(New York): QB- Eli Manning - He has shown all season with his performance in big games he is an elite QB. There are still some critics out there who still don't believe he is among the NFL's cream of the crop. Eli has a chance to silence those non-believers tonight in Super Bowl 46 by winning his 2nd title against the New England Patriots. He led his team to a comeback 24-20 win against the Patriots in week 9. He will be facing a Patriots secondary that was ranked 31st against the pass during the regular season.
(New England Patriots): QB- Tom Brady - Mr. Tom Terrific will be making his 5th Super Bowl appearance. He has had a MVP type season and was one of two QBs to break Dan Marino's single season passing yards mark of 5,084 yards with 5,235 yards of his own. The new record holder is Saints QB Drew Brees who passed for 5,476 yards. He and his teammates will be looking to avenge that week 9 loss to the Giants. Brady will look to get the ball to his two favorite targets WR Wes Welker and TE Rob Gronkowski early and often.
New York Offense vs. New England Defense: QB Eli Manning has performed at an elite level all season when the Giants have needed him the most. They have won six straight games against some of the top NFL teams. The receiving core has made big plays all year and are led by WR Victor Cruz and WR Hakeem Nicks both whom have over 1,000 yards receiving. The running game has struggled all season mainly due to injuries to starting running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw is healthy now and makes a difference not only in the running game but also in the passing game where he is dangerous catching screens and dump offs. New England's defense has struggled all year stopping the pass and ranked 31st in total defense. They don't have an elite pass rusher and have too generate pressure by blitzing defenders that should be helping in coverage, therefore the secondary gives up a lot of big plays because of that. DT Vince Wilfork will need to get a consistent push in the middle and throw the offense's timing off.
New York Defense vs. New England Offense: This is where the game could be decided on these two sides of the ball. The Giants have probably the best set of pass rushers on one team. Led by DE Jason Pierre-Paul who had 16.5 sacks but more surprising was he also had 86 tackles. He is long and tremendously athletic and will be a problem for the Patriots offensive line. DE Osi Umenyiora had 9 sacks and will also need to be accounted for on passing downs. New England will need its tackles to play at top notch level all game and slow the Giants rushers to give QB Tom Brady time to find his receivers. The Patriots have ignited the tight end era and uses their two outstanding athletes to create mismatches. TE Rob Gronkowski set the NFL record for receiving yards in a season (1,327 yards) and tds (17). His tag team partner TE Aaron Hernandez caught 7 tds with 910 yards receiving. If the Giants defense can find a way to neutralize these two it is only half the battle won. The next problem is containing Tom Brady's favorite target and go to player on crucial downs and his name is WR Wes Welker. He caught 122 passes for 1,569 yards and 9 tds in 2011.
Patriots Offensive Tackles (versus) Giants Defensive Ends: Matt Light and Nate Solder have done a fine job all season protecting Tom Brady. They will need to have huge performances in the Super Bowl and contain the New York Giants pass rushers. DE Jason Pierre-Paul (16.5 sacks)will be the most challenging to contain because of his quickness off the ball and superb athleticism. He and DE Justin Tuck can line up outside or inside and cause tons of problems for the offensive line. Osi Umenyiora (9 sacks in 2011) is the veteran of the crew and can still put consistent pressure on the QB if you leave him matched up one on one with a tackle. Besides the turnover battle whomever wins this matchup may just decide the winner of Super Bowl 46.
WR Victor Cruz and WR Hakeem Nicks (versus) Patriots Defensive Backs: The dynamic duo of Cruz and Nicks have made big plays all season long and during their playoffs run. They both can beat you deep or take a short pass and take it to the house. They also each eclipsed the 1,000 yards receiving mark. The Patriots secondary has been one of the worst in NFL history and ranked 31st defending the pass. They need to find a way to create turnovers and keep the Giants offense on the sidelines. If not, it could be another long night for this unit.
Final Word: Super Bowl 46 has arrived led by two outstanding QBs in Tom Brady and Eli Manning. The city of Indianapolis should be feeling very fortunate considering we almost didn't have football in 2011 because of the NFL lockout. With all of that now behind us and the league flourishing, we can get on with what is most important to the fans and that is the game. I have said all year that the passing game and QBs are king of the NFL today. All of the top running backs, rushing teams, and top defenses are all sitting at home watching the game on TV. The Giants had the 5th ranked pass offense but ranked 32nd in rushing offense and 26th in total defense. The Patriots had the 2nd ranked pass offense but ranked 31st in both total defense and pass defense. How can that be with the old saying of "A good running game and Defense wins Championships". Well, it is a pass first league now and if you have a franchise type QB with plenty of receiving options your chances of making a run to the Super Bowl is higher. So with all of that said, Super Bowl 46 will probably be decided by the team who makes the most plays in the passing game. Good luck to the Giants and the Patriots! And thanks for an awesome season. To all of the other 30 teams who are at home, in 2012 I would come out and "Throw That Girl".