Friday, February 01, 2008

Super Bowl Preview - New York vs. New England

New York Do’s and Don’t’s – Armin Mohajeri

Do try to repeat Week 17. The final score of 38-35 was the closest the Patriots came to losing all season. The Patriots had two other 3-point wins; however the Giants put up the most points against the Pats than any team, without the need for garbage time points. Other than Eli’s 4 TD passes, statistically the game was unimpressive. This has been the Giants’ formula during their road to the Super Bowl.

Do find Plaxico, early and often. Though he only had four catches, Plaxico victimized Ellis Hobbs the last time these teams played. His size advantage over Hobbs should be exploited. Eli should also find Amani Toomer, who has Super Bowl experience and, though he has regressed somewhat over the last couple of years, can still make the clutch catches when the team needs him most.

Do attack the line of scrimmage. I probably sound like a broken record, and this has been a daunting task for defenses, but I strongly feel that this is the key to beating the Patriots. Send the DEs as usual, but bring Fred Robbins from the inside and allow Torbor to attack from different angles. If Robbins gets in his groove and has a big game disrupting the opposing O-Line (he does this 2-3 times a season), Brady won’t have that nice middle-area of the pocket that he’s been comfortable with all season.

Don’t forget about Jacobs and Bradshaw. They can team up to wear down the elderly defense of the Patriots. They may get stuffed early in the game, but the key is to wear down the defense. The Patriots run defense is not invincible. They will eventually wear down if the Giants can commit to the run.

Don’t think you can get away running any screens to the RBs or WRs. Running a screen play against these Patriots has been a lesson in ineptitude for any team that has tried. The Pats defense is built to keep these plays from happening. They practice against one of the best teams at running the screen every day (let alone one of the best RBs at running the screen in Faulk).

Don’t give the Patriots any more bulletin board material. Plaxico Burress may think he’s the second-coming of Joe Nameth (I’d love to see him try to kiss a sideline reporter when he’s an old man), but he needs to keep his mouth shut. Strahan and anyone else who wants to declare their superiority over one of the greatest teams of all time would do well to shut their mouth as well. They should take a page out of the Patriots books and just take care of business.

New England Do’s and Don’t’s – Sum Mehrnama

Do fear the G-Men. The Giants have been playing truly inspired football ever since the loss to the Redskins in Week 15 of the regular season. Though the final scores in the games against Dallas and Green Bay were close, the play on the field in each game was easily one-sided in favor of New York. To put it bluntly, this team believes it can beat you … and they actually can. Fear the Giants, or else you’ll pay.

Do make use of the bulletin board material provided by the Giants this week. Whether it’s Plaxico Burress’ prediction of a 23-17 win for New York, or even Giants chairman Steve Tisch claiming that his team will win, USE THE FODDER they give you. Each statement is like an individually wrapped present from a distant relative. They don’t have to give them, but they are.

Do prepare some extra-protection schemes on offense. Assuming Tom Brady isn’t pulling a trick with his ankle injury, it means he’s going to be slower in scrambling than he usually is which isn’t fast in the first place. That, combined with the fact that the Giants had the most sacks in the NFL this season, means that Brady will be under pressure early and often. So be sure to have some packages ready with both Heath Evans and Kyle Brady in to pick up blitzes to give time for the underneath completions to Wes Welker and the bombs to Moss and Stallworth.

Don’t buy into your hype. Four of your last eight games were decided by less than 10-points. For most teams a win is still a win, but compared to your first twelve games (when only one game was decided by less than 17-points) you’ve been struggling. Don’t get me wrong, you are still the best team in the NFL this season, but you are by no means indestructible. Also, even though your passing game has been nearly unstoppable this year, it’s important to note that no season passing yardage leader in the NFL has ever won a Super Bowl. This ain’t a sure fire thing folks.

Don’t expect 100-yards from Maroney. That doesn’t mean he won’t break the century mark, but you shouldn’t expect it to happen. The Giants have been effective at stopping the run for the better part of the season and the only teams that have run effectively against them have done so by first establishing the passing attack. Until you hit Moss on a 30+ yard pass play, don’t expect Maroney to get more than the nominal 3-5 yard gains.

Don’t €µ©≠ this up. Tough talk aside, this is your game to win or lose. The Giants are a talented team, but you’re 18 – and friggin – 0. You are the better team in this game … by a mile and a half. Don’t forget that and, more importantly, don’t let the Giants forget that. This game shouldn’t even be too close, but you’ve lost some of that sense of urgency from the first 3 months of the season. Get it back before Sunday, or else you might be feeling the same pain felt by the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.

Matchups – Chris Clement

When the Patriots have the ball
Pats O-Line vs. Giants D-Line

One thing the Giants were able to do, at times during the 1st 3 quarters of their Week 17 matchup against the Pats, was put pressure on Tom Brady. As comfortable in the pocket as any QB in recent memory, don’t let the “ankle” issues fool you. Brady will be perfectly able to step into the pocket and deliver throws downfield. The key for the Giants, for all 60 minutes, is putting substantial pressure on Brady. It can’t be in spurts or 1 or 2 big hits, Strahan and co. have to do what no other team has been able to figure out this season: overmatch and over-scheme a dominant Patriot offensive line.

When the Giants have the ball
Brandon Jacobs/Ahmad Bradshaw vs. Patriot Linebackers

We all know the impact Kevin Faulk has had in the playoffs. Ditto for the resurgent Laurence Maroney. However, one advantage the Giants might have over the Patriots talent, yet aging, linebacking corps is the power of Brandon Jacobs and the speed, especially the second-level, of Ahmad Bradshaw. The two Giants backs both need to hold onto the ball, catch any screen pass their way, and pick up blitz packages to free up Eli to throw downfield. Jacobs, especially inside the 10, is almost more lethal catching the ball up the middle than he is running it. Take advantage of this new-age “Thunder n’ Lighting” early and often.

Intangibles – Chris Clement


By now you should know Eli hasn’t thrown a pick since mid-way through the 4th quarter in Week 17. He’s worked extremely well with Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress throughout the playoffs. Unfortunately, he hasn’t seen a defense – or a two-week driven scheme – led by the scheming genius known as Belichick. With that being said, Eli has to take care of the ball…at all costs. Sacks might have to be taken, as long as the ball isn’t directly given to a ball-hungry Patriot-secondary. Ditto for the Patsies. While it’s highly unlikely “King” Brady gives up three passes for the second straight game, the Patriots aren’t invulnerable to suffering the wrath of turnovers. Problem is: when’s the last time you saw one of their backs put the ball on the ground?

First-Two Drives

If the Patriots do one thing well (and yes, they do countless things more than well), it’s to answer to adversity in the form of an opponent scoring. Whether in the opening minutes of the game, the closing minutes of either half, or right out of the gate in the 2nd half, there’s a lot of game-planning to be done against this high-powered offense. The Giants would be better off throwing whatever tricks they have early and often – on offense and defense – at the Patriots when it matters the most. The opening drives for each team – in each half – may very well dictate if this game is close…or a lost cause.

Final Predictions

Stay tuned: Final thoughts and score predictions coming tomorrow.

No comments: