Editor's note: this is the counter-post to why Brady and the Patriots should win the Super Bowl.
Several years ago, I wouldn't have believed you if you had told me that Eli Manning would have more Super Bowl rings than Peyton Manning. If the Giants' season continues the way it has been going, that's exactly what's going to happen this Sunday in Indianapolis.
Forget the Giants' struggles during the regular season. The fact is that this team knows how to flip the switch, and once they do, there is no stopping them. While the Patriots were busy having their cakewalk matches against Denver and Baltimore, arguably the two worst offensive teams in the postseason, the Giants had some pretty tough competition they had to battle through.
The Falcons might not have been the favorites to beat New York in the Wildcard round of the playoffs, but nobody expected the Giants' defense to pitch a shutout against Atlanta's offense. The Giants' fearsome pass rushers up front kicked it into another gear at the right time of the season, a trend that would continue the following two weeks. Another reason that trend continued is the confidence that has been on display by Eli Manning.
Do you remember four years ago, when Manning threw up a prayer to David Tyree? Of course you remember; how could anyone forget that play? Those were the days when Manning was still only an above average quarterback. This year, between the reads he makes and the moxy he displays on the field, Manning has risen to the ranks of an elite quarterback. This dates back to the regular season too, when Manning and the Giants traveled to New England. Manning led the Giants to a game-winning touchdown drive in the closing seconds of the game. You can't say "lightning doesn't strike twice" in this case, because the Giants have stood up to Bill Belichick and company twice and come away victorious.
Let's get back to the run the Giants have been on. The past two weeks, they defeated the top two teams in the NFC, the Packers and the 49ers, on the road. They dismantled the Packers, and came through in the clutch against the 49ers. Tom Coughlin has often been criticized for his methods, but for all the times the Jets have received preseason projections for "doing great things," it has been the other New York team that quietly marches its way to the finish line and beyond.
The Giants have everything going for them right now:
- Over a three-game span in the playoffs, they've held some pretty good offenses to an average of 13 points per game. The defense is making plays too -- they have registered nine sacks and constantly get pressure on the quarterback.
- The turnover differential has been great. The Giants' only turnover is one interception by Manning. The Giants' defense/special teams unit has created six turnovers: one interception, and five fumble recoveries.
- Regarding Manning's confidence earlier, the statistics show how good he has been, throwing for 8 touchdowns to just 1 interception. Even against the 49ers' tough defense last week, he prevailed. He has much better receivers than he had in his last Super Bowl; Hakeem Nicks or Victor Cruz can take it the distance on any given play.
- Their running game might not be explosive, but I think the Giants have a bit more confidence in what they can achieve on the ground than the Patriots do (not including a couple of handoffs to Aaron Hernandez).
Another huge factor is this: the Patriots have become so dependent on tight end Rob Gronkowski, but now there is some doubt as to whether his ankle will be at 100 percent or not. What is Gronkowski goes out there and tweaks it right away from trying to play too soon? Aaron Hernandez is good, but suddenly you're shifting everyone around on the depth chart and forcing Tom Brady to adjust his mentality -- he wouldn't have the same security blanket he's relied on all season. When the Giants' pass rush tries to deliver him hell, who is Brady going to entrust to be on the same page as him? Wes Welker will get double covered, so it's not going to be him. The answer is that we could see Brady end up with the same fates that Matt Ryan and Rodgers had: a loss to the Giants as Eli holds the Lombardi trophy high above his head for the second time.
Note: My official prediction will be unveiled this Sunday, prior to the game.