This is a very difficult game for me to pick due to wanting so badly to be watching Patriots/Packers. However, it is the last pick of the season. I don’t even know what the spread is (it was 2 touchdowns I believe at one point) – but whatever it is, it is too high and the Giants will cover and I’ll even say Giants to win.
NE on offense: Kevin Faulk. He is one constant Brady has been able to go to now for years. He is a very solid receiver and tough player – one of those quiet players who could be a major reason NE pulls out a victory. He had 47 receptions this past year and when Welker is covered, appears to be Brady’s crutch.
NE on defense: Officiating could be a major factor. This could be a game where the adrenaline and overall dirtiness of some of the players involved could be an issue. The dirtiest player in the NFL, Vince Wilfork, needs to be watched carefully. This guy has been fined 4 times this past year for various offenses, including intentionally, clearly intentionally, trying to take out JP Losman’s knee. He’s a jackass. Add in Rodney Harrison who has always been a problem and the NE linebackers (Seau, Bruschi especially) who make a habit of hitting well after the play is over. With proper officiating, NE’s cheap play could affect them negatively in this game.
Giants on offense: KEEP DOING WHAT YOU’RE DOING – IT’S WORKING! I would think as a coach against one the NFL’s best teams in a long time, it may be tempting to throw in some trick plays or somehow come at NE with a bunch of new plays. A couple wrinkles might be OK, but I would strongly recommend overall that the Giants continue the nice play mix on offense that they have been using the last 4-5 games. I think keeping Eli as comfortable as possible and playing within himself will be key, because we know Belichick will do his best to confuse and fluster Eli. Belichick, no question will be working hard to bring back Eli’s loser face. But the last few games, we’ve seen a maturing Eli who has handled immense pressure quite effectively (so much so that I have had to back off making fun of his loser face).
Giants defense: BE SENSIBLE WITH THE RUSH. I can see the pass rushers for the Giants (D-Line and linebackers) getting too pumped to flatten Brady and take him out of the game only to be burned by dump screens to Maroney or Faulk or Welker. I think some carefully thought out corner/safety blitz looks dropping Strahan and/or the other end (Oseawelhalkiwaher923n) back into screen coverage could be disruptive. The Giants D has to work hard to focus on one possession at a time because NE loves to fluster opponents by marching down and making things looks easy. Also, big note to Giants defense: WES WELKER RARELY GOES DEEP!! Every NE game I’ve watched has Welker running slants inside or little outs, but I’ve rarely see him go deep.
OK, my real take on this game. I really don’t like NE. I don’t mind Brady, but can’t stand Belichick. He is swarthy and annoying. I agree with the Senate for wanting to look into why the Spygate tapes were destroyed by the NFL (read about it here). NE cheated and was given the largest fine in league history – this is significant and I absolutely don’t know why the NFL would destroy the tapes and sweep the whole issue under the rug. Perhaps they were worried NE would win the Super Bowl and asterisk talk would begin. And, as I mentioned above, I think NE is a dirty team and they get away with a lot because often the dirty stuff is done by respected league veterans (Harrison, Seau, Bruschi – especially Seau).
That said, NE is good and may be one of the best teams of all time. Brady is extraodinarily efficient, Welker may be one of the most difficult players to defend in a long time (nobody can stick with him), and despite my dislike for the way some of the veterans play, they are a savvy group who know positioning really well (and apparently know what they can get away with). Vrabel in particular is a champ – the guy plays hard and is so disruptive on defense that I could see how he could be a major problem for the Giants.
I am rooting for the Giants. I was pissed at the Giants when they beat the Packers because they beat the Packers, not because they were dirty or unfair etc. This is a real team right now, and I’ll say it again, they seem to have come together as a team since Shockey got hurt. I would trade him so fast if I were Giants management. But the real surprise for me has been Eli. As I’ve already admitted, he has proven this critic wrong by his confident play over the last 6 games. I will be a bit surprised if he plays error free in this game though as Belichick will do everything in his power to bring Eli’s loser face back – but even a solid game from Eli may be enough if his playmakers step up (Burress, Bradshaw, Jacobs, Steve Smith, Boss, Ross, Strahan, Tuck, Pierce).
Giants 34 – Patriots 31.