It is a very special Friday, being that it is the Friday before the New York Giants make the fifth Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. Taking our cue from quarterback Eli Manning we are trying to keep things as normal as possible, which means we begin this Super Bowl Friday with our regular 'Friday Five' with Inside Football editor Pat Traina.
So, let's get right down to business.
Ed: You asked me about Rob Gronkowski, and since his health is the big story I have to ask you the same basic question. How does his health (we know he's playing) affect the way the Giants play defense, and the possible outcome of the game?
Pat: Well, there's talk that he's going to be fitted for a special cleat, and while I'm no doctor, I can't quite visualize how a cleat would help alleviate a high ankle sprain. I would think a high ankle sprain is going to affect him in several way, including his ability to push off that ankle and his ability to cut. I won't say he becomes a non-factor, but I would think that maybe now you can afford to play a slower defender 9or even a hobbled Jacquian Williams) against Gronk.
Ed: The Patriots have seemed to try to snatch the whole 'underdog' thing away from the Giants this week. Are you buying what they are selling -- which is that the Giants are actually the more talented team?
Pat: I never buy what the Patriots are selling because they're the masters of deception and mind games. I think what the Patriots are doing is the same tactic the Giants are trying to do and that is to respect the opponent, but fear no one. It's just not Belichick's style to trash talk - never has been.
Ed: Almost everything has, of course, been talked about too much. Is there one matchup, or factor, in Sunday's game that you believe hasn't really gotten enough attention?
Pat: I would say the Patriots running game vs. the Giants run defense. Now I know that you're probably saying to yourself that this is going to be a pass heavy game, and I would say you're not incorrect if you think that. However, if you go back to the last game these two played, when the Giants' defense was doing this thing on Brady, I remember BenJarvus Green-Ellis having some success running the ball later in the game.
Ed: You've been in Indianapolis all week. It isn't New Orleans, but it's Super Bowl week and has to be a madhouse. What is the weirdest thing you have seen all week?
Pat: You know what? This is my fourth Super Bowl (third covering the Giants) and I have to say it's been pretty tame. Even Media Day, when the, um "creative" [people come out to play, I can honestly say I only saw one guy in costume. I didn't think I was going to like this setup but it's been quite convenient. There are walkways connecting the hotel to the media center and the media center to the Giants team hotel, and the people have been really friendly out here. The NFL generally does a nice job with handling the logistics and making sure that when you ask someone for assistance, they give you directions instead of "I don't know." And the weather has been fabulous - it's been more like spring than winter.
Ed: Your prediction, please?
Pat: I like the Giants in this one for several reasons, I think Eli and company have the potential to light up the Patriots secondary and I don't think Gronk is going to be as effective as the Patriots would have us believe.