New England Patriots vs. New York Giants
University of Phoenix Stadium
|New England||Stat||New York|
|115.6 ypg (13th)||Rush Offense||134.2 ypg (4th)|
|295.7 ypg (1st)||Pass Offense||197.1 ypg (21st)|
|411.2 ypg (1st)||Total Offense||331.4 ypg (16th)|
|36.8 ppg (1st)||Scoring Offense||23.3 ppg (14th)|
|98.2 ypg (10th)||Rush Defense||97.7 ypg (8th)|
|190.1 ypg (6th)||Pass Defense||207.3 ypg (11th)|
|288.3 ypg (4th)||Total Defense||305 ypg (7th)|
|17.1 ppg (4th)||Scoring Defense||21.9 ppg (17th)|
Well, folks, the last football game of the year is upon us. . .and before anyone asks, no, the Pro Bowl doesn't count.
Let's get all the bad sports movie cliches out of the way. . .this is Rocky vs. Drago. This is Hickory High vs. South Bend Central. This is Chico's Bail Bonds vs. the Yankees.
In one corner, you have the New York Football Giants. I'll tell you. . .they sure as heck don't look like the same team that the Vikings mopped the floor with in late November. Eli Manning has gone from being unable to remember which color uniforms his teammates are wearing to, as Denny Green used to say about his quarterbacks, "driving the car." The last turnover the Giants committed came in their regular season finale against the Patriots. They've played 194 plays this post-season without turning the ball over. . .which, considering that they've played three road games, including visits to the top 2 seeds in the NFC Playoffs, is mighty damn impressive. Their secondary, which has been ravaged by injuries, held up remarkably well against the Cowboys and the Packers, and now it's time to see if they can go to the well once more. They showed in Week 17 of the regular season that they can go toe-to-toe with the vaunted Patriots, and would love nothing better than to alter the history books.
In the other corner, you have the New England Patriots. They've been a machine for the better part of the 2007 season. They set a new NFL record for the most points scored in one season, eclipsing the mark that had been held by the 1998 Vikings. They have the first QB to ever throw 50 TD passes in a season. They have an insanely deep receiving corps and a running back that's finally starting to get the hang of the whole NFL thing. Oh, and their defense isn't too shabby, either. They struggled a bit in the AFC Championship game against San Diego, but they've had a full two weeks to game plan for this one. Say what you will about the Patriots. . .and, with some of the stories that have come out recently, there's no doubt that there will be people that do. . .but when it comes to getting his team ready for big games, there are very few coaches that prepare their charges better than Bill Belichick.
The thing that's interesting to me about this game is that it would appear that all the pressure is on New England. If the Giants go out and lose this game, certainly their fans will be a bit disappointed. . .but they can also look at themselves and say, "Well, our team played above their heads, they weren't supposed to be this far, and nobody thought we were going to be here when the season started." The Patriots, on the other hand? Not so much. Right now, they're the 1990-91 University of Nevada-Las Vegas Runnin' Rebels. Does anyone remember that the Runnin' Rebels that season won their first 34 games? No. . .but they sure as heck remember them losing to Duke in the Final Four. That's the sort of thing the Patriots are looking to avoid. If the Giants finish their season 13-7, which they would with a loss tonight, then nobody's going to bad mouth them. If the Patriots finish 18-1, it will be viewed as nothing short of a disaster. There's no "good season" for New England if they should lose this game.
So, what is tonight's outcome going to be? Right now, the line is showing New England as a 12-point favorite. If I were one of the approximately eleventy billion people that had money down on this one. . .and I'm not. . .I think that the Giants will keep it closer than 12 points. But, I think we're going to see perfection achieved this evening in Glendale.
Gonzo's Final Score Prediction: Patriots 38, Giants 34
There you have it, folks. . .enjoy the game, enjoy Tom Petty, enjoy the commercials, and remember. . .after tonight, there's no meaningful football until August. I know, it kills me to say it, too.
If you want to discuss the game, feel free to leave comments.