Super Bowl XLVI | Who Has the Edge?
Super Bowl XLVI features a rematch of Super Bowl XLII, as well as Week 9 of this past season. The New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots in both those games by a combined seven points and both because of late heroics by Giants quarterback Eli Manning. These two teams are very evenly matched, but who has the edge? Well, we break down the matchups and take a look at who should be the favorites coming into this game.
Manning and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady have made a name for themselves due to their ability to lead their teams to victory in clutch situations. Manning set an NFL record this season with 15 fourth quarter touchdowns, while Brady–a three-time Super Bowl champion and two-time NFL MVP–has been among the best in the game for the past decade. As well as Eli has played this season, I got to give a slight edge to Brady, who’s a man on a mission this season to get his fourth ring.
The Giants two-headed monster at running back, consisting of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, combined for 1,230 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis carried most of the workload, running for 667 yards and 11 touchdowns, while spell back Danny Woodhead rushed for 351 yards and one score. I give the edge to the Giants running game, because it’s more consistent and sets up the play action passing attack much better for the Giants than the Patriots running game does.
The Giants trio of Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham are all speedsters and are nightmares for opposing defenses since it’s so hard to contain all three. The Patriots have Wes Welker, arguably the best slot receiver in the game, who is as sure-handed as they come. Deion Branch is a consistent target for Brady, but the Patriots rely a lot more on their tight ends in the passing game. Plus for the Giants, one of their receivers is sure to have a big game while the others are decoys.
Like I said above, the Patriots rely so much on their tight end tandem of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez to open up their passing game. Gronkowski, who is listed as questionable for the game but will no doubt play, set an NFL record this season for tight ends with 17 receiving touchdowns. Oh, and did I mention that he’s also an unstoppable force of nature? On the other sideline, there’s Jake Ballard who, other than catching the game-winning touchdown against the Patriots in that Week 9 game, hasn’t been a big factor for the Giants this season.
The Giants and Patriots offensive lines are both shaky and susceptible to blitzes. The Patriots line couldn’t stop the Giants pass rush in Super Bowl XLII, while the Giants line nearly cost them the NFC Championship Game because Manning was running for his life against the San Francisco 49ers. I’m giving a slight edge to the Patriots offensive line who did a good job against the Baltimore Ravens pass rush in the AFC Championship Game, but it’s not going to be any easier for them against the Giants pass rush.
Like I said, the Giants have a devastating pass rush, and are able to get to the quarterback with just a four-man rush. Just ask the Green Bay Packers, who were unable to stop the Giants defensive line, leaving quarterback Aaron Rodgers scrambling all game. The Patriots Vince Wilfork is one of the best defensive tackles in the game, and constantly beat double-teams against the Ravens. But I got to go with the Giants, who just know how to give quarterbacks nightmares all game long.
The Giants rush defense ranked No. 19 in the league this season, and the Patriots were No. 17. Both linebacking corps are good, but not great. The Giants linebackers are better at rushing the passing, while the Patriots linebackers are able to both stop the run and cover the middle and flat zones in pass coverage. Slight edge to the Patriots in this category.
Both teams rank towards the bottom of the league in this category, with the Giants at No. 29, and the Patriots at No. 31. However, the Giants secondary was able to shut down both the Packers and 49ers receivers, not letting them get yards after the catch. The Patriots secondary bends but doesn’t break, and that’s how they’ve been all season long. Slight edge to the Giants in this one.
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has taken criticism left and right, but doesn’t let it affect him and his team. Due to that, they’re in their second Super Bowl in four years, and I’d say the team is better now than when they won it all in 2007. On the other side is Bill Belichick, who is in his fifth Super Bowl with the Patriots since taking over the head-coaching job in New England in 2000. He is a realist and a genius, always having a plan for everything. That’s why I give Belichick the edge over Coughlin in this one, because I believe Belichick has formulated a plan from the film on his team’s last two losses to the Giants.
I was going to measure intangibles, but that is honestly a hard category to give either team an edge in. This is the Super Bowl, and both teams know what’s on the line in this game. Both squads are confident, fired-up and ready for this one. This should be a great Super Bowl, just like how it was four years ago.