Friday, February 3, 2012
Pats motivated but still no match for Manning and the Giants
The New England Patriots aren't as good a football team as the group that marched undefeated into Super Bowl 42 four years ago, but that doesn't make them any less dangerous. If anything, the Patriots are probably hungrier this year because of what transpired in 2008, when what was supposed to be a coronation turned into the most stunning upset since Joe Namath and the Jets knocked off the heavily-favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl 3.
Fate has offered the Pats a payback scenario by delivering their nemesis as opponents Sunday in Indianapolis, where a win over the New York Giants would go a long way towards healing the psychological scars from having their pursuit of perfection derailed by the upstart Giants four years ago.
The problem for the Patriots is that the Giants are a substantially better team now than they were then, especially at the most important position on the field. Right now, Eli Manning is the best quarterback in football. He thrives under pressure. The bigger the stakes, the better he plays, and it doesn't get any bigger than the Super Bowl. Between Manning and a defensive pass rush that neither Green Bay nor San Francisco could stop, the Giants are the better team on both sides of the ball. Throw in a three point cushion as the oddsmakers' underdogs and the smart money is on the Giants again. This time, though, they'll only ruin the Patriots' day - not their whole season.
Prediction: Giants 30 Patriots 20.