The New England Patriots and the New York Football Giants will line up this Sunday for Superbowl XLVI. The game has a myriad of stoylines, so the Pleiad is here to breakdown the important stuff.
The Matchup: Giant’s Offense vs. Patriot’s Defense
Eli Manning is having his best year as an NFL quarterback as he has passed for 4933 yards, 29 touchdowns, only 16 interceptions, and was voted into the Pro Bowl. His receivers have developed into one of the top receiving corps in the league, with the emergence of Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham. Cruz seemed to come out of nowhere ending up with over 1000 yards on the year.
The key to the Giants success is the running game. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw have been inconsistent all year, so the team will need production out of these two backs in order to display a balanced attack. Jacobs, although being one of the largest running backs in the history of the NFL at 6-foot-4 and 264 pounds, has struggled with yards after contact averaging 1.58 yards. Only three running backs in the entire league average fewer yards after contact, so Jacobs will need to toughen up if the Giants want to run the ball effectively.
This Patriots defense was by far one of Bill Belichick’s worst defenses in the regular season with NFL rankings of 31st in total defense and 31st in passing defense, but the unit has stepped it up during the playoffs giving up only 252 total yards to Denver and 398 to Baltimore.
That being said, the defense has not been tested by an elite offense like New York possesses. The New England defensive line, led by Vince Wilfork, must find a way to get to Manning if they want to slow down the Giants offense. Mark Anderson, who leads the team with 10 sacks, will be relied upon strongly to provide that pressure. New England’s secondary has started 16 different players this year because of injuries and performance, so pressure from the defensive line is vital in New England’s defensive success.
The Matchup: Patriot’s Offense vs. Giant’s Defense
The Patriots had the second highest rated overall offense in the NFL this season. They are lead by future hall of fame Quarterback Tom Brady who was second in the league in passing yards with 5,235, second most in regular season history. The offense relies heavily on the tight end combination of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Gronkowski shattered the NFL single season tight end records for receiving yards and receiving touchdowns with 1327 and 17 respectively.
While the face of the Patriots offense is undoubtedly Tom Brady, the New England tight ends are such a match up nightmare because of their ability to gain yards after the catch. Gronkowski and Hernandez are 6’6” 265 lbs and 6’1” 245 pounds respectively and making them very difficult to tackle. The combination accounted for 24 of the 39 passing touchdowns and 2,037 of the 5,235 yards thrown by tom Brady.
The Giants had the 27th ranked overall defense during the regular season, allowing 376 yards per game. The unit turned it up a notch towards the end of the season, helping the Giants win seven of their final eight games, including playoffs, while outscoring opponents 201-111.
The Giants defense is centered around their defensive line, particularly the “Nascar” lineup consisting of Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Uminyora and Dave Tollefson. They are referred to as the “Nascar” lineup because they are four defensive ends, making them faster than typical defensive tackles. Jason Pierre-Paul had a breakout season with 16.5 sacks and 65 tackles, leading all Giants linemen in both categories.