Superbowl Thoughts and a prediction

Discussion in ' - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Oswlek, Jan 29, 2008.

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  1. Oswlek

    Oswlek Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    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.
  2. Grogan's neck roll

    Grogan's neck roll On the Game Day Roster

    Excellent job. I'll add to your points about Al Harris and GB, I heard some analyst talking about the fact that the Giants knew what they were going to get with GB because they play man to man and come after you, and they don't adjust.

    Obviously, BB will not have his D take one approach for the whole game, and even if what he expects to happen doesn't, he'll adjust further in game. I think the Pats D against the Giants O will be much different on Sunday than it was on 12/31.

    Great work by the way.
  3. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi Supporter

    #12 Jersey

    Regarding Eli, GB plays right into their hands by refusing to help Al Harris. I know everyone says he's really good but in the two games I saw (Dallas and NYG) he was totally punked man to man and they wouldn't/didn't/couldn't do anything to help. Eli's reads will be more difficult this week than "find Burress, throw to Burress".

    On the Carolina comparison, I agree that it could easily have been a bigger win (especially if Harrison hadn't broken his arm in the 3rd quarter) but we're just a way better team. That year we scored 348 and allowed 238, a point differential of 110. This year with 589-274 we have a point differential of 315. That's 205 points better this year, or 12.8 PPG better than the 2003 team.
  4. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi Supporter

    #12 Jersey

    I was just listening to Esiason on the WEEI vault from yesterday's interview and he said (jokingly but the intent was real) that the Patriots would score 60 against GB based on the way they just leave Harris on an island and forget about him all game.
  5. Watson's IQ

    Watson's IQ Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    I agree, to a certain extent. While the Packers have a very decent defense, they are entirely too vanilla in the way they play coverage. Harris is left on an island too often, and you can be sure that Hobbs is going to have some help on Plaxico this game.

    I expect that the Patriots defensive gameplan will be just about as complex as Green Bay's was vanilla, which is part of the reason I expect Eli to struggle.

    I'm calling for something along the lines of 34-20, but of the sort where the Giants score a garbage time TD, making the game look closer than it was.
  6. denverpatsfan

    denverpatsfan Supporter Supporter

    They did take Harris off Plax for a play or two in that game. The other cornerback was beaten too and Harris went back to covering him.

    How many games does the kicker get 3 chances to win the game?

    But hand to to them they prevailed where GB couldn't close the deal.
  7. Oswlek

    Oswlek Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    It isn't about switching CBs, it is about mixing up coverages.
  8. Oswlek

    Oswlek Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    Is there an echo in here? ;)

    Last edited: Jan 29, 2008
  9. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi Supporter

    #12 Jersey

    I just provided numbers for your thought :)
  10. Oswlek

    Oswlek Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    I know. Just funnin' ya.
  11. MoLewisrocks

    MoLewisrocks Supporter Supporter

    Couldn't agree more. Right after the GB game ended NFLN was doing highlights and it was like a comedy routine about two team incapable of winning. The spin was refined later, and it was IMHO revisionist history. Brett choked in epic fashion, McCarthy lost control of the situation, perhaps because it blindsided him, the Dallas loss and their own win against the Seafrauds fed that latent ego, they abandoned the run altogether. Their D was sufficient by and large, just their O evaporated in the way it always will with the gunslinger at the helm and I think it ate the D up as that game wore on. They won the OT toss for God sakes and could do NOTHING with it with a Superbowl on the line. Pathetic.

    At the end of the day the Giants beat 3 NFC teams on the road to the SB. You can only play the schedule, and in this case all within your conference. The entire conference is inferior, for whatever reasons, and that is what people either forget or refuse to acknowledge when dabling in revisionish history. Add to that each team they faced had issues approaching the playoffs. Gruden's team barely eeked out a division title and were so injured in the process he rested them into rust. Dallas was falling apart down the stretch, and Wade chose to rest them too. Neither team was playing it's best ball down the stretch. GB got caught up in the SB hype after beating the Seafrauds convincingly and watching the Cowboys fold like a house of cards which made them the HFA team by default. With a Superbowl berth fairly handed to them, they folded like a cheap suit some gunslinger from Kiln would wear.

    The Giants played their best game of the season in week 17, and they almost beat an undefeated team playing tight, looking to seal the deal on some passing records, and playing without several starters. It's a mismatch as it would have been had we faced the Bears again in 2006.
  12. patfanken

    patfanken Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    #91 Jersey

    Nice Job Owl - I think the most insightful item of your thread were your comments on Plaxico. There is no way that a BB team would handle a team's most dangerous threat in that manner.

    First the Pats are a zone team primarilry and would never allow a stronger taller WR be taken on by a smaller CB with less physical strength. It just didn't make sense at the time and makes less sense with the Pats.

    Here is what I suspect the Pats will do with Plaxico. I see him being challenged off the LOS, but NOT by some 185lb CBm bur by a LB/SS type. For example I see AThomas lining up opposite Plex and beating him up in the 5 yd box before releasing him to someone in the secondary.

    Rodney Harrison would be another person who could challenge Plex in the short zones. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Merriweather take a crack at him, and chase him around in the short zones.

    Plex's strengths are his size, hands, and Moss-like hand/eye coordination. His weaknesses are his quickness and speed. With an undercover guy like AD, the Pats can take Plex OUT of the game, because as he goes deeper his "strengths are mitigated by the faster, quicker Patriot CBs.

    BTW- Just another thought. It is critical that the Pats use ALL this potential coverages on Plex. The key to rattling Manning (either one btw ;) ) is to keep making them question what they are seeing for keys. That makes it imperative that the defense keep showing him different looks.....AND that is what the Pats EXCELL at....and what the Packers seemed uncapable to do.

    I'm not only going to predict the score, I'm going to break it down by quarters. How's that for HUBRIS :D

    1. Period 2 The Pats KO to the Giants to start the game (with me, what else would you expect) Playing with most vanilla defenses the Pats give ground grudgingly and the Giant's manage 2 FG's in the period out of 3 possessions. On the other hand the Pats get the ball twice and and have 2 scoring drives consisting of a TD and FG. End of 1, Pats 10- Giants 6

    2. Period 2 - Now that the Pats have a handle on the Giants offense, they start applying more pressure and begin to shut the Giant offense down. On the offensive side of the ball, the Pats manage 2 long scoring drives for TDs, and the Giants can only manage one score after a 50+ yd phantom PI call on Ellis Hobbs. End of Half Pats 24 Giants 13.

    3. Period 3 - The Pats open the 2nd ahalf with an 8 minute TD drive that extends their lead...and then predictably their offense starts to get sloppy and they manage only another FG that period. Meanwhile the Giants only manage one effective drive to the Pat 25 and grab the FG. End of 3 Pats 34. Giants 16.

    4. Period 4 - Once again the Pats keep the ball basically on the ground and grind out ANOTHER long 7 minuted TD drive, and Bradt goes to the Bench permently with 9 minutes left in the game. With the game no longer in doubt the Pats 2nd team defense get to experience a superbow, and grudgingly allowing a garbage time TD to the Giants. FINAL SCORE- Pats 41- Giants 23

    ....And then we are "ever" :D
  13. chris_in_sunnyvale

    chris_in_sunnyvale In the Starting Line-Up

    If I had to guess BB's 5 points to winning the Super Bowl, I believe two of them would be to fill the box to shut down the run and double Burress. Manning would have to beat the Pats by throwing to Toomer, Smith and Boss on short throws, one after the other. I don't think Eli has it in him to do this for four quarters and I think BB knows this. I'll be shocked if Burress has a big game.

    On offense, the return of Neal, Kaczur and K.Brady is huge for this 2nd game vs. NY. Brady was pressured quite a bit in the previous game, yet still was able to pick apart that secondary. I know the Giants got their CBs healthy for this game, but it's not like those CBs were Bailey and Samuel. The additional time Brady should have will allow him to pick them apart. I will give the Giants this, though: I doubt Welker goes off like he did in December.

    Another thing I'm hoping to see from the Pats...the return of play-action. Maroney was killing San Diego, yet the Pats didn't even once try a play-action in the 2nd half. I'd love to see them kill NY with this.

  14. Mike the Brit

    Mike the Brit Minuteman Target Supporter

    Disable Jersey

    Thanks for a terrific post -- much appreciated.

    Just one thought about the "air of confidence" that the Patriots have. BB has been excellent this season at increasing and reducing pressure before games. Does anyone remember the preparations for the trip to Indianapolis? The players were notably relaxed, joking in press conferences, finding time for trips to the Garden to watch the Celtics and so on. On the other hand, there has been no let-up for supposedly "easy" games (which has been just as well!)

    The secret of preparing for any big event is to do your worrying at the right time. Nervousness, stress and worry all sap energy, but you need adrenaline to prepare yourself for a big performance.

    BB can allow the players to relax now because he knows (crosses fingers!) that his players are not going to do something crazy and that the group will focus when it's time to go.
  15. ClevTrev

    ClevTrev Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    Good posts, Oswelk. pfk, MLr, chris, and others. I believe you've all contributed sound strategic predictions. The one thing I'd add is that I believe the Giants are going to try and run the ball at NE from their opening drive. I believe Jacobs and Bradshaw will be run down NE's throats until they can't run anymore. This is not something NE isn't familiar with, as other teams have attempted this. The difficulty is that Jacobs is a horse, and the Pats will need to tackle this guy hard and low. Bradshaw is the change up back with the moves and the elusiveness. This is a good combination, and if I were Coughlin, this is what I'd do with that O-line and to keep Eli from having to throw too many passes.

    How NE responds will determine the Giants offensive strategy for the remainder of the game. If the Pats can control the run, then they're in the driver's seat. Should be interesting.
  16. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi Supporter

    #12 Jersey

    I think we'll see some. On offense we have the best yards per play in the league on play action; however, on defense San Diego also had the best ranked play action defense. I don't know where the NYG rank but there's a reason we didn't run it against SD.
  17. Oswlek

    Oswlek Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    Other than Baltimore, who faced NE is dramatically different circumstances, not one team this year has kept a game close due to success in the running game. I hope that NE is run on continuously because the biggest weakness in NE's defense is defending the pass on early downs when they have their base package in there.

    Run, run and run some more.
  18. chris_in_sunnyvale

    chris_in_sunnyvale In the Starting Line-Up

    Regarding the bolded part, it's important to understand why the stat exists. San Diego probably lead the league in defense against play-action because nobody ran on San Diego, so they had no reason to bite on play-action. However, the Pats were running roughshod over San Diego in that 2nd half. Taking that into consideration, I suspect their play-action defense might have softened up a bit.

    Of course one could say that since they weren't biting on play-action, their safeties were too far back to stop Maroney in the 2nd half. Heck, if that's the case then by all means they can keep their safeties back.

  19. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi Supporter

    #12 Jersey

    That could be - or not - I got that stat from the Football Outsiders' SD game preview and don't know if the raw stats are available to see more.
  20. ClevTrev

    ClevTrev Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    Agreed, and I believe this is what the Giants will do early.
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