The three-time Super Bowl winners advanced to their seventh championship game since 1985 led once again by quarterback Tom Brady. Brady, 34 years old and a 12-year veteran, has appeared in all three wins and holds many NFL records including most consecutive pass attempts without an interception in the regular season (358 between Oct. 24, 2010 – Sept. 12, 2011).
Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork is touted among the top players for the Patriots and their defense as a whole. As Bucky Brooks, an analyst for NFL.com said, “Championship defenses are built upon the premise of stopping the run, and Wilfork is one of the best interior run defenders in the game.”
Stopping the running game will be important against the Giants, but not nearly as important as stopping Eli Manning’s arm. The Giants have notched 4,734 passing yards with 359 completions on 589 attempts. Once again, enter Wilfork.
In the AFC Championship game against the Baltimore Ravens, Wilfork tormented Joe Flacco by carrying his blocker along with him and forcing Flacco to release the ball early.
New England doesn’t seem to be dwelling on the 17-1 season courtesy of the Giants, either. “No…that’s in our past,” said running back Benjarvus Green-Ellis to the media. “We can’t do anything about that so we’re going to focus on moving forward.”
Safety James Ihedigbo is, however, dwelling on something else. “You’re preparing for the Super Bowl so your preparation is everything and the time off that you get in the midst of the chaos is going to be important. It’s my first time and it’s the first for a lot of guys but really just being smart with your decisions.”
The Giants not only have momentum, they know how to beat the Patriots. When they beat New England four years ago to give the Patriots their only loss that season, they were on the same type of roll that brought them to the most important game of the year.
This time, quarterback Eli Manning has thrown 4,933 yards, has a 61 percent completion rate and a 92.9 rating. Not only does he have the numbers on his own, he has two regular season 1,000-yard receivers. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks lead the team in receptions (82 and 76 respectively).
New York also has the regular season momentum of having beat New England at Gillette Stadium on Nov. 6. Manning threw the winning touchdown in that game with 15 seconds on the clock.
The Giants are going to have to make sure not to underestimate New England. The Patriots are going to be out for revenge after the loss four years ago and their offense is stellar even if their defense can leave a lot to be desired.
Preparation is also on the top of the list for New York. Manning made sure his teammates realized that this is no ordinary game.
“We have to have great preparation. Prepare this week like you’re playing the game this week. Once you get to Indianapolis and you have to take a bus ride to practice – your whole schedule gets thrown off,” Manning told the media. “Once you get there try to keep the same routine on some things. Everything that we would do during a normal week, we’re going to get it done this week and then next week have great practices and preparation, continue preparing, but get our workload in this week.”
James Yezek – Freshman
New York – 24, New England – 17
“I believe the Giants are going to win because they’re on fire right now in the best time of the year. Their offense is doing pretty good, their defense is on the ball. The Patriots do have a good offense, but their defense…I feel like the Giants are going to be able to run on them and pass on them.”
Ben Wingrove – Sophomore
New England – 35, New York – 21
“The Patriots will win 35 – 21 because of Gronk [Rob Gronkowski]. He had three touchdowns.”
Josh Yohe – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review sports writer
New York – 30, New England – 24
“The Patriots are flawed defensively and the Giants are on fire.”