Super Bowl Pick!

Doesn’t it seem like it’s been a month since Championship Weekend? The Billy Cundiff miss, the defensive battle in the pouring rain between the Giants and the 49ers? I understand that the Super Bowl hype machine needs the extra week to get oiled up but it really comes at the expense of the great momentum that the playoffs had been building.Every year I sort of forget this–perhaps it is willful ignorance–but Championship Weekend really does mark the end of the football season as football fans know it. The Super Bowl technically is a football game but it’s become such a spectacle that unless your favorite team is involved, of which there is a 1/16 chance, the distractions will outweigh the game. There’s of course the food and the drink–although SOME of us have been imbibing all season–but that’s not all.There’s the people you will be watching with who haven’t seen a snap of football all season, the halftime show which lasts about three hours and would only be enjoyable and relevant if you could go AT LEAST two decades back in a time machine, and the incessant need to watch and evaluate the commercials (COMMERCIALS!!).

And all of this pales in comparison to the increasing awareness that this is all we have left. After the game ends, it is truly the deep, dark offseason. No real football FOREVER until mid-September. It’s kind-of-sort-of OK through March Madness and the NBA Playoffs but as much as we try to delude ourselves, they’re not the same. Last year, I watched women’s soccer. And I liked it! Which must mean that this year will see me follow and perhaps attempt to write about any number of sports I only care about for a week or two every four years because it’s the Summer Olympics. Ugh, and Mel Kiper is about to get thawed from his cryogenic freezing champer for the seemingly endless and always excruciating pre-Draft coverage. And please don’t get me started on baseball.

So this is all that we’ve got left and it doesn’t even feel like the real thing. One way to fill the void is to pick up a new weekly activity in lieu of watching football on Sunday afternoons. Last year, I picked up GMAT studying and the end results were worth it. This year? Not sure, perhaps I’ll take the GREs, perhaps I’ll volunteer, perhaps I’ll commit to writing every Sunday, perhaps I will just morph into a sloth. Whatever it is, it won’t be as good as football. Sigh.

Enough of my depressing eulogy for a semi-animite (I shouldn’t have had to make this word up – it should already exist) object that ISN’T DEAD QUITE YET. On to the Super Bowl pick, the last pick in a series of battles that I’ve enjoyed immensely with my friend Asif, who writes Uninformed Commentary.

Previous Records:

Ryan
Regular Season: 134-113-9
Playoffs: 5-5Asif:
Regular season: 131-116-9
Playoffs: 4-6

New England (-3) vs. NY Giants

Ryan: Spoiler alert: Asif is picking the Giants. I haven’t been able to get a good feel on this game one way or the other so I might as well pick the Patriots to cover so you don’t have to read the Giants’ blueprint to victory twice.

These are two different teams than the ones that played Week 9: That game might as well have taken place in a different season because the Giants and Patriots bear little resemblance to what and where they were in that incarnation.

That win put the Giants at 6-2. After it, they lost four in a row, the last of which was the “We Believe in Ourselves” 38-35 loss to the Packers in Week 13. Since then, they’ve won six of seven, the lone loss being an inexplicable egg laid against the Redskins who were 2-0 against the Giants and 3-11 against the rest of the league this season (conversely the Giants are 12-5 in games not against the Redskins).

The Patriots, meanwhile, have not lost since. Their offense has of course been methodical. Their defense didn’t improve right away but has looked MUCH better in the Playoffs, giving up 30 points and 650 total yards in the two games against the Broncos and Ravens.

The Patriots D will force at least one turnover: An underrated aspect of this Patriots team has been the ability of its defense to force an insane amount of turnovers this season–36 in 18 games while only failing to force one once. The Giants turned the ball over 25 times in 19 games this season.

Eli Manning has just a litttttttle bit of Brett Favre in him where you know he will throw a couple passes up for grabs and HAVE to capitalize on them because he is so good the rest of the game. The Giants will get their yards and score their points but my prediction is that they lose the turnover battle.

Rob Gronkowski is a mystery but Wes Welker will tear up the Giants defense either way: So we have absolutely no idea what we’re going to get out of Gronkowski. The range of his possible production goes from zero to infinity. High ankle sprains are tricky; almost nobody comes back strong from them just two weeks later. That being said, almost nobody is as freakishly athletic as Rob Gronkowski so the normal laws of physics don’t really apply in his kitchen. The man could also win an insanity plea if he ever needed it in court. The line seems to suggest that he should be able to contribute–otherwise wouldn’t the Giants be favored?–but to bank on that would be pure speculation.

While Gronkowski’s performance is in question, Wes Welker is going to shred. The Giants’ pass rush will force Brady to get rid of the ball quickly and Welker is his security blanket; Welker had nine catches for 136 yards in Week 9 and 11 for 103 in Super Bowl XLII. Granted, both of those were Giants victories so his stats don’t necessarily have a correlation to a Patriots win but he presents a huge match-up problem for the Giants secondary.

We’re sort of due for a crappy Super Bowl: The last four Super Bowls have all been good games. Saints-Colts ended with the Saints’ winning 31-17 but it was a game until late in the fourth quarter. The other three–Packers-Steelers, Steelers-Cardinals, and Giants-Patriots–all came down to the final minute.

It’s complete gambler’s fallacy to say that these independent events will make this year’s Super Bowl a blowout but similar gambler’s fallacy propelled me to a 54% winning rate against the spread this season. So maybe there’s a little method to my madness?

Anyway, I don’t think that the Giants could blow the Patriots out but I do think that the Patriots could blow the Giants out.

Asif: You already know where I’m going to with this one, so I’ll use this space to introduce my convoluted, homerist logic for why I think the Giants will win.

Throw out the regular season records: Forget that the Patriots finished 13-3 and the Giants were 9-7 during the regular season because the records are made irrelevant in light of their respective strengths of schedule. The Giants played the toughest schedule in the NFL this season while the Patriots faced the easiest slate in the league. In fact, New England only faced two teams that finished the regular season over .500, and the Patriots lost both matches, falling to the Steelers in Week 8 and the Giants in Week 9. The Pats played one winning team in the playoffs, the Ravens, and would have lost that game too, if Lee Evans wasn’t a constant disappointment and Billy Cundiff didn’t suck at his job. So needless to say, no one is afraid of the Patriots.

The Giants will be able to get pressure on Brady: They did it in Week 9, while Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck were still battling injuries. Both players figure to have a much larger impact in this game. The Patriots have a very good offensive line, but the Giants can get to any one, they’re coming off a demolition of San Francisco’s vaunted O-line in the NFC title game.

Eli Manning will have time to throw, and the Patriots can’t cover anyone: The only pass rusher the Patriots have is Vince Wilfork, and while he’s an absolute beast, New York should be able to block him up on most plays. When given time, the Giants love to throw the ball deep. The Patriots don’t have a single player in their secondary capable of covering Hakeem Nicks, or Victor Cruz… or Mario Manningham. Expect a lot of three receiver sets, with Cruz working in the slot.

Gronkowski makes a huge difference: If Rob Gronkowski is 100% in this game, the Giants face a much tougher challenge. That said, they can beat the Patriots, as they did in Week 9, even if Gronkowski can go. Gronk had over 100 receiving yards in that game, but expect the Giants to change their game plan for the Patriots’ receivers this time around. The Giants were pretty successful in shutting down Jermichael Finley and with the exception of two plays, kept Vernon Davis in check against San Francisco. Gronkowski is better than those two, but not if he can’t run.

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3 Responses to Super Bowl Pick!

  1. mweisburgh says:

    Why don’t you do election predictions and results?

  2. Dale says:

    hahaha mitch

    great article Ryan, reads from the mouth of Louie

  3. Phil Rockwell says:

    Ryan,

    Hope Asif isn’t right! He seems pretty cock-sure that the Patriots didn’t play anyone and can’t cover anyone, etc. However, the beauty of the NFL (thanks to salary cap and draft rules) is that all the teams are basically tough and have some of the finest athletes in the world just waiting to excel if the other team lets up a bit. (Look at the lowly Chiefs beating the Packers.)

    For my money, it will come down to turnovers and some surprising plays from guys like Edelman, Faulk, Ochocinco, and Ridley.

    Best!

    Phil

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