Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Some Super Thoughts

The Super Bowl is annually the most over-hyped, over-analyzed sporting event. According to some commercial that ran all football season (I think Visa), it's the most epic day of the year, and while I don't really know what that means, I guess I agree. Since there's only so much you say about a game that hasn't happened yet, the talking heads at ESPN invariably start discussing nonsense. One of the main stories on ESPN yesterday was about the experience of watching game film with Bill Belichick and we're still a week away from the game. I'm sure we'll hear about where the players go to eat in Indianapolis, and invariably some player who's playing for some child with terminal illness. Also, does anyone know which city's mayors bet dinner on this game? I would guess Boston and New York, but the Patriots nominally represent New England and the Giants play in New Jersey, so I'm really not sure. I am sure that I'll find out, whether I want to or not. And I can't wait for the daily uninformed speculation about Rob Gronkowski's ankle. What I'm saying is every damn angle gets beaten into the ground, and you know what? I concede. I will not come up with an original angle because it's pretty much impossible.

So I'm not going to try. Instead, here presented for your reading pleasure is the first a collection Super Bowl storylines and my take on them.

First, I'll tackle the general outline of each team. Tomorrow, I'll delve into questions of legacy, and Thursday the questions about era that this game brings up. I'm going to do my best to stay away from the more superfluous Super Bowl storylines, but that may prove impossible.
    Giants: The Giants might suck. They were outscored throughout the course of the season, and while they've been hot in the postseason, they also got blown out in week 15 by the Rex Grossman and the Redskins. They have two great wide receivers in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz and a good (not great) quarterback in Eli Manning. Their front four on defense is great, as goes their ability to get pressure rushing four so goes the rest of the defense because they are not particularly great in coverage. Basically, the Giants do two things really well: create big plays in the passing game and pressure the quarterback. That's about it.

    Patriots: The Patriots, on paper, are a much better team. Their defense is much maligned, but the Patriots gave up 58 less points during the season than the Giants, so the weak link looks to be the Giants. The Pats also scored 199 more than the Giants. They have one of the all-time greats at QB, a great receiving corps (and their tight ends have vastly outgained any other tight ends in the history of football), and a distinct advantage in the coaching staff. The Patriots had a habit of letting bad teams get early leads on them this year, but almost every time roared back to dominate the game. They also, in a Patriots tradition, employ wide receivers in the secondary, and while they gave up a ton of yards, they were fairly stingy with points.

    I would give the Patriots the advantage in every facet of the offensive game. Neither team can run, but the Patriots have a better short passing game and run a little bit better. Manning is good, but Brady is better. Gronkowski's health is important, but even with just Welker, Branch, and Hernandez the Patriots' receiving corps is at least the equal of the Giants'. Neither team is great defensively, and the Giants have a huge edge in getting pressure (which was the key in 2007 as well). But again, the Patriots gave up almost 4 less points per game. It's hard to believe their defense is actually worse, yards be damned. Additionally, the Patriots have a phenomenal short passing game, hitting slot receivers and tight ends on quick routes, and that should negate the Giants' pressure to some extent.

    The Giants did beat the Patriots earlier this year, and yes they seem to have the blueprint for beating them - get pressure on Brady so he can't get into a comfort zone and hold the ball for a long time so Brady stays off the field - but I just can't see the Giants beating the Patriots twice in one season. The public doesn't agree with me. The Patriots are only 3-point favorites for this game.

    One of the reasons many have for choosing the Giants is that they are the so-called "hot team." I just don't get that. They've played well during the playoffs but THEY GOT BLOWN OUT BY THE FUCKING REDSKINS BARELY MORE THAN A MONTH AGO. The Patriots put up some bad halves around the same time, but they at least turned it around and won. By weighted DVOA, which rates teams according to their season-long performance but gives weight to more recent games, the Patriots finished the season ranked 4th. The Giants were 16th. Maybe something changed in the playoffs, but I don't know what it is.

    Granted, we're just talking about one game, and the 2007 Super Bowl clearly showed that one game is variable. The Giants were definitely not better than the Patriots that year (and maybe not even that day), but they won. This year, I expect the Patriots to return the favor.

    No comments:

    Post a Comment