Patriots vs Giants: With A Vengeance

Solder Brady Super Bowl Giants

Could we see Nate Solder running routes and catching passes for the Patriots on Super Bowl Sunday? (Photo: ICON SMI)

NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed

Two long weeks of waiting and the Super Bowl is finally almost upon us.

There’s a lot to be decided in Saturday’s game.

Will Tom Brady go down as the greatest quarterback in NFL history? Will Bill Belichick go down as the greatest coach in NFL history? Will Eli Manning pass his brother in Super Bowl rings?

Will Tom Coughlin be the Tom Flores of this generation? Will Danny Woodhead return a kick passed the 22 yard line? Will Ochocinco be sitting next to Peyton Manning in the owners’ box? Will Dane Fletcher ever not drop back into coverage when he’s lined up at defensive tackle?

I’m not sure which of the four things I’m about to mention are the most amazing.

1. The Patriots have three players remaining from their first Super Bowl victory ten years ago.

2. One of those players is a running back in an era where players of that position barely last five years.

3. Tom Brady might just now be in his true peak as a player.

4. Matt Light has somehow been underrated and unheralded as the blind side protector for one of the greatest QBs of all time for the entirety of both their careers.

I don’t think I need to tell anyone that us Patriots fans have been unbelievably lucky over the last ten years. Does that mean I don’t want a fourth ring? No way. Three rings only makes me want a fourth that much worse.

When Mike and I were down in Mobile, people kept talking to us about the Patriots and basically how lucky we were. I would only half-jokingly say to them, “Yeah, but we NEED that fourth ring.” It sounds absurd, but it’s something only Patriots fans would understand.

That being said, here are some things I’ll be looking for in Sunday’s game:

PATRIOTS PULLING OUT ALL THE STOPS

I feel like Belichick has been holding out on us a little bit all season, and I’m hoping on Sunday he reveals his full deck.

First, I think the no huddle offense has been underutilized all season.  The Patriots use it in spurts when I feel like they could probably be using it all game if they really wanted to. The Pats are at their best with Woodhead, Gronk, Hernandez, Welker and Branch on the field and Brady constantly keeping the opposing defense off balance with draws, screens and intermediate passes.

Second, I think there are some blitz schemes we haven’t seen since the first couple preseason games. We don’t have all the same personnel anymore with Andre Carter, Myron Pryor, Mike Wright, etc. now out. But I’d like to see some blitzes up the middle with our linebackers on Sunday.

Third, Nate Solder, pass catcher. We’ve waited for it all season, and hey, maybe everyone’s expecting so much at this point that it would be more of a surprise if he doesn’t get a ball thrown his way this game. He was a tight end in high school and the beginning of his college career, so he definitely has the experience and I’ve seen him run some pretty solid routes.

GETTING VOLLMER BACK

That leads well into my next point. If the Patriots have Sebastian Vollmer back on Sunday, that means they get to use Solder exclusively as a tight end. With Rob Gronkowski obviously still ailing from a high ankle sprain, they’ll likely need to give him some rest. Enter Nate Solder, best blocking TE in the league. New England doesn’t even need to take Gronk out only in obvious rushing situations. It would add another element of unpredictability to the offense if Solder can be out running routes.

For the record, I’m expecting almost full health from Gronk on Sunday.

JULIAN EDELMAN

Will Edelman be covering Victor Cruz one on one? Probably not, though you never really know with Belichick. Will Edelman be a key cog in the defense? I think so. Edelman is a valuable nickel back, he brings a level of electricity to the defense and when he, Patrick Chung and Brandon Spikes are all out on the field together, there seems to just be bodies flying all over the place. The Patriots actually lined Edelman up at linebacker a few times this year, I wouldn’t mind seeing a 3-3-Edelman on the field against the Giants.

ATTACK THE GIANTS WEAKNESSES

I covered it the last two days, but the Giants biggest weaknesses are probably their offensive line and their secondary. We could see a very nice game for the Patriots much maligned pass rush. According to Pro Football Focus, the Giants have the 64th and 65th best tackles in the NFL, the 58th and 76th best guards in the NFL and the 29th best center in the NFL all playing on Sunday. Just a reminder to everyone, there are only 32 teams in the league. So that’s uh, bad.

To put the Giants offensive line truly into perspective, the Giants allow pressure whether it’s a sack, QB hit or QB pressure every 14.44 pass drop backs. The Patriots allow pressure ever 26.99 pass dropbacks. The Giants defense generates a pressure every 11.63 times they rush the passer, the Patriots defense generates a pressure every 11.18 times they rush the passer. The Giants rush the passer a lot more than the Patriots do, but the Patriots are still right up there when they are getting after the QB.

As for the Giants secondary, they come out in a big nickel package with three safeties the majority of the time. That would work pretty well against the Patriots tight ends, but Antrel Rolle is currently allowing a 72.9% catch rate. That won’t get it done on Sunday.

WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME?

Everyone keeps bringing up the Giants beating the Patriots earlier this season in Foxboro. So what happened in that game?

-Gostkowski missed a 27 yard field goal in the first quarter.
-A Spikes and Guyton injury forced Tracy White into coverage on the final Jake Ballard touchdown.
-A Chung and Josh Barrett injury forced Sergio Brown onto the field for a key pass interference call in the final drive on Victor Cruz.
-The Giants won the turnover battle.

Other than that, the Patriots played pretty well in that game, especially their defense.

What this game might really come down to, is turnover ratio. I’ve been spouting it all year, but it’s the single most important aspect of this Patriots team. They’ve gotten lucky the last two games winning despite a negative turnover ratio. That all changes this week. They can’t win without winning the turnover battle and in this writer’s opinion, they WON’T lose the turnover battle.

Score prediction: 37-17 Patriots.

Tags: Bill Belichick, Giants, Rob Gronkowski, Super Bowl, Tom Brady, Wes Welker

3 Responses to “Patriots vs Giants: With A Vengeance”

  1. DWE says:

    I’d like to see Big-V Wilfork with a consistent and terrorizing game against the Giants. If we can ” keep Vince Wilfork fresh
    ” throughout the game(not wear him down), we can rattle their cages real good.

    I beleive the Giants will be looking for a specific opening during the later half of the game when Vince may be a little winded, they would be fool’s not to look and wait for it for sure………He’ll need the help of the rest of the defence to make a consistent game plan happen, but if they follow his lead and mazke sure that “THEY” meaning the rest of our defense tighten up what Vince Himself can’t take care of, along with Belichick & the coaching staff keep consistent pressure and contain the amount of weapons that Eli has with BiG Vince Wilfork specifically eating up the NYC Lineman all day, then I think the rest of the “D” can follow behind. I think we can win by 10 Points in the end, but it’ll take consistency on “OUR” D in order to do it.

    All this talk of Gronk, or if not Gronk then A-Hern ripping them a few new ars-holes during the game unexpectedly(which is what I’d like to see as well…) if they are paying too much attention to Gronk or Welker. All this talk about Brady having /needing a great game, Brady and Belichick adjusting to what they see, and the rest is fine and good football fodder.
    But it will be the rest of “OUR” D that need’s to keep the Giants from scoring TD’s without PENALTIES. NO giving ELI and Crew stuff on a silver platter. Make em earn it, and keep em settled to a few field goals while we score at least 2 TD’s and a field goal by the half.

    Dinks & Dunks won’t work through out the game, but it’ll set up good mid-rang type passes to A-Hern and Welker, maybe even Ocho if he’s put in a few times early on both run plays, and quick passes meant for others.Throw the G-men off with OCHO. He could actually be looked at for a cpl mid-range sideline passes……..?
    I’d personally call on OCHO for a quick shovel pass up the middle and let him take it for a quick 3 or 4 yard run for a first down. Brady needs to open things up and move the ball with guy’s who are not named WELKER, GRONK,A-HERN or BRANCH.
    Show very early that anyone could be a weapon, and then tear their hearts out with the open guy.

    *SHOW NO MERCY. 17- 9 Patriots at the half. 31- 19 FINAL.

  2. Something I haven’t mentioned one time this week is that in the first matchup with the New York Giants (in which the Giants scored 24 points) the Giants played without Hakeem Nicks AND Ahmad Bradshaw (and their starting center, but he’s not that great anyway so doesn’t matter).

    I’d be stunned if the Patriots win by two touchdowns,

    The other thing that a out the hurry up is that if the Patriots use the hurry up and end up going 3-0 that gives the Giants more possessions and quicker time to get in rhythm. Hurry up can be deadly, but there is a downside to it, especially playing against a good offense

    I think it’ll be a close game and even as a Giants fan I’m very concerned about this game, but I’d be absolutely stunned if the Giants get blown out

  3. Adam says:

    37-17? That is bold. My prediction is basically the same as most of the talking heads which I usually try to avoid if I can help it. In this case though, I can’t talk my way out of it. Another field goal game. Pats 23 Giants 20.

    As for your question of whether Danny Woodhead will return a kick past the 22? Don’t be crazy. Of course he won’t. And after the Ravens game I get to worry that he will fumble too.



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