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Adventures of the misguided prognosticator: Taking the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI
This is the 34th Super Bowl of my lifetime. In the previous 33, I probably have a 10-23 record (I'm guessing, so I could be wrong, as usual) in predicting the winner. I'd bet I had more luck as a baby if my parents asked me who'd win and I babbled like Bamm-Bamm Rubble from "The Flintstones."
But I continue to throw a prediction out there because, well, that's what people do before the Super Bowl. This year, I'm picking the New England Patriots. And that's quite interesting because, for most of the past two weeks, I've been high on the New York Giants. I even hyped the Giants during a radio interview early in the week. So if I'm wrong, it'll be because I didn't trust my instincts and thought about it too much.
Why New England?
I think the Giants are better overall right now, with quarterback Eli Manning playing some of the best football of his career and with the Giants' front four rushing the passer so well. But I'm having a hard time ignoring how average the Giants were for most of the season. I'm having a hard time ignoring what the Seahawks did to them back in October, too, with the kind of quick-passing game and hurry-up offense that the Patriots like to use.
I know teams evolve, and the Giants certainly have. I know the G-Men are more explosive, with Victor Cruz Jr. and Hakeem Nicks serving as dangerous big-play wide receivers. I know they beat a better Patriots team in the Super Bowl four years ago. And I know the Giants run the football more consistently than New England. That's why I initially thought New York would win. Well, that and the fact that Bill Belichick is so difficult to root for that I have trouble picking him to win because that means I'm technically rooting to be right -- and therefore, hoping Belichick does well. Which makes me feel dirty.
But something tells me that the Patriots have something special left in them. I'm a big believer in greatness and the story arc of greatness. And this game represents an opportunity for Tom Brady to vault himself from greatest quarterback of this era to greatest quarterback of all time in the eyes of many.
To win a Super Bowl rematch against the Giants in Indianapolis -- home (at least for now) of Eli Manning's brother, Peyton, the other transcendent QB of this era -- would be a remarkable achievement for Brady. This is the first matchup of former Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks in league history. This is Brady's chance to remind the world of his greatness. For that matter, this is Belichick's chance, too.
And this could be the last chance for the Brady-Belichick combo to win a Super Bowl. The quarterback and head coach have won three together, all three-point victories, in the past 10 years. And they lost Super Bowl XLII to the Giants by three points four years ago.
A lot has been made recently of Brady's postseason record. He's 16-5 all-time, which is tied with Joe Montana (who had a 16-7 mark) for the most victories in league history. Brady also has the highest winning percentage (.762) of any quarterback with at least 10 postseason victories.
But in this what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world, some media types have split that 16-5 record in half. Brady won his first 10 postseason games, and he is 6-5 since then. They try to use that as evidence that, while Brady is a certain Hall of Famer, the quarterback is currently human and needs to prove himself once again. It's a fair thing to consider, but I have a hard time buying that considering Brady threw for 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns this season. And he tied an NFL playoff record with six touchdown passes against Denver last month.
No doubt, this will be one of Brady's greatest challenges. With tight end Rob Gronkowski ailing, and without the big-play threats that the Giants have, the quarterback will have to be incredible to win. The Patriots have played good defense in the playoffs, but because they allowed a whopping 411.1 yards per game in the regular season, they now have the title of worst defense in Super Bowl history.
Can the Patriots stop the Giants? If not, can Brady direct his offense to outscore theirs?
I know Brady can. And I think he will.
Give me the Patriots in an Alamo Bowl-like score, at least by pro standards.
New England 35, New York 31.
And if I'm wrong, well, I'll revise an old Charles Barkley comment and make this declaration.
I may be right. But I doubt it.