardinals. I presume Rep. Cummings, my Congressman, will be a Cardinals fan on Sunday too, considering his district is in the Baltimore area. And, of course, our President has defied logic, as a man from an NFC town who now lives in an NFC town, by declaring his support for Pittsburgh.

For my part, I’m loving me some Red and White.

4th and 11 and Going for It

Congratulations to the New York Giants for their Victory in Super Bowl XLII. It was a classic. It was much closer than anyone expected.
The thing that sticks out at me as the epitome of the 2007 New England Patriots is the arrogance. With a 7-3 lead in the third quarter and faced with a 4th and 13 at the NYG 31 yard line, you’d expect the Pats to kick the 48 yard field goal. There was no pressing reason to do any differently. If the range was in question, it would not be unheard of to call for a short punt that would pin the Giants inside their 10 yard line.
Yeah, no.
Instead, the Patriots decided a pass play was in order and, quite naturally, the play failed to deliver the first down. This odd choice was fairly typical through the Patriots 2007 season where they were often accused of running up the score on opponents. Worse, the Patriots turned the ball over having not added 3 points to their total.
The final score had a spread of 3 points. Ironic, isn’t it?

Drinking the Kool Aid, Believing the Hype

Congratulations to the New York Giants for upsetting the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. It was unexpected. It was exciting. It was nailbiting.

However, I’m absolutely disgusted with the national sports media surrounding this Patriots team. Somehow, they have created a hype that history now shows us could not be sustained. All year, the idea that this Patriot machine could not be beaten was pushed and pushed and pushed. There were obvious signs that this hype was not reality, but foolishly the media failed to recognize the signs and continued stumping their speeches. And we believed them.

In Week 12, the Philadelphia Eagles had the Patriots beaten in the 4th quarter and Brady’s squad engineered a comeback. In Week 13, the Baltimore Ravens had the Pats beaten 3 times in the fourth quarter, but penalties and poor officiating gave the Patriots the inches they needed to get the win. Finally, in week 17, Brady had to play from behind again to pull out a win against the New York Giants. Yes, the same now-World Champion New York Giants.

On Fox Sports Radio this afternoon, Vic Carucci stated that “we are just waiting for the inevitable” noting that the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl had been dull and dry and lacking any kind of real expectation.

After the Giants won tonight, another radio commentator asked, “How did we not see this coming?”

My answer: You bought into your own hype. You forgot that the Giants were the NFC Champions. You believed that there was no way that the Patriots could not go undefeated. What a fantastic news story that would be. The only team to go undefeated since the 1972 Miami Dolphins. You lined up Don Shula on radio show after television show. You predicted that the Patriots would win the game in the first quarter. You said that Eli Manning was a nobody. You said that Bellichick was a master with or without “Spygate“.

You created your own koolaid, and then you drank it. Shame on you.