The final game of the 2011-2012 NFL season is finally upon us as Super Bowl 46 is finally here. The two teams, the NFC Champion New York Football Giants and the AFC Champion New England Patriots meet again for the 2nd time in 5 years after their first Super Bowl collision course made NFL history in one of the best Super Bowl games ever. When it’s all said and done there will be one left standing with Vince Lombardi trophy reigning supreme as the Champion of the National Football League. With that being said here is the preview & predictions for Super Bowl 46:
New York Giants vs. New England Patriots
Super Bowl 42 back in 2008 left fans on the edge of their seat as they witnessed history take place. In that game, the then 18-0 New England Patriots were on the final door step to perfection with a New York Giants football team being their final hurdle towards history. The Patriots defeated the Giants for their 16th win of the season cursing to a perfect regular season. That game, a 3 point victory in old Giants Stadium was the final time the New England Patriots would defeat the Giants in a meaningful game.
The AFC Champion New England Patriots enter Super Bowl 46 on a ten-game winning streak with their last loss coming to the New York Giants in Week 9 of the 2011-2012 NFL Regular Season. How ironic is that the Patriots once again enter the Super Bowl, against the Giants mind you, on a winning streak and looking to finish the season on the brink of history. For the Patriots to win the Super Bowl we would Tom Brady & Bill Belichick join rare company as a 4-time Super Bowl Champions, joining other Hall-of-Fame winning quarterbacks and head coaches.
While this is the Patriots fifth time in the Super Bowl under Tom Brady & Bill Belichick’s reign (3-1 career record), this is the first time they have reached this pinnacle since Super Bowl 42. How ironic that these two teams meet again is that the Patriots had not won any playoff games since the 2008 AFC Championship Game, the last game before they played the New York Giants in Super Bowl 42. You can start to feel that as this game gets closer the Patriots are quietly preparing themselves for a revenge game against this Giants team.
For this is the Giants franchise that prevented their path to history in 2008. They could’ve set the mark as quite possibly the great team not only in the NFL but in all of sports. They did not do that, they finished the year 18-1 and failed at achieving the greatest achievement of glory, the Vince Lombardi trophy. This is also the same Giants franchise that handed them their last loss, back on November 6th, 2011 and in their house. They have not lost since and hope to end the season on an 11-game winning streak and a celebration in the heart of Boston.
Then you have the New York Football Giants who enter Super Bowl 46 just like the same way they entered Super Bowl 42. This was a team who just like they did in 2007-2008, tested the last remaining undefeated in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers and only lost by 3 points and by the score of 38-35, the same score the time they lost to the then undefeated New England Patriots in Week 17 of the 2007 regular season. Despite the loss there were a quiet confidence and a wave of momentum being built in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
What the Giants learned more about the loss against the Packers, the same thing they learned against the then undefeated Patriots in 2007, was that they could play with any team in the NFL. The Giants would enter pressure cooker situations, with their season on the line, against the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys to earn a spot as NFC East Division Champions & make the playoffs. A team that wasn’t supposed to make it this far after off-season punches to their stomachs (Steve Smith leaving for Philly) and pre-season off-season injuries that left them reeling.
Despite the odds the Giants persevered, blazing a trail where players became leaders and leaders became heroes. Eli Manning elevated himself, despite being a Super Bowl winning quarterback already, as an elite quarterback in the NFL. For years he was overshadowed by his brother and the fact that when it came down to crunch time, sans 2007-2008, Eli never seemed to show up & carry his team to victory. Those opinions were put to rest after another miracle playoff run.
Then you had Jason Pierre-Paul elevate himself from national unknown to one of the most feared defensive players in the NFL. The initials “J.P.P.” became a household name all of a sudden thanks to his great plays and leadership on the field carrying the Giants to Super Bowl 46. The momentum swing was being felt in the air by the rest of the NFL as the Giants made another run to playing for the greatest prize in all of Football.
New York knocked off the Atlanta Falcons in the Wildcard round and then traveled on the road to what many called the “best team in the NFL” in the Green Bay Packers & forced them to play their worst game of the season when it counted most. For the final trip on this journey New York went into the house of the resurging San Francisco 49ers and matched their terrific defense with their terrific defense as Lawrence Tynes once again kicked the Giants into the Super Bowl to face the New England Patriots.
So here we are again, two teams, the Patriots and the Giants, entering the Super Bowl again and riding on a ton of momentum. Some may say “defense wins Championships” but if the last couple of years mean anything (Saints and Packers), I’d say “momentum wins Championships.” The team with the final stretch of momentum will prove to be the NFL Champion for the 2011-2012 season.
As for predicting the Super Bowl I have to lean with the NFC Champion New York Football Giants in this one. They are a team who is firing on all cylinders at just the right time. They have played in five straight playoff eliminating games and have stepped up every single time. Those last five games were all against really good teams as well beating the New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers all for the chance to play in Indianapolis.
While when it comes to the New England Patriots I have been very critical of this 10-game winning streak they have gone on. Of those 10 straight wins, 2 of them came against teams above .500 during the regular season (Week 10 against the then 5-3 New York Jets and Week 15 against the then 8-5 Denver Broncos), while the final two wins in the playoff came against the Denver Broncos in the divisional round (who came in the game at 9-8 and finished the season 9-9) and the Baltimore Ravens who finished 13-5, the only real notable win against a true elite team. Over a span of 10 straight wins they have only played a team that was considered “elite” in the AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens who only lost by 3 thanks to Billy Cundiff’s foot.
The numbers do not lie when you look at this New England Patriots team. This is not the same dominating Patriots team that enters Super Bowls like they have in Belichick & Brady’s reign. There wins are merely statistics until you dig deep into them, when your not tested you begin to lose your competitive strength, just ask the Green Bay Packers.
The AFC has been above and beyond weaker then the NFC this season. All six NFC teams could have been contenders for a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs in my opinion had they played in the other conference. I don’t believe the Patriots have been truly tested this season, strangely enough, since the Giants loss in Week 9 and will be entering the game a step behind the competitively tested New York Gaints. I have bashed the Patriots every week at the end of season on my weekly NFL thoughts blog here at the CCB and not even the Super Bowl will stop that thought process now.
You also have the old adage “defense wins championships” that is in play right here. Sure the Patriots defense has stepped up in the playoffs but Eli Manning has done very well against some pretty good secondary’s the last couple of weeks against Atlanta, Green Bay & San Francisco. The Patriots secondary is the weak part of their defense and Eli Manning could once again tear another secondary apart.
You just cannot discredit momentum and defense this time of the year. The heart of a champion will be displayed on Super Bowl Sunday and I expect the best team to win the Vince Lombardi trophy. As strange as this will sound I fully expect the Giants to beat the Patriots for the 2nd time in a Super Bowl game and for a third straight time overall. New York has Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s number in my opinion. Great ready for another parade down the “canyon of heroes” in New York City once again Giants fans.
Prediction: Giants 24 Patriots 13
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Jeff Peck is the producer for the “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday at www.wheelhouseradio.com.
Jeff also co-hosts “The Still Real to us show” with Eric Gargiulo which can be available at www.wheelhouseradio.com and can be downloaded in the “Real Guy Radio” section of the site.
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