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Sportsbook.com’s coverage of Super Bowl XLII continues with our in-depth analysis of the offensive and defensive matchups.
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When the Patriots run the ball
The Patriots running game has been overshadowed by the passing attack all season. Earlier in the year, it was Sammy Morris who led the way with Laurence Maroney banged up. In fact, Maroney only had one 100-yard game in the first 13 games of the season.
Since Week 15, it’s been a different story. Maroney has broken the 100-yard mark four out of the last five games, including both playoff wins. If the Giants focus on stopping the run, they should be able to do a pretty good job, but if they stay in a “nickel” defense most of the time, New England will run the ball effectively.
When the Patriots pass the ball
Quarterback Tom Brady has been battling a sore ankle and it has easily been the biggest story of the Super Bowl buildup. The goods news for New England is that the sprain is considered mild and there is no way he pulls a LaDainian Tomlinson and sits out this game.
Everyone knows that Brady threw 50 touchdown passes in the regular season, but the offense has slowed down some recently with the cold weather. Wide receiver, Randy Moss has been particularly quiet in the playoffs as he has been constantly double covered. However, with the weather not being a factor, and a suspect Giants’ secondary, expect the passing offense to get back on track.
Edge: New England
When the Giants run the ball
The Giants will try to play conservative using running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw to chew up yards and time on the clock. Jacobs is the starting back and the “thunder” to Bradshaw’s “lightning”. In their three playoff games, Jacobs has averaged 52 yards per game on 16 carries, while Bradshaw has averaged 54 yards on 13 carries
Jacobs had 67 yards on 15 carries against New England in their first match-up. Bradshaw was not able to play due to injury. The theory here is that Bradshaw will have more success against the slower Patriots linebackers, and he could even break a long run or two.
When the Giants pass the ball
It has been a magical ride into the Super Bowl for the Giants and quarterback Eli Manning. During the regular season, Manning threw 20 interceptions including one in the game against New England. In his three playoff games though, Manning has been very steady with no picks versus four touchdown throws.
If the Giants have any hope of winning this game, wide receiver Plaxico Burress must have a huge day. He had 11 receptions in the NFC Championship game against Green Bay and he will be the top target again. While Manning has played excellent in the postseason, you don’t want to have to win this game on his arm, as there’s a good chance he will fall short.
Edge: New England
Both teams have some playmakers on both kickoff and punt returns, and each do a good job on special teams coverage. There is not supreme confidence in either kicker, although you have to admire the Giants’ Lawrence Tynes for making the game-winner last week in Green Bay after missing his two previous attempts.
Both Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin are from the Bill Parcells “coaching tree”, but Belichick is a three-time champ with New England, while this is Coughlin’s first trip to the Super Bowl as a head coach. While Coughlin is not the type to be intimidated in this situation, you have to give the edge to experience.
Edge: New England
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