Super Bowl XXXVI
As a Patriots fan, I find myself more terrified of losing than I am excited about winning, but that might have more to do with the fact that I go to a school where about a third of the campus will be wearing Eli Manning jerseys on Monday if the G-men hoist the trophy. I have nightmares of Eli running through the confetti screaming, “I’m going to Disney World!” with that goofy smile. But enough about me, I think the rest of Patriots nation is cautiously optimistic about the rematch.
There’s been about 1028375940 articles on the Superbowl these past two weeks. It feels like I’ve read most of them. What I’m finding is that with every new one, the author tries to make bolder and bolder predictions, you got to one-up the last guy, right?
But the truth is, no one knows exactly what’s going to happen on Sunday. That’s because 1) No one’s ever been able to predict any football game with certainty even if their supremely confident (ask vegas), 2) You don’t get to the Superbowl being a predictable football team, 3) These are two of the top game planning coaches in the history of football and they’ve had two weeks to outsmart each other.
But here’s two things we do know about this game:
1. Tom Brady is going to be rushed by the best defensive line in the game (sorry, Broncos). How he deals with the inevitable pressure he’s going to face is going to dictate whether or not the Patriots offense can be the Patriots offense we’ve seen this season. Establish the passing game with some quick completions, then catch some nickel linemen off guard by giving Green Ellis inside touches, keep the ball out of Eli Manning’s hands. That last parts important because…
2. Eli Manning is going to have a good game. The Patriots secondary has spent the post season exceeding expectations. But did we really expect Joe Flacco and Tim Tebow to carve up ANY secondary? Eli Manning has spent the post season doing just that. Dominating through the air and stringing together one of the best playoff stretches any quarterbacks ever had. I can’t find anyone who thinks he’s throwing for under 300 yards.
So I think this game is coming down to the quarterback play. Expect very few turnovers from these disciplined teams. If Brady can have a better game than Eli against a better pass rush and a better secondary, the Patriots should win this game.
So we don’t know much. But we can identify the strengths and weaknesses of the teams. That doesn’t mean we know the outcome. There is one other thing we know about Sunday, it’s going to be a great game.