After two weeks of all the hype, of all the talk, and of all the concern and worry of one man's ankle we have finally reached February 5th, 2012, the day of Super Bowl XLVI. Four years ago we were entertained by the same two teams in Super Bowl XLII where the New York Giants handed the then 18-0 New England Patriots an improbable defeat. With the help of the Giant front four putting constant pressure on Tom Brady and an amazing catch by unsung hero David Tyree, Big Blue pulled off the unprecedented upset that shocked the world.
The Giants, led by quarterback Eli Manning, enter with several explosive offensive weapons at their disposal including Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Mario Manningham. On the defensive side the G-Men are led by defensive linemen Osi Umenyora, Justin Tuck, and freak athlete Jason Pierre-Paul. The Giants are proving that it is not about how you perform in the regular season, but how you perform down the stretch. The Giants were a .500 team before rattling off two strong victories over the Jets and Cowboys. Facing the Falcons at home in the Wild-Card Round of the Playoffs, Big Blue held Atlanta to two points and comfortably won 24-2. Next for New York was a trip to the frozen tundra to take on the 15-1 Green Bay Packers. Luckily for the Giants, the Pack had not played in two weeks and their MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers had not played in three weeks after sitting out their season finale against the Lions. Green Bay was rusty throughout the entire game and Rodgers' timing was off significantly.The Giants took advantage of this and outlasted Green Bay 37-20. This took New York to San Francisco to take on the number two seed 49ers in a rematch of week 10's 27-20 Niners victory. In a thrilling game the G Men held on to win on a Lawrence Tynes field goal in overtime, set up by a fumbled punt return by replacement kick returner Kyle Williams.
New England finished the regular season strong as well, on an 8 game winning streak with there last defeat coincidentally coming to the Giants at home in week 9. Tom Brady had a banner season which included him throwing 39 touchdowns and 5235 yards. New England has their own set of offensive weapons that are headlined by wide receiver Wes Welker and their two headed tight end tandem in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Gronkowski was a freak to say the least this year and may have redefined the tight end position all by himself. Gronkowski caught 90 balls for 1327 yards and found the end zone for a record 17 times. The Patriots faced the "heavenly assisted" Broncos in the Divisional Round of the Playoffs and jumped out to an early lead. Tim Tebow and the Broncos just could not match score for score with the Patriots and fell 45-10. The only team standing in their path of Super Bowl XLVI was the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens, two years ago, embarrassed New England in the opening round of the 2010 playoffs beating them at home 33-14. Baltimore, this year, played the Pats tough until the end where the Ravens were in position to send the game in over time. Billy Cundiff went on to shank a 32 yard field goal and send Brady to Indianapolis where he will try to win his fourth championship of his historic career. During the game though, star tight end Rob Gronkowski suffered a high ankle sprain which has put him in a walking boot for majority of the last two weeks. Rob's ankle was one of the most talked about topics in anticipation of the big game, but the Boston Globe reported on February 4th that Gronkowski was spotted walking without a limp and will absolutely play.
This year's game has a completely different feel to it rather than four years ago because of the confidence the Giants possess. Even though Vegas has the Patriots as 2.5 point favorites, the media seems to have given the G-Men the edge. Many sports bettors have the Giants over the Patriots, and most don't see the game being close at all. In my opinion I think this is best case scenario for the Patriots, as for the first time in a while they have slid under the radar and are the underdogs. Gronkowski will be limited, there is no doubt, but I feel he will be healthy enough to make an impact in the game. If Brady is given some time in the pocket and if the Patriots defense is able to contain Victor Cruz from breaking off one of his signature catch and runs I believe New England will come home with the trophy and Brady with ring number four.
New England Patriots(-2.5) 24
New York Giants 20