NFL Conference Games: 2-0
Regular Season Record: 170-86
Postseason Record: 7-3
Before I get into my big, beefy Super Bowl XLVI prediction piece I would like to touch on a few things that have come to mind about this NFL season, the New York Giants and my football forecasts throughout the year.
I do my best to be objective where the Giants are concerned. When they, as a team or as individuals, are playing subpar football I will jump right in and say so. Those who have been following me on BBV this season know that I frequently refer to the stats for comparisons and to base the facts of my articles on. That is because the stats don't lie.
Here is a stat that I should point out - I have picked the Giants to win every, single week this season. I picked them to win from Week 1 through Week 17. I picked them to win every postseason game, from the Wild-Card matchup straight through the NFC Conference Championship game. Reflecting back on that little tidbit, I began to question whether or not I was biased in my Big Blue predictions. Here's what I discovered.
I am going to give a brief breakdown of the games and my reasons for picking them. Keep in mind that these are brief breakdowns, not my entire rationale. Don't get too analytical on me.
Week 1: Washington Redskins - how could the Giants lose? (L)
Week 2: St Louis Rams - see Week 1. (W)
Week 3: Philadelphia Eagles - revenge! (W)
Week 5: Seattle Seahawks - see Week 1. (L)
Week 6: Buffalo Bills - a tough team but not tough enough to beat the Giants at home. (W)
Week 7: BYE WEEK
Week 8: Miami Dolphins - seriously? After a Bye Week and at home? (W)
Week 9: New England Patriots - we've got Brady's number. (W)
Week 10: San Francisco 49ers - After beating the Pats at home, I think we could get the job done in San Fran. (L)
Week 11: Eagles Part Deux - at home, a team in disarray with some key injuries. (L)
Week 12: New Orleans Saints - no way the G-Men are losing three-straight games! (L)
Week 13: Green Bay Packers - OK, this time for realize…there's no way the Giants are losing four-straight games! (L)
Week 14: Dallas Cowboys - I refuse to believe that Big Blue will lose five straight. (W)
Week 15: Redskins Part Deux - we'll split the series. (L)
Week 16: New York Jets - Rex Ryan is talking too much and it's a must win. (W)
Week 17: Cowboys Part Deux - Win or go home. This season is not over yet. (W)
Wild-Card Game: Atlanta Falcons - the Giants are playing great football lately. The Falcons appear solid due to a relatively easy schedule. (W)
NFC Divisional Game: Green Bay Packers Part Deux - the G-Men know how to play them and almost beat them the last time. They have the formula. (W)
NFC Championship Game: San Francisco 49ers Part Deux - Big Blue just took down the odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl, played the Niners earlier in the year and almost had them. It will be tough but they will come out with the win. (W)
That my friends, is the very bare bones synopsis or "crib sheet", if you will, of why I picked the Giants each and every week this year. Alas, the question could still be raised whether or not I was biased in my picks. Well, being a native New Yorker and lifelong Giants fan, as much of you are, I have had the unique privilege and/or curse of getting to know this team intimately, from soup to nuts. I have lived through the "Ray Eras" (Perkins and Handley). Knowing the history of the G-Men as I do, it was pretty easy to see that the present Giants team has an exorbitant amount of talent. They were a better team than they were showing through much of the regular season, as we have all come to see. Therefore, I do not subscribe to the notion of being biased in my picks this year. In short, I believed. But there's one more game left to pick. Let's get to it.
There is no bigger game than that of the Super Bowl. It is broadcast to well over two-hundred countries all over the world. It can be a jarring experience and swallow a rookie whole. This is why smart money typically goes on the veteran in the game. This Super Bowl, however, finds two veteran quarterbacks in an all-too familiar situation, a rematch of Super Bowl XLII.
If there is no bigger game than the Super Bowl, there was no bigger game for Eli Manning than SBXLII. It was a "Davey and Goliath" setting, where Manning had the sole purpose of putting an end to the undefeated, unstoppable, New England Patriots. Eli Manning lead his team to the Lombardi Trophy in the biggest upset in NFL history, leaving the entire Patriots organization and fan base in sheer disbelief.
These two teams know each other well. They have played each other five times since then with the Giants dominating the series 3-1 in the preseason and 1-0 in the regular season. Ironically enough, the Giants defeated the Pats in the regular season earlier this year. They were the last team to beat New England.
New York is healthier than they've been all season. New England, on the other hand, appear to be down one Rob Gronkowski. This big, tight end suffered a high ankle sprain against the Baltimore Ravens and is considered to be a game day decision. Gronk was the leading receiver for the Patriots throughout the regular season and the postseason as well. If Tom Brady does not have Gronkowski in the game at full capacity, the success of his offense will be significantly altered. That, of course, is not to say that Brady does not have other targets at his disposal.
Yesterday, I broke down the Patriots and Giants, by position, in my Scouting Report. We took a look at each team's weaknesses and strengths. With that information, it is pretty clear what areas the Giants will need to exploit and how the Patriots will measure up.
The Pats do not have much of a running game. They certainly do not have a strong enough ground attack to stand up to this New York defensive front. But Bill Belichick will most certainly attempt to get a running game started. It will be up to the Giants D-line to put the kabosh on that immediately, something they should not have a problem doing.
The Giants will have to keep their hands in Tom Brady's face, continuously rattle his cage and keep him off his rhythm. If they come out swinging, as they have been over the last five games, this should not be a difficult task.
The group who will have the most difficulty will be the Giants secondary. They were the weakest link in the Big Blue chain this season. But they certainly have not been playing like it these last few weeks. They have shadowed opposing receivers and taken away the quarterback's targets. If New York's secondary can hold up, the rest will fall in place. This is the critical matchup for this game.
Eli Manning should be able to pick apart and expose New England's thin secondary. While the Patriots' defensive backs have been playing decently in the postseason, they have not faced an offense like this New York offense all season, including when they played them earlier in the year. These are not the same New York Giants.
The Pats do not hold up well against the run, either. That also fares well for the G-men. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs will be eager to chalk up some more postseason yardage, especially against this bunch. If they get a ground game going, Eli will not have to endure too many hits. This will also open things up for the big plays down field.
We know that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are two of the greatest football minds of our time. We also know that Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning and the rest of the New York Giants are severely underrated, despite pulling off another incredible turnaround season. Brady has never been the same since losing in Super Bowl XLII. That loss has always been a sore spot for him. That GIANT loss has made its way deep into his head and it will make itself known again this Sunday.
I think this Giants team will have its way with the Patriots. Is that a biased opinion? Definitely not. Eli and co. have been playing harder than any team - when it mattered. What they have accomplished over the last five weeks was nothing short of spectacular. The win against the 49ers will have proven itself to have been the single, most difficult game for the G-Men all year long. Who am I picking, as if you haven't guessed? Giants 31, Patriots 14.
With that, I sign off of my predictions post for the 2011 NFL season. Now, let's go get that trophy.