3 days. 4 if you count today. That is all that stands between the New England Patriots and immortality (okay, maybe just in the sense of football and football analysis).
But truthfully, Thomas Edward Patrick Brady is 3.5 days away from assuming the crown of best quarterback alive. Bill Belichick is 3.5 days away from being able to rename his boat to VI Rings. Is it fitting, or perhaps even a sign, that his sixth Super Bowl ring would come with XLVI?
All Patriots fans are walking on eggshells at this point- cautious to get their hopes up for a victory; worried for the devastation that would result from losing two consecutive Super Bowls to Eeyor Manning. A lot of the Patriot fanbase has become accustomed to hedging their expectations and hopes, almost as a reaction to the Belichickian dialect we've heard for the last decade. When we encounter a brash team, with a brash fanbase, it's hard to stomach the possibility of losing.
It doesn't help that most of those same Giants fans are also fans of the New York Yankees. On top of losing in the Super Bowl, Boston losing to New York can't even begin to be described as a "double whammy."
This game shouldn't be a revenge game for the Patriots, because it's almost an entirely different team. This team is far from the perfect record, and far from perfect in general. But this game is absolutely a revenge game for this fanbase. With Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady having the pulse of that fanbase, hopefully they understand this.
With all of that being said, let's move on to the single constant I think this game will boil down to- physicality.
If all of the talk of the Giants' front four this week has bothered you, imagine what it has done to New England's offensive line. Heck, to our own defensive line.
All that Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Brian Waters, Sebastian Vollmer, and Nate Solder have been hearing since the beginning of the playoffs is that Tom Brady will falter as they falter. That they (as a collective group) have been a major reason for New England's failures for three consecutive playoff games. Until this postseason, where they've allowed a single sack in two games. Think that they had any motivation for that success?On the other hand, you have the Patriots defensive line- a unit that has put on two fantastic performances in a row, led by a man possessed in Vince Wilfork. A perennially All-Pro who just now seems to be reaching his peak. A (conservatively) 350 lbs. behemoth that is built to dominate the line of scrimmage. Most people don't realize that with the exception of the 2011 season, Vince has had more sacks in this postseason (2.5) than he did in any other year in his career. I guess it's fitting that it comes in the postseason following the best year of his career, where he had a career-high 3.5 sacks and 2 interceptions.
I'm not sure if this game is going to turn into a shootout, which is definitely has the potential to. But I know that this team has the potential to out-physical their opponents, to play 60 minutes of smashmouth football on both sides of the ball. If the Patriots operate with Nate Solder in as a tight end, they will be able to keep the Giants' pass rush at bay while also having the firepower to push the "Nascar" package back for yards at a time. This is ultimately why many have predicted that BenJarvus Green-Ellis could possibly be the MVP of the Super Bowl.
The Giants have the best wide receiver trio in the league, backed up by statistics. And it's definitely possible that Eli Manning will throw for 300+ yards- actually, it's the statiscal law of averages. But I know one thing- New England will make them earn every yard. Wilfork, Warren, Love, Anderson, Chung, and Spikes are going to hit Eli Manning and New York every chance they get. After all, this is a New York Giants offensive line that gave up 5 sacks and 20 pressures two weeks ago.
For once, Eli is going to have to hope his line holds up in the heat of battle. I like the Patriots' chances.