I’ve heard several arguments for why the Patriots should win by more than 12 points tomorrow.
Here are the two most common:
1)”Eli is a head case. It’s just a matter of time before he throws a clunker. He can’t have that many good games in a row. He looks great one week, and terrible the next.”
2)”With two weeks to study, Belichick will design a mad scientist game-plan that will confuse Manning, and put the Giants offense on ice.”
Let’s debunk these two myths with some doses of reality. First, Manning has performed at an exceptional level against Superbowl caliber defenses for four consecutive games. He’s never played at this level before. People forget that Eli is only in his fourth full season as an NFL quarterback. Sure, he’s gone on hot streaks before that were followed with poor performances. But, this is not the same old Eli Manning. This is the new and improved version, a more mature and accurate passer.
Also, he has good help. Rookie Steve Smith has provided Manning the third WR that this offense needed. Smith missed 12 regular season games with a stress fracture. In the postseason, he and TE Boss have consistently provided Manning safety valves that can move the chains, and present match-up advantages in the red zone. At the line of scrimmage, the unsung G-Men offensive lineman have performed every bit as well as their Patriot counterparts.
Anyone who expects the same old self-destructing Giants offense hasn’t properly examined recent events. Excellent O-line + talented RB tandem + 3 deep WR + 6’7” TE with smooth route skills + experienced Manning at QB = DYNAMIC OFFENSE!
OK, lets debunk myth number two. This is not the same Patriots defense that starred in previous Superbowl victories. Three of their four starting linebackers are aged 32, 38, and 34. In years past, Belichick utilized his plethora of cerebral linebackers to confuse opposing quarterbacks. The position was an extension of the head coach’s brain on the field. However, the Patriots’ defense lacks depth where it has shined in past Superbowl victories. The LB cupboard is no longer stocked with passing down or short yardage specialists. To anyone who doubts my opinion, simply replay the highlights of the week 17 contest in New York. Manning enjoyed so much time in the pocket, he could have thrown the ball from a comfy recliner en route to 35 points.
Sure, the Patriots are capable of winning by two touchdowns against anyone. They boast arguably the best offense of all time. And, their past Superbowl experience gives them an edge in preparation. But, New England hasn’t defeated a top notch opponent by 12 or more points since way back in week 6 against the Cowboys. If New York scores in the mid 20’s, then New England would have to score close to 40 in order to cover.
It’s never easy to pick against a team on history’s doorstep, but taking the Giants plus the points is the smart play. Just don’t risk an entire week’s pay on it.