The J. Pub Super Bowl Preview

The following is an email exchange between J. Pub Editor Tripp Hughes and me discussing Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVI.

MA: So Tripp, what are your thoughts on Sunday’s big game?

TH: Well Matt, I could honestly not give two cents about the game. I could care less that it is a rematch of a Super Bowl that would have made the Pats immortal…newsflash a majority of the players on BOTH sides were not playing in that game. Additionally, while I am all about football and will probably watch the game because let’s face it, it is the Super Bowl, as a Ravens and Redskins fan I 1) have no interest in the game’s outcome and 2) cannot believe that these two teams were their respective conference champions. Now I’ll give credit where it’s due, both teams have played well when it counts and the Pats have managed all season to play to their strengths and minimize their weaknesses (uh hmm defense anyone?) while the Giants learned how to play just in time for the playoffs. But watching the Giants during the regular season against the basement dwelling Redskins you’d have thought the Redskins were the best team in the league! Wacthing the Pats get beat around all day during the AFC championship makes me think Brady pulled a Tebow and had a little intervention on his side.

While I can only hope the game is a good one I’m not quite sure these are the most deserving teams (and note I’m not saying the Ravens or Skins are either!)

What are your thoughts good sir?

MA:  I just want to preface this with two admitted biases.  One: I am a Redskins fan, so I hate the Giants.  Two: I hate Mannings*.

*  I’ll admit Eli has had a good season this year, and I think we saw how much Peyton did for that team.  But never have two players been more overrated in my opinion.  Eli gets a free pass for throwing a tantrum like a petulant five year old when the Chargers drafted him, and he has underwhelmed up until this season.  Peyton is just as, if not more overrated.  He has never performed well when it counts (See 9-10 playoff record despite constantly having home field, or this play)

But all my biases aside, I have a bad feeling about this one (as someone who wants the Giants to lose).  Somehow the line on this thing had New England giving 3.5 points (generally if teams are even Vegas puts the home team -3, neutral field is a pick ’em).  I don’t know what the line is now but I just don’t see how the Patriots are favorites.

I agree with you, neither team looked that great last week.  The question is, who shakes off that performance.  The way the Giants have been playing is not dissimilar to 2007, but the team in general is much better.  The team has gelled at the right time, which the last few years means a lot (the Packers were in almost an identical position last year, having to win the last two regular season games just to get in).  Momentum means a lot in the NFL, especially the playoffs, and it just feels like New York has had it.

What do you think about the offensive and defensive matchups?

TH:  Well, I think the offenses of both teams CAN be tremendous and put up a lot of points, especially if all the parts are clicking, which did not really happen in the championship games. I think the offenses will be clicking though, so the defense will have tall task and be the key factor in this game.

While the Pat’s defense has been overwhelmed for a majority of the season, it has stood its ground when it needed to and I think it will do so again. Watch out for Wilfork stuffing the run and getting pressure on Manning. The Giants defense  has not been the greatest either, but there are some shining starts like Jason Pierre-Paul who will wreck havoc on Brady if the O-line can’t stand up.
I think both defenses will have to try to force the offenses to throw, and if the Giants are successful in this they win.  Brady ALWAYS has a hard time when he is constantly pressured.  I think the Pats will need to step it up in the secondary because Eli will be throwing (he threw something like 65 times in the championship!) and forcing the Giants to run more will be a key.
Overall it comes down to good fundamental football, and I think this game is going to be a good, hard-fought, and close one….but I could be wrong.

Who is your key player and do you think the special teams will be the deciding factor? Should we move to putting down some scores on this one?

MA:  It seems like worst case scenario for the Patriots every way I look at it.  Offensively, they’re biggest advantage is a big question mark.  Without Gronkowski they can’t utilize their two tight end, slot receiver set which has been lethal.  Even if he plays he will be undoubtedly hobbled and the Giants plan to jam him.  If they can bump him even a little bit, when you throw that high ankle sprain in there he is going to be slow getting to his spots, which is going to throw the rhythm of that offense off big time.  And if there is one thing we learned about the Pats last week is that when their offense is not in rhythm it is pedestrian.  The Giants defense is not that good, except for their front 4.  The secondary includes many players who are lucky to be in the league still (especially Aaron Ross, who could be in for a long day).  But like you said, if that front 4 get to Brady, like every other team the Giants have played this postseason, it won’t matter how bad the back 7 are.

On the other side of the ball, Eli must be licking his chops.  The Patriots secondary made Joe Flacco look good (yeah I went there).  If the fearsome group of Torrey Smith, Anquan Bolden, and Doug Pitta chewed up the Pats D, then Manningham, Nicks, and the plagiarist of scoring celebrations, Victor Cruz must be feeling great, especially for how they torched a great secondary in San Fran last week.  As you already pointed out Vince Wilfork is key, but he needs to stop the run to eliminate the play action.  We’ve seen that if Manning has a small window, the horseshoe in his butt will find the open man.

I think the Giants have the edge by a little in all areas, if they can keep the momentum they have had since Week 16.  But Brady and Belichick are Brady and Belichick; they will be prepared and I doubt Brady will miss as many open throws as he did in the conference championships.  So I could be overreacting, drinking the Kool-Aid, and totally underrating the combo of revenge and “nobody believe in us” for the team from New England.

I have no idea what the score could be, but if I were betting I would take the Giants getting the points.

TH:  First of all, it should be apparent to our readers that you have been following these teams (or at least did more research on this recently haha) but I think worst case scenario might be a little over the top. True, with Gronkowski injured (although apparently not walking around with a boot now?) it cannot help their chances.  I think though, that the positives and negatives on each side might just wash each other out, both teams will be bringing it, and may the best one win!

I don’t have a strong feeling either way – but I think the Patriots with that Brady/Belicheck combo find a way to pull out the win:
Patriots 24 – Giants 20. 

P.S. – Madonna as the half-time show the worst choice or the absolute worst choice? Hopefully there’s something else going on for that time slot…
MA: I think on paper, yes Madonna is a horrendous choice.  But after the corpses of the Black Eyed Peas did whatever it was they did at halftime last year I think they scared off any chance of anything approaching modern pop music.  So it will take a truly awful performance to top that, in which case it will be so bad I will have to watch.  And if it’s just a typical halftime show, what a perfect time to grab a beer, and a fifth plate of food.
That’s all from us here at J. Pub.  Tune in Sunday to see if we have any clue of what we’re talking about.



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