By Steven Schweibold
Four years ago the undefeated Patriots and the scrappy Giants faced off in one of the greatest, if not the greatest, Super Bowl of all time. It is a game that still haunts Tom Brady and propelled Eli Manning to that coveted title of "upper tier" quarterback status. Even with all of their success, these two quarterbacks still have something to prove. Tom Brady hasn’t won a championship since 2005 and needs to prove that he doesn’t need an elite defense to win the big game. Eli Manning needs another title to step out of his brother’s shadow and become an elite level quarterback.
Statistically speaking, in the postseason these have been very similar teams, but have taken two very different paths to get here. The Giants had to face both the #1 and #2 seeds in the NFC on the road, while the Patriots had home field advantage throughout the payoffs. Both teams are battle tested, but the Giants have proven they have what it takes to win the big games against championship caliber teams.
The Giants and the Patriots both have excellent defensive lines and they will play a pivotal role in Sunday’s game. Just like 2008, if the Giants pass rush can throw Brady off his game, they have a shot at stopping their passing attack. The Patriots proved against the Ravens that their pass rush can be the difference maker and disrupt a capable offense. However, the Giants have a better offense than any other team the Patriots have faced in the postseason.
These two teams faced each other earlier this season in November and remained scoreless up until the third quarter. Brady had three turnovers and was disrupted for most of the game by the Giant’s defense. Despite having one interception, Manning had a good game and benefited from a balanced offensive attack with the Giant’s solid running game. In fact, the Giants won the game on a final drive that had striking similarity to 2008 Super Bowl.
This game is going to be close and will be boring at times, but I think there is a potential for this to be another classic Super Bowl. These are two evenly matched teams that have a recent history of close, down to the wire games. Even though it will be close, I believe that the Giants will pull out a victory and Eli will be elevated to elite quarterback status.