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Both quarterbacks can reach milestones in Super Bowl XLVI.
Tom Brady can tie Joe Montana with four Super Bowl wins, while Eli can one-up his brother by winning his second.
Representing the AFC are the New England Patriots, the team of the decade. Like most seasons, Tom Brady is on top of his game, and can't be stopped. The Patriots finished first in the AFC East and earned a first round bye. After defeating the Broncos with ease and the Ravens in a nail-biter, they will finally have a chance at revenge, by playing the New York Giants.
The Giants have had a roller-coaster season, unlike any Super Bowl team. If it weren't for an overthrown Tony Romo pass on third down, eight weeks ago, the Giants wouldn't have made the playoffs and Tom Coughlin would be unemployed. Ever since their loss to the Redskins, the Giants have won five straight "must win" games, and now find themselves in the biggest football game in the world.
So who do I think will win this game?
The New York Giants. 33-26
This pick is half from the heart, and half from the brain. It's impossible to root against your team any week of the season, but at least there are reasons to why they will win. Both teams are so similar: great passing games, poor running games, poor secondary, great pass rush. It will simply come down to which team takes advantage of the other team's weaknesses, and can protect their quarterback better.
The Giants are probably the only team in the NFL that has had the Patriots number the the past few years. They just know their weaknesses, and exploit them. As I say in almost every New York Giants prediction, they do two things extremely well. The two Giants strengths happen to be the two worst things for the Patriots. They get to the opposing quarterback better than anyone in the league, and they throw the ball better than most of the teams. Tom Brady is clearly an elite quarterback in the NFL, heck, he can go down as the greatest quarterback of all time, but having defensive ends chase you all night is not a simple task. A defense that can rush Tom Brady, and an offense that can turn the Patriots' defense into swiss cheese are two great skill-sets.
With Gronkowski playing injured, who knows how good he'll be. If the Giants can hold Gronk to five catches and just one touchdown, that's better than most teams. Brady won't have time to sit in the pocket all day, so he needs to get the ball out of his hand as quickly as possible.
As for the Giants offense, their running game might be trash, but their passing game can match the Patriots' passing game. If Eli can throw for 350 and two/three touchdowns, they will be in great shape to win this game. Even though that might seem like a lot, when you throw the ball 50 times a game, especially against a terrible defense it's not that hard, especially for an ELIte quarterback (had to throw that in somewhere).
The three headed attack of Nicks/Cruz/Manningham is just as lethal as the Welker/Hernandez/Gronk attack. Manning has been so accurate this season it's scary, and when you add Victor Cruz' route running skills, and Nicks' amazing hands, it's even scarier. The Patriots defense will really need to step up if they want to win this game. It's not going to be a defense oriented game, but the game will come down to who gets the final stop. Also, a huge key in this game will be 3rd down conversions. Last week the Giants had a great 3rd down conversion %, but held the Niners to only one 1st down. It's a game changer.
The Patriots have a lot to play for, and I respect that. Their owner, Rober Kraft, lost his wife, Myra, just before the season started. They have worn a MHK label on their jersey every game this year, and are dedicating this season to her. She was a kind, generous person, who had personal relationships with many players on the team. Clearly the Patriots won't lose this one without a fight.
In the end though, I still think my Giants will come out on top. They too are playing with heart, hunger, and determination. When it comes down to the end, the Giants defense is more likely to stop Tom Brady on a two-minute drive, than the Patriots shutting down Eli Manning on a two-minute drive.