February 3, 2012

The big pick for the big game

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

It’s the finale of the football season. It’s the biggest game in the world – well, maybe just North America, but you get the point. It’s the Super Bowl.

This year’s game is a rematch of a classic from just four years ago, when – I’m sure you’ve heard by now – the New York Giants ended the New England Patriots’ perfect season. It’s really a shame that this game will be compared to that Super Bowl, since we have a potential classic brewing that can easily stand on its own in the annals of time.

On one side, we have Tom Brady. Everybody’s favourite pretty-boy quarterback who is looking to win his fourth Super Bowl and tie Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw’s record. He can also break Montana’s record for playoff wins by claiming victory on Sunday.

His Patriots squad features Rob Gronkowski, a tight end that set just about every receiving record at his position this season, including leading the league in touchdowns. On his worst days, he’s still a matchup nightmare. The only break that the Giants get by facing him now is that he’ll be slightly hobbled by a high ankle sprain suffered in the Conference Championship game.

Don’t forget about Wes Welker either. He has been one of the most consistent targets as a receiver in the entire league since coming to New England and is threat to get a first down on any play.

On the other side of the ball, there’s Eli Manning. He’s trying desperately to step out of his big brother’s shadow and now he gets a chance to win his second Super Bowl while playing in Peyton’s (soon to be former) home stadium.

He has two amazing playmakers at receiver in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. Both have shown in recent weeks that they can turn any catch – even a simple seven-yard slant – into a massive gain. These guys routinely take poor-tackling secondaries to school.

The G-Men’s running game should not be overlooked either, with Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs aptly carrying the ball recently. If they can establish the ground game, the Pats could be in trouble.

Both of these offences can shred opponents, and that’s why this game’s decisive factor should come from the defensive side of the ball.

It has been well documented how dominant the Giants’ pass rush can be and how that allows them to create pressure while only rushing four. That, of course, allows them to drop more players into coverage and frustrate opposing receivers. But is it a guarantee that they can do so against an offensive line as strong as the Pats and a quarterback as smart and quick as Brady? I’m not so sure.

When the Patriots are on defence, well, let’s put it this way: If New England wins, they will boast the worst defence to ever win a Super Bowl – by a large margin.

Even so, they have looked good so far in the playoffs and they’re getting key contributions from guys like Julian Edelman (a wide receiver) and Sterling Moore (cut from the Raiders’ practice squad).

Also, it can’t be discounted that Bill Belichick is one of the most brilliant minds in football, leaps and bounds ahead of the league – including Tom Coughlin.

So how do you pick against one of those two teams? Well, in a couple of now-famous words “Nobody believes in us.” Ever since betting began on this game, everybody has been pounding the Giants, almost immediately lowering the line from 3.5. It even dipped to 2.5 on some boards. So why no love for a team that has only lost three games all season? It’s because the Giants are the hot, chic team. Well, after two weeks to sit down and think about it, the pressure should be on New York.

A Patriots win here would be the picture perfect end to their story: They redeem themselves for the “18-and-none” season, they do so in the city of another recent heartbreak, they crush their rival’s little brother and all after Tom Brady gets dressed sitting at Peyton Manning’s locker.

It’s not quite a Tim Tebow-level miracle script, but it’s damn good and I’m willing to follow it.

The pick: New England -3
The score: Patriots 24, Giants 20
The playoffs: 5-5
Regular season: 131-120-2


  1. Patriots 31 – Giants 20

  2. Your right on! Pats will win by a TD+!!!! Gronk will play today.

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