02 February 2008

Ridiculously Specific Super Bowl Preview

The NFL's biggest game kicks off Sunday evening at 6:17 PM. The Giants and the Patriots each have talented players, and each has a decent chance to win the game. The Patriots, however, will come away with the victory. Here's how it will play out.

New York will be able to move the ball well against the occasionally slow Patriots defense. In the first half, Eli Manning (22-31, 217 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT) will make smart, short completions to keep the chains moving while Brandon Jacobs (14 carries, 34 yards) pounds away to little apparent effect; in the second, Ahmad Bradshaw (11 carries, 71 yards, 1 TD) will break a couple of long runs.

Eli's main target will be Plaxico Burress (7 catches, 85 yards), but his touchdowns will come, respectively, on a six-yard out to Kevin Boss (4 catches, 23 yards, 1 TD) and a 9-yard curl to Amani Toomer (5 catches, 58 yards, 1 TD).

The Patriots will get out of the gate quickly; the Giants secondary, especially SS James Butler, will struggle in the first half. Tom Brady (25-33, 311 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT) will connect on two deep passes to Randy Moss (4 catches, 91 yards, 1 TD) in the first quarter, both on plays in which Butler is drawn out of position by play-action fakes.

In the second half, the New York defense will adjust to the Patriots attack, causing New England to shift their tactics. Laurence Maroney (13 carries, 44 yards) will get the ball more after only having 3 carries in the first half, and Wes Welker (8 catches, 101 yards) will become Brady's favorite target.

The Patriots will be ahead at halftime, but it won't be a blowout - just a reasonably close 13-7 margin. With their first possession of the third quarter, New England will march methodically down the field, and Brady will connect with Ben Watson (5 catches, 48 yards, 1 TD) for a touchdown that will put the Pats up 20-7.

The Giants will try to come back throughout the second half, and will close the margin to 23-17 when Eli connects with Toomer with six minutes left in the game.

But when the Patriots get the ball back, they'll score one more time, as Kevin Faulk (6 catches, 68 yards, 1 TD) will catch a screen pass when the Giants blitz six on third-and-five and take it twenty-nine yards for the clinching touchdown.

Eli, under pressure from Junior Seau, will throw an interception to Richard Seymour (3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT) with under a minute left, and Brady will kneel twice to run out the clock.

Final score: Patriots 30, Giants 17. MVP: Tom Brady.

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