New England Patriots (-3) vs. New York Giants, 6:30 ET - NBC (Indianapolis, IN)
The rematch of Superbowl 42. New England was 18-0 looking to go for perfection against a Giants team that just got 'hot' at the right moment. We all know what happened then. The Patriots, 12.5 point favorites, ended up losing by a field goal after that improbable David Tyree catch set up a game winning TD pass from Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress.
That was then - this is now. The Patriots have won 10 games in a row - but somehow the Giants are the hotter football team? Seems to me like we have two freight trains headed right at each other - with the Giants train (peppered with band wagoners) being a little more healthy. I haven't really paid much attention to the Super Bowl coverage this week but about the only big story has been Rob Gronkowski's left ankle - and Cris Carter (ESPN Analyst, former WR for the Vikings) chickening out at an ESPN team building event.
When the Pats have the ball - they have Tom Brady calling the shots. He didn't look so hot against the Ravens in the AFC Conference Championship game. However, he did have an incredible one yard TD run that hasn't gotten enough credit. This guy has been playing football for 12 years and still plays the game like he's a rookie trying to make the team. Not a lot of seasoned veterans are diving head first at the goal line into the vaunted Ravens D, let alone first ballot hall of famers. That's the type of grittiness Brady brings to the table. I've always been a P. Manning over Brady guy - but with plays like this and another Super Bowl under his belt - how can we not call Brady the best of all time? That's of course if Peyton's younger brother has something to say about that.
The Giants have been awesome these past 5 weeks. I've come up with every excuse in the book to go against them the last 4. Romo won't lose this game with the Division on the line, Falcons are the perfect opponent to take out the Giants, Packers were 15-1 - way too good for the Giants, and finally the Niners are the team of destiny. No matter how I've stacked it against the Giants they've always responded in different ways. The thing about them is they can beat you any way. They're like chameleons (kind of queer) in their ability to change how they play the game. High scoring affair against the Packers? How's 37 points sound? Tough, gritty game against the Niners? How does a 10 minute edge in Time of Possession sound? No matter what dog fight they've gotten into - they've found a way to get out of it time and time again. That's why they are so easy to root for. They keep expectations extremely low - and then surprise the shit out of you when you least expect it.
That's just the thing. Expectations have completely shifted. Even though the Patriots are favored by 3 points in this game - every big wig expert has gotten on the air and talked about how surprising it is to see that the Giants aren't at least favored in this game. The Expectations have definitely been raised for the Giants - they're no longer the friendly underdog - now the spotlight is on them and quite frankly, I just see Eli Manning getting owned.
Prediction: New England 31, New York 24 - there you have it folks - its been a fun year for football - hopefully we end the year on some positive notes - and by notes I mean Benjamins.
Last Week: 1-1
Playoff Record: 6-4
Season Record: 130-126-10