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My Official Super Bowl pregame analysis

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  1. ivanvamp

    ivanvamp In the Starting Line-Up

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    For the past couple of weeks I've delved into various aspects of the upcoming game so I won't simply repeat everything I've said in those threads. Here, then, is my official SB pregame analysis and thoughts.

    When the Patriots have the ball:

    The Patriots' running game vs. the Giants' run defense
    The Patriots' running game is underrated. They can hit the Giants with different weapons: the sledgehammer (BJGE), the jitterbug (Woodhead), the steady veteran (Faulk), or the explosive rookie (Ridley). During the season, they ranked #20 in the NFL in rushing at 110.3 ypg and averaged 4.0 ypc. During the postseason, they have averaged 4.0 ypc and 121.0 ypg, facing the #22 and #2 ranked rush defenses.

    The Giants' D, meanwhile, is overrated against the running game. They ranked #19 against the run during the season, allowing 121.3 ypg at a whopping 4.5 yards per carry. During the postseason, the perception is that they've been better against the run, but the reality is a little different. They've allowed 120.3 yds per game and 5.0 yds per carry. Granted, some of that has been good runs by opposing QBs, so they're doing better against traditional rushing attacks, and the Patriots won't be running Tom Brady tomorrow. QBs have run, in the postseason, for 111 yds on 16 carries (6.9 ypc), meaning that the Giants have allowed "traditional" running plays to gain 250 yds on 56 carries, which comes to 4.5 ypc. And that was against the #9, the #17, and #27 ranked rush offenses.

    I expect NY to play a lot of nickel. I think NE comes out in their big set and if NY goes regular D, the Pats will find some passing lanes. If NY comes out in a nickel - or whenever NY substitutes into a nickel - the Pats will go hurry up and hammer away with their two TE against a very small lineup. When the Giants go with their "NASCAR" look of 4 DEs (Tuck, JPP, Umeniyora, and Kiwanuka), their average weight will be 267 lbs. The Pats' OL will outweigh them by about 50 pounds per man on average. I see NE running the ball a lot, if for no other reason than to try to establish a rhythm and to blunt NY's pass rush early.

    EDGE: New England

    The Patriots' passing game vs. the Giants' pass defense
    Right off the top, I have to say that the Patriots' passing offense vs. *ANY* passing defense is an edge to New England. They simply have one of the most prolific pass offenses in history, and it's been that way since 2007. No team has found a way to really stop NE. Oh, it's happened from time to time in individual games, but nobody has the personnel or scheme to consistently shut NE's passing offense down. Even in the first Giants' game this season, the Pats had 342 yards passing. This is not to say that Brady is incapable of having a bad game or that the Giants can't get turnovers off him. Both of those are distinctly possible in a one-game scenario. But on the whole, the Patriots' pass offense against ANYBODY is an advantage for New England.

    I am going to assume that Gronk is operating at 75%. He won't be fully Gronk, but he won't be useless either. I think they will have to pick their spots with him - God, please don't let them waste downs using him on special teams - but he will still be a handful for NY.

    Hernandez is a player NY has no matchup for. Everyone has talked about the two TEs, and it's for real. No team yet in the NFL has found a way to stop both of them. They might slow down one of them, but not both. They give NE so much flexibility, and when NE goes no-huddle they're almost impossible to stop.

    One guy that everyone seems to forget amidst all the Giant WR ballwashing is only the guy who finished the season #1 in the league in receptions: Wes Welker. In their last SB, Welker had 11 rec for 103 yds, and in their first matchup this season, he had 9 rec for 136 yds. And, just for good measure, in the 2007 regular season matchup, Welker had 11 rec for 122 yds.

    So in 3 games as a Patriot vs. the Giants, Welker has done this:

    11-122
    11-103
    9-136
    AVG: 10.3 rec for 120.3 yds

    I mean, whatever else someone may say about this matchup, one thing is clear: the Giants have not found a way to even come close to slowing down Wes Welker. I expect him to have a big day.

    And then there is Deion Branch. He's not what he used to be. But he showed in the AFCCG that he can still get deep at times. He's a Super Bowl stud and a big-game player. If the Giants focus everywhere else, I expect Branch to have a really good game.

    The key, of course, will be controlling the Giants' pass rush. The Giants have a good rush, finishing tied for 3rd in the NFL with 48 sacks. But more than just the sacks, they just get a lot of pressure on opposing QBs.

    But it is overstated how much pressure the Giants have put on during the playoffs. In their three games (which included an OT period), they totaled 9 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, and 18 QB hits. That's essentially an average of 3 sacks, 5 TFL, and 6 QB hits per game. Those numbers are no different than they were during the regular season (48 sacks / 16 games = 3 sacks per game).

    Meanwhile, the Pats' OL has done very well, especially during the playoffs, where they have stepped up their game against top-notch pass rushing defenses. Here's what they have allowed:

    vs Den (#10 in the NFL in sacks): 0 sacks, 1 TFL, 2 QB hits
    vs Bal (#3 in the NFL in sacks): 1 sack, 2 TFL, 3 QB hits

    So during the playoffs, against excellent pressure defenses, the Pats have been almost perfect in pass protection. In their regular season matchup this year, the Giants had 2 sacks, 2 TFL, and 3 QB hits. I do not expect much more than that in the Super Bowl.

    EDGE: New England


    When the Giants have the ball

    The Giants' running game vs. the Patriots' run defense
    The Giants had one of the worst rushing attacks in all of football this year. They finished 32nd in the league averaging 89.2 yds per game and a measly 3.5 ypc. It has gotten better in the playoffs, however, as they've averaged 117.3 yds per game on 84 carries, rushing at a 4.2 ypc clip. That's good, solid work.

    What about the Pats' run defense? They were #17 during the season, allowing 117.1 yds per game at a rate of 4.6 ypc. That rate isn't good. During the playoffs, against two of the best running teams in the league (Den was #1 and Bal was #10), they allowed 260 yards on 71 carries, for a 3.7 ypc rate. In other words, they really have clamped down on the outstanding running games of their opponents in the playoffs.

    In their regular season matchup, the Giants had 29 carries for 111 yds, for a 3.8 average. That was without Bradshaw, as we all know. Bradshaw, during the playoffs, has done this:

    vs Atl: 14-63, 4.5 ypc
    at GB: 12-63, 5.3 ypc
    at SF: 20-74, 3.7 ypc

    AVG: 15.3 carries, 66.7 yds, 4.4 ypc

    So he's been very effective, and the Pats sometimes have trouble with backs like him. I expect him to play pretty well on Sunday.

    As far as a game plan goes, I expect NY to try to pass the ball using their 3 WRs against NE's iffy secondary. The run game for NY will be their offspeed pitch, so to speak. I don't expect NY to get much more than 100 yards on the ground, barring a freak 50+ yard run somewhere along the way.

    EDGE: New England

    The Giants' passing game vs. the Patriots' pass defense
    Here is where the Giants will make their hay. As much as I'd like to defend NE's pass defense, it's hard to. Their pass defense is essentially equal to NY's (each held their opponents to an identical 86.1 passer rating this year), but boy they give up a TON of yards. They have been better as the season has gone along:

    Passing yards per game allowed
    First 4 regular season games: 369/g
    Last 12 regular season games: 269/g
    Playoffs: 195/g
    **Last 14 (after their awful first 4 regular season games): 258.4/g

    So they have been better, but still, the Giants present some really difficult matchups. Envisioning Victor Cruz on any of the Pats' DBs is not a pleasant thought, but in this game they get Nicks back (he didn't play in their first matchup this year).

    A key might be the Pats getting pressure on Eli. Eli is a tough SOB, make no mistake about it. He takes a pounding and is somehow able to absorb it. NE's pressure is underrated, as I outlined here (http://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/10/889799-pressure-qb.html): Over their last 5 games (without Andre Carter, mind you), they have averaged about 4 sacks, 6 TFL, and 6 QB hits per game. That's virtually identical to what the vaunted Giants' pressure D has done over their magical 5-game run.

    I expect NE to play a lot of nickel and hope that their front 6 can do the job against the Giants' running game. If they can't get pressure on Manning, he could have a field day. The one good thing about Eli, however, is that he has 2-3 balls a game that are just horrific throws. In the NFCCG he had two of them, and they were both dropped by SF. NE needs to capitalize on Eli's mistakes.

    Nonetheless, the Giants do have a significant edge when they are passing against NE's defense.

    EDGE: New York

    Special Teams and the Little Things
    The Patriots have a decided advantage in these areas (see: http://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/10/891137-little-things-matter.html). The Pats have the edge in the kicking game, in the return game, in the coverage game, in the area of penalties, in the area of "hidden yards" and average field position. In a one game scenario, this could go the other way (just one huge punt return or one special teams mistake flips the formula 180 degrees), but even Bill Parcells (who I saw on ESPN last night) said that the Giants will have to be great in this area tomorrow just to draw even.

    EDGE: New England

    ...con't in next post
     
  2. ivanvamp

    ivanvamp In the Starting Line-Up

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    ...con't from previous post

    PREDICTION

    So here's the thing. I can think of a bunch of reasons why the Giants will win. Their winning scenario, in my view, looks like this:

    *They are able to run pretty effectively - doesn't have to be for 200 yds, but if they can average 4-5 yards a rush, it'll draw the Pats into having to commit to defending the run, which will leave their talented WRs in space, and that's not good.

    *The Pats have one of those days where they're not able to get to the QB. Which is totally possible, even given their increased pressure recently and the fact that NY's OL isn't great.

    *Eli hits some big plays to their WR, which, again, is very possible.

    *NY wins the turnover battle. Doesn't have to be a huge win, but a +1 probably is enough.

    *They get pressure on Brady or at least "phantom" pressure that forces Brady into a few mistakes - doesn't have to be turnovers, could be missing open guys for big plays.

    If that happens, the Giants win. I do not envision much of a scenario where the Giants win big, but I can easily see this happening. NY is definitely good enough to win this game and NE can definitely make enough mistakes to lose it. I see a Giants' winning scenario being something like 24-20 or 27-24.

    However, the Pats' winning scenario, IMO, looks like this:

    *Gronk plays at at least 75% effectiveness.

    *Brady gets time to throw.

    *Brady is on his game - doesn't have to be 500 yds, 6 td, but 300+ yds, 3 td, 0 or 1 int probably does the trick.

    *The defense makes enough red zone stops, holding the Giants to field goal opportunities rather than touchdowns.

    *The Pats are, at worst, even in turnover margin.

    *Gostowski makes the kicks he needs to make. No missing 27-yarders like he did in their regular season matchup.

    I think in this scenario, the Pats can win by anywhere from 3-13 points. I think the Pats have the ability to win big, but the Giants don't. That said, I think it is essentially a 50/50 game, and I think it comes down to the last few minutes.

    And that worries me. Why? Because Eli Manning has shown a penchant for pulling these games out. He has the highest 4th quarter QB rating in the NFL. He wins games. So if it's close at the end, I want Brady with the ball.

    Twelve days ago I thought the Pats would get handled by the Giants. A week ago I argued that it could go either way and that the score would be in the mid 20's. I still think that. But I think that the news on Gronkowski has been encouraging, and I think, the more I look at the game, the more I realize that the Patriots have the edge in enough areas that they should win the game. I think NE is better than the Giants are. Again, NY could easily win this game and it makes me nervous picking the Patriots, but I will do it because, when I look at it as objectively as I can (given that I'm a Pats' fan), NE has more advantages on NY than NY has on NE.

    I see Welker having another big game, as the Giants still can't find a way to stop him. He wins the MVP with a 10 rec, 120 yd, 1 td performance, and the Patriots win 27-23.

    (Please God, let me be right!!!)
     
  3. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I don't think its as close as you do.
    I think for the Giants to win they need a number of favorable plays. Turnovers, fortunate bounces, mental mistakes, blown coverages, etc.
    If the game is play with no turnovers, no fluky plays, etc, I think the Patriots win handily, probably by 2 TDs.
    The fluky plays going in the Pats favor won't really increase the margin, because they will go into playing to win the game mode rather than increasing the margin: Run more, take few chances, play prevent D, etc.
    The Giants are going to either need to force turnovers (and if their pass rush can't create some they are screwed, btw) or have some of those fluky plays and capitalize on them to stay in the game facing a team that has a better offense, better defense and better special teams, not to meniton better coaching.
    There are only 2 ways the Patriot offense ever gets stopped for very long. One is when they turn the ball over and the other is when they try to use the 'stay on schedule' philiosphy. Stay on schedule is use first down to set up a good down and distance on 2nd down (run or throw short) and use 2nd to make sure you are not in 3rd and long (usually run). This turns an offense that makes a ton of 1st downs on 1st or 2nd (I would imagine we came close to an NFL record for # of 10+ yard plays this year) into one that has to convert a bunch of 3rd and 2-5s all the way down the field and invariably are stopped by an incomplete pass on one of them. (Like what happens to normal offenses. It makes our special offense normal)
    If we don't outthink ourselves and try to stay on schedule, and the Giants don't force turnovers, our offense will totally dominate. In this scenario, I expect 24-28 points in the first half.
    I want to see the offense mixing in some runs, but hitting those midrange throws and underneath crossing patterns that get yac (WELKER) preferrably from no huddle in the first half.

    Defensively, I am excited about what BB is going to bring in a gameplan.
    The Giants REEK of a team that playing keep it in front of you, make them drive the field in small chunks, dare them to run, bend dont break will be effective against.
    Eli is known for forcing the ball where he would like it to go. On top of that he has spent the season trying to convince people he is elite, and now has to go to Peytons house and face the true elite QB, and he is facing the pass defense that gave up boatloads of yards. There is no doubt in my mind that Eli goes into this game convinced this is his chance to prove how elite and big time he is. If we force him to be patient, he WILL NOT. If force them to run by the scheme we play, they will not be patient enough to stick with it, especially as our O is lighting it up. Give the run, give the short stuff and disguise coverage schemes to draw Manning into looking for the big play that isn't there. This helps the pass rush, gets him on the move, and causes mistakes. There will be plays to be made, but there will be a number of drives stalled because the Giants will not take what is there, and will force what isn't. This is a big part of the dynamic where BB, given 2 weeks, is so hard to beat. He is going to have a game plan Sunday that forces the Giants to be what they don't want to be in order to exploit what he will do on D.

    Comparing the teams, there is no doubt in my mind, this will be a comfortable win for the Pats, ALL THINGS EQUAL. What can change that is the turnovers, fluky plays or monstrous individual efforts (ie a DL dominating his blocker and getting 3 sacks and forcing 2 fumbles, or a WR making a number of circus catches or conversely a player getting dominated or making mental mistakes creating a big play). There is certainly opportinity for the Giants to win the game, but those areas are where it really has to happen for them.
     
  4. PatriotFan77

    PatriotFan77 Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

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    is there a number of words requirement for this thread? I'll wait until I have a free 3 hours to respond properly.:D
     
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