NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
If you’ve watched the National coverage of the Super Bowl this week it seems futile to even play the game. All we’ve heard this week is “the Patriots have no shot, the Giants pass rush is too good, Eli Manning is now the best QB in football, the Giants are the hot team.”
Fortunately for Patriot fans the game will be played on Sunday night and the Patriots actually do have a chance to win the game. Here are 10 reasons why the Patriots will actually win Super Bowl 46 on Sunday night.
10. The Patriots Linebackers
It took almost the entire season but the Patriots finally have a healthy complement of Linebackers and it has made a difference. Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Rob Ninkovich and Mark Anderson are playing their best football at the right time.
Spikes and Mayo especially complement each other perfectly. Spikes plays a violent, attacking style of football. He eats up blockers which allows Jerod Mayo to make a lot more plays.
When Spikes was out it appeared Mayo was trying to do too much as he was trying to pick up the slack for his other linebackers such as Gary Guyton, Dane Fletcher, Tracy White and even Jeff Tarpinian. Now he is back at his natural position 3-4 MLB and back to his All-Pro form.
On the outside, Rob Ninkovich and Mark Anderson are rushing the passer at a more successful rate. Ninkovich especially has really stepped his game up and learned to refine some pass rush moves. Ninkovich and Anderson getting pressure against the Giants very vulnerable tackles could result in multiple pressures and sacks of Eli Manning.
9. Sterling Moore
Who would have thought Sterling Moore could end up being the key to the Patriots season? He saved the Patriots’ behind in the AFC Championship game and will likely have a big time impact in the Super Bowl.
Moore has given Coach Belichick another CB he trusts out there. He can actually play man to man as good, if not better, than almost any of the DBs and plays with a confidence about him.
He has allowed Belichick to move people around the secondary, including Devin McCourty, who has seen a lot of snaps at free safety in nickel situations. Moore did not play in Week 9. Instead, Phillip Adams, Sergio Brown and Josh Barrett were playing against the Giants in crunch time. Moore doesn’t have to be perfect but he has a nose for the ball and should make a big difference on Sunday.
8. Danny Woodhead
Danny Woodhead is someone who has literally not been talked about at all heading into the Super Bowl. With the Giants likely to be rushing hard up field, running and screening lanes should be open. Woodhead is a very explosive player in space and if the Patriots can hit on a couple screens and draws to Woodhead it will go a long way to slowing down the Giants pass rush.
Woodhead is also a major factor in the two minute offense and with the Patriots likely to be in no huddle a lot Woodhead could have a big game.
7. The Patriots Running Game
If the Giants are going to follow their blue print from week 9 and rush with 4 and drop 7 into coverage then the Patriots running game will be the X-Factor. Once the Patriots started running the ball with BJGE in the AFC Championship game it started loosening things up down field for Brady.
I think it is imperative that the Patriots get creative in their play calling. As Phil Simms has pointed out all year, whenever Brady is under center with a single back they usually run the ball. I have a feeling they could catch the Giants a few times if they vary the formations from which they run the ball. If the Patriots have success running the ball early, I think it will be a long day for the Giants.
6. Addition by Subtraction
Week 9 seems like a lifetime ago and in terms of a football season it was. We have heard all week about how the Giants didn’t have Nicks and Bradshaw, so they will be that much better in the Super Bowl.
That said, the Patriots have a large number of players who played that day that won’t even sniff the field on Sunday. Among them Gary Guyton, who couldn’t cover the slowest tight end in the league despite running a 4.4 forty. Sergio Brown (god-willing) will not see meaningful snaps on defense Sunday. Brown’s pass interference call on the last drive set the Giants up inside the 5 yard line, basically sealing the Patriots fate. Phillip Adams, who actually played decently will not be on the field Sunday. Both Patrick Chung and Brandon Spikes were lost in the 3rd quarter and the defense was unable to recover in the week 9 game.
The biggest “addition by subtraction” factor may be that Albert Haynesworth will be nowhere near a football field Sunday. The turning point of the Week 9 match-up was right after a Tom Brady fumble on the Patriots own 10 yard line, the Giants ran Brandon Jacobs right up the middle into the teeth of the Pats defense. Instead of putting up a fight and trying to make a play, Albert Haynesworth absolutely quit on the play, opening up a huge hole and allowing Brandon Jacobs to score a huge, momentum changing TD for the Giants. Those players not being on the field is a HUGE plus for the Patriots.