By Brandon Niles, Explorebigsky.com Sports Writer
As I spend my Saturday rummaging through bulk bags of tortilla chips and chopping up jalapenos for tomorrow’s festivities, I get the strange sense of déjà vu. It could be the usual snacks that I’ve grown accustomed to making and serving during my annual Super Bowl party, but it seems more to do with this year’s match-up than anything else. The Giants and the Patriots met in the Super Bowl just four years ago, and both teams look remarkably similar this year.
The Giants are a team that had to scrap and claw in order to make the playoffs, getting hot at the right time and fighting to win the NFC East division. In the playoffs, the Giants quickly dispatched the Atlanta Falcons and then shocked everyone by defeating last year’s Super Bowl winning Packers. Finally, they fought their way to a victory over the defensive oriented 49ers in a physical battle, which ended on a fluke fumble in overtime. Now they face a familiar foe, with a familiar chip on their shoulder and a scrappy disposition.
The Patriots on the other hand have been favorites since the beginning of the season. Most experts picked them to win their division and to be a formidable force come playoff time. They coasted to the first seed with a 13-3 record, earning a first round bye in the playoffs. Then they dispatched the Broncos with ease in a lopsided victory, and they beat a talented Ravens team by making the right plays at the right time. The Patriots have been a dominant offensive team this season, overcoming deficiencies on defense in order to make it to their fifth Super Bowl in the last decade.
Just like now, in 2008 the Giants were a defensive team that backed their way into the playoffs. They were a team that most people thought weren’t good enough to make it to the Super Bowl. They were a team that won the NFC Championship game off a fluke turnover in overtime. The biggest difference is that this year they have an underrated offense that ranked eighth in the league. While many aspects of this Giants team compare to the Super Bowl winners in 2008, it’s reasonable to say this squad may be even better.
Like this year, in 2008,the Patriots were a team that played defense as an afterthought, preferring to outscore opponents with a tremendous passing attack. In that season, Randy Moss broke records for receiving touchdowns at the wide receiver position. This season, it was Rob Gronkowski breaking that same record, only for tight ends. Both Patriots squads were fantastic during the regular season, and both were favored in virtually every game they played.
With the defensive pressure the Giants are able to get on opposing quarterbacks, the hot streak they’ve been on for the past several weeks, and the prolific passing of quarterback Eli Manning, they are barely the underdogs in what looks to be a fantastic match-up. The Patriots will surely be able to put up points with the brilliant passing of future hall of fame quarterback Tom Brady. Ultimately, it should be a fun and exciting game to watch with both teams having a great shot at emerging victorious.
I believe that the talented group of pass rushers on the Giants defensive line, led by Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck will be too much for the Patriots to handle and that they’ll force Brady into making just enough mistakes to give Eli Manning a chance to win the game. Manning has been clutch all year, and I believe he’ll come up big in this game too. Fans should fasten their seatbelts for what should be an excellent game between two teams who are getting to know each other very well. My prediction: Giants win, 27-24. Enjoy the game!