NEPD Editor: James Christensen
In the battle of Thermopylae, made famous by the movie “300″, the Persian King Xerxes trotted out a seemingly never-ending procession of exotic warriors.
Perry Fewell, defensive coordinator for the Giants, has a similar array of weapons aimed at disrupting the Patriots passing attack.
The Patriots offensive line, just like the Spartan heroes on the silver screen, will need to hold out for as long as they can. Fortunately for New England, their blockers will need to be vigilant for only around three seconds, as opposed to three days.
Led by their very own King Leonidas, offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, the men charged with blocking the invading Giants have a seemingly momentous task at their hands.
Jason Pierre-Paul (17 sacks) and Osi Umenyiora (12.5 sacks) are the top performers for the Giants, but Justin Tuck, Linval Joseph, Chris Canty, and Dave Tollefson have been solid contributors as well.
Although the Giants defensive line strikes fear into the heart of many quarterbacks and offensive coordinators, the Giants defense as a whole has been mediocre at best.
Despite their recent hot streak, the Giants and Patriots each allowed an 86.1 passer rating during the regular season.
The key for the Patriots will be to keep those front four blocked at all costs. That said, the offensive collective of Bill O’Brien and Josh McDaniels will have their work cut out for them in pulling that off.
The diminutive Patriots running back Danny Woodhead has been used multiple times this year as help for Matt Light and Nate Solder against difficult pass-rushers – think Demarcus Ware. If Light or Solder have their man securely blocked, Woodhead becomes an outlet for Tom Brady should nobody be open down-field.
ATTACKING THE GIANTS
If Sebastian Vollmer is able to contribute, after missing multiple games with a back ailment, a 3 TE / 2 WR set featuring Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and Nate Solder as the inline blocker could be a devastating force.
If the Giants go to their nickel defense, the Patriots can motion Hernandez into the backfield and run the ball. The TE/RB combination has been extremely lethal, leaving defenses unable to ascertain what sort of personnel grouping is truly on the field.
If the Giants keep their base defense in, Brady has weapons on the field to attack with and six offensive linemen to protect him.
Expect to see the Patriots offense go into the hurry-up if they can catch the Giants defense in the personnel group that they want.
RED ZONE FOR GLORY
The Patriots nearly missed out on the opportunity to play for the Lombardi trophy due to some poor red-zone offense.
Scoring touchdowns instead of field goals will go a long way to bringing home a fourth silver football to New England.
I’ll leave you with my bold statement for the game. Out of the TE / 2 WR set that we spoke of earlier, Nate Solder is going to get on the board with his fist NFL catch and touchdown.
Final Prediction: The Giants offense turns one-dimensional after the Patriots run away with scores sandwiching the inevitably dismal Madonna performance. An incredibly homer-riffic 45-17 is my final score.