Last week I rambled about some of my general thoughts on the Giants and the Superbowl.. Now that the SB is closer, it is time for me to go into a little more depth about this matchup. Isn't this your lucky day?! :rocker: (first, a word of disclosure, I predicted NE to beat Jax 41-17 and SD 35-24. Obviously I am not on the best run right now, so take everything I say with a huge grain of salt. Although, in fairness to me, NE likely beats Jax by that type of score if Gost hits the FG ans Welker holds on to the ball. And how was I supposed to know that Brady was sick? :bricks: Bah!) * No matter what excuses I or any Pats fan wants to toss in Eli's direction, he most certainly has improved his play greatly in the last month. In my opinion he has to thank the boys up front for much of his success. Ever since the last NE game, NY's OL has given Manning tons of time to throw the ball and he has stepped up as a result. Even when flushed from the pocket, Eli has made some terrific plays on the run, particularly to his right. However, I still have some questions about him. Against GB, Manning rarely had to look in any direction aside from Burress who dominated Al Harris. Burress was awesome in that game, catching 11 of 13 passes - 11 catches being one more than the entire rest of the team. Now, obviously Burress' catches count, but I found it interesting that Manning was 11/13 for 154 yards throwing to Burress and 10/27 for 100 yards throwing to everyone else. When Dallas took Burress away the week before, Manning had OK numbers, but the offense was clearly not as much of a threat. This leads me to believe that Eli isn't quite at the level that people are making him out to be. The key for NE will be limiting Burress' touches while getting enough pressure to make Manning hurry through his secondary reads. * Another Eli thing I noticed while rewatching some games: He still seems to lose grasp on the specific situation at hand sometimes. I will give you two examples. First, NY's final TD drive against NE was markedly slow with Manning taking several seconds off the clock unnecessarily prior to every snap. There were three plays on the drive - none of which being longer than 12 yards - that at least 30 seconds ran off the clock before the next snap. Another 7 yard pass saw them take 26 seconds off before the next snap. Against GB, after Plax dropped a perfect throw by Manning at the two yard line, Manning scrambled for a 2 yard gain despite the team being out of timeouts. He then failed to even throw the ball on 4th down despite having about 7 seconds to do so. Sure the coverage was good and sure GB made Manning move in the pocket, but it is 4th down with only 5 seconds left. The odds of a pick being returned for a TD - the only negative in that situation as any return into NY territory would also run out the clock - are infintesimal compared to the chances that a receiver would make a play. Long story short, Manning will play well if NY's OL gives him the same time they have in the last month. He will play great if that happens combined with Burress being open repeatedly. But if NE can get even decent pressure while minimizing Burress' opportunities, I think that Eli could take a step back. * Rewatching the GB game surprised me in another way - the Packers played a lousy game. They never gave Harris any help despite it being obvious early that he had no chance against Plax. Their DL was largely dominated by NY's OL (which I credit NY more than blame GB). Favre was pretty terrible despite getting good time on most plays. Every time the defense made a play they would also commit an unnecessary penalty giving NY more chances. NY also recovered 4 of their 5 fumbles. I originally walked away from the game thinking that NY gave an impressive beatdown to a good team. The second time gave me a different impression. I can't see them playing like that against NE and even staying competitive. * I said this before, but NE has an advantage in this game since they have a catalog of film on NY's improved play and they dealt with it head on. I still think that NY's elevated play caught NE offguard the final week and they will be better prepared for it this time. * A few times this season, I have been taken aback by something a player or coach said. For instance, when BB said, "On Sunday, that's when we'll make our statement" prior to the first SD game, I knew that they were going to kill them. I'm getting the same feeling now watching the Giants trip all over themselves to convice everyone that they deserve to be here and they can beat NE while nothing comes from NE's locker room. We don't even hear a "Let them say what they want, we're gonna do our talking on the field." Just a giddy Bill Belichick smiling and laughing at the podium. I can't explain it, but I can sense a tremendous amount of confidence from their behavior. * Thinking about the Carolina comparison that I and others have made, I think this gives me more confidence. Yes, the game was very close with the Cats even having a late lead in the game, but NE really dominated that game early and blew some of their chances. In the first half, they missed two easy FGs and had another makable FG taken away by a stupid, stupid play call (the end around on 3rd and 3). Add to that the lousy squib kick that lead to Carolina's half-ending FG and NE really outplayed Carolina to the tune of a 23-7 score but went in at halftime only up 14-10. I still maintain that if that game was played 100 times, Carolina would have won 10, played a close game 25 times and would have been blown out 65. Obviously, by that same token, Carolina did play it close which means that the opposite point can be made as well. I just think that this NE team is much better and won't blow so many opportunites. * For all the talk about about NY's defense in the playoffs, I thought they played a better game against NE than they did GB. They were consistently in Brady's face and I thought that they played the run as well against NE as they did against GB - GB just inexplicably stopped running even though the game was close throughout. I thought GB showed signs of success running in the second half, but maybe I was wrong. Anyway, NY played as well defensively against NE before as they have in the playoffs, but they still gave up 38 points despite NE missing their right side of the line, Kyle Brady and not having a 3TE package available. Even if NY plays better, I find it hard seeing NY holding NE under 30 points in a dome. Further along this line, NY allowed NE to score on 7 of 9 real possessions. Along with this, NE's shortest first half TOP drive was equal to NY's longest. The kept it close for as long as they did because they kept NE out of the EZ in the first half and the KO return. But the signs of NE's 22-0 run in the second half were there early on. * In conclusion, I just think that NE is too strong for the Giants. I see a full circle conlusion of a 38-14 win against a NY team. As always, I welcome your thoughts.