By Balraj Dhillon (Contributor) – Email

Print Edition: February 1, 2012

Three storylines will dominate the week before the Super Bowl during media days for coaches and players; the 18-1 season, revenge, and David Tyree’s freak catch. All three headlines refer to Super Bowl 42 in 2007 in which the wild card New York Giants defeated the perfect New England Patriots on a game-winning touchdown. The touchdown to end the game was set up by a miracle catch by Giants receiver David Tyree in which he jumped up for the ball and fell back to the ground pressing the ball against his helmet as Patriots defenders attempted to strip the ball away.

The Patriots and Giants meet once again at Super Bowl XLVI in similar fashion to that of 2007; the Patriots are the number one seed and the Giants made it to the big game despite being a wild card. However, in 2007 the Patriots defeated the Giants in the regular season. This past season the Giants defeated the Patriots on a game-winning touchdown. Despite both teams changing drastically over the past four seasons, and David Tyree no longer being in the NFL, players and coaches have already begun receiving questions regarding their last Super Bowl meeting.

From a general perspective, the Super Bowl features an offence versus defence match up. The Patriots were lead by Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and the rest of the offensive line en route to being the number one seed in the AFC as their defence gave up the most yards in the league. Tom Brady threw for 5234 yards and 29 touchdowns and Rob Gronkowski shattered the receiving yards and touchdowns record by a tight end as he had 1327 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. On the other side, the Giants defensive line and aggressive defensive backs stole the thunder away from Eli Manning and the offence as the season wound down. Despite throwing for nearly 5000 yards and 29 touchdowns, along with 16 interceptions, the emergence of a healthy defensive line late in the season has been accredited with the Giants playoff berth.

Pressuring the quarterback is what will decide who wins this game. If the Patriots offensive line, which features three pro-bowl players, can handle the Giants defensive line, Tom Brady will be able to sit back in the pocket and dissect the Giants secondary. However, if the Giants can get pressure on Brady he’ll be forced to evacuate the pocket and check down to throwing screens and short throws. If the Patriots defensive pass rush, lead by Rob Ninkovich who has emerged as a force to be reckoned with this post season, can pressure Eli Manning it will give the Patriots defensive backs—who have struggled all year but are fully healthy for the first time all season—an easier time dealing with Giants superstar receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Both teams are able to run the ball on offence and stop the run on defence, so the outcome falls on the passing game.

Turnovers will also play a big part in the Super Bowl. Both offensive lines feature enough weapons to score at will, and one turnover that gives the opposing offence one extra series could decide the outcome. Brady is coming off one of his worst post-season games ever, in which he didn’t throw for a single touchdown but did leap from the one-yard line to score the go-ahead touchdown. However, it’s very rare for Tom Terrific to have two bad games in a row and following the AFC Championship game he promised Patriots owner Robert Kraft, “I will be better in two weeks.” On the Giants side, Eli Manning is coming off a game in which he threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns.

In order for the Patriots to win, the secondary will have to shut down Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz on the outside while not taking any risks on fourth downs if they are in field goal territory; the extra three or six points off of field goals will be important as the game winds down in the fourth quarter. In order for the Giants to win, it’s simple: get pressure on Brady. If Brady is given time to stand back in the pocket, the speed of the Patriots receivers will burn the Giants secondary. Even if Brady has to check down to his tight ends, he’ll be throwing to two of the best in the NFL in Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, both who have proven they can take a five-yard pass and turn it into a 30-yard gain.

Dhillon’s prediction: The Patriots get rid of demons from ’07 once and for all as they avenge their loss in Super Bowl 42 by winning Super Bowl 46 by a score of 31-24.

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