Matchup: New York Giants’ Defensive Line vs. New England Patriots’ Offensive Line
Much maligned for a good part of the season, New England’s O-line is finally healthy. It showed in the AFC championship game, as the group allowed only one sack to a dominant Ravens defense. They will have their hands full once again against an intimidating Giants defensive line featuring the likes of Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck. Against the 49ers, the trio forced three sacks on their own, stalling San Francisco’s offense. With three all-pro defensive ends wreaking havoc on the field, the Giants will pressure Brady into making a few mistakes.
Matchup: New York Giants’ Wide Receivers vs. New England Patriots’ Secondary
Giants receiver Victor Cruz, a talented deep threat receiver with the potential to take it to the house on any play, came out of nowhere to make the NFL All-Pro second team this season. Fellow receivers Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham will also prove tough to stop for a generally weak, but surging Patriots’ secondary. Although safety Patrick Chung is once again healthy, and corner Sterling Moore has emerged into a major playmaker, New England will have a difficult time stopping Eli Manning from finding his group of receivers.
Matchup: New England Patriots’ Tight Ends vs. New York Giants’ Linebackers
New England’s tight end combo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez is one of the most feared duos in football. Hernandez features the speed to outrun linebackers down the field, while Gronkowski can bulldoze anyone who gets in his way. With the pair putting up over 2,200 yards and 24 touchdowns during the regular season, no team has been able to slow them down. If Gronkowski is able to overcome a high ankle sprain and play at a normal level, Brady will have no problem finding his tight ends open in the middle of the field.
Matchup: New England Patriots Front Seven vs. New York Giant’s Offensive Line
Eli has now completed 61.8 percent of his passes in the postseason sporting a 103.1 passer rating with eight TD passes. Behind the strong protection of his offensive line, Manning was only sacked once in previous games against Green Bay and Atlanta and was brought down a whopping six times in SF last week while looking extremely flustered throughout the game. He has only thrown one interception this postseason and got extremely lucky with a couple of defensive drops this past week. The Patriots’ defense knows that the success of New York’s offense relies solely on Manning’s ability to get the ball to one of its big-play receivers, so their task is simple: Beat the living shit out Manning with consistent pressure, while putting your defense in the best position for some easy pickings.
Matchup: New York Giants’ Secondary vs. Tom “Not-So-Terrific Lately” Brady
As New England squeaked out a victory and earned another berth to the Super Bowl last week, it left a sour taste in my mouth. Tom Brady just didn’t look the same, finishing the game sporting a measly 57.5 passer rating without a single passing touchdown and two interceptions. Countless missed opportunities by the Baltimore Ravens defense, including two additional interceptions called back due to penalty, allowed New England to win the game. Regardless of the final outcome, one thing remained clear: Brady just needs to relax. From a pair of stud tight ends and one of the best receivers in the game, to a genius head coach who created a serviceable running game out of thin air, Brady has everything an NFL quarterback could want. He’s married to a frickin’ VICTORIA’S SECRET MODEL for Christ’s sake! And … on top of all that, he is in the Super Bowl yet again.