|SUPER BOWL: Why the New England Patriots will win and complete perfect season|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 01 February 2008 19:04|
Well, you're right. It is.
Does anyone honestly believe Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Randy Moss and the Patriots franchise will allow themselves to be associated with one of the greatest upsets in sports history? Think about it.
It's not going to happen.
``I told everyone that whatever you may think may be important this next week, it's really not that important,'' Brady said upon arriving in Arizona, ``because this week will have an impact on the rest of your life.''
The Patriots have come too far to fail in their quest to join the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only NFL teams to go undefeated from start to finish. Belichick, a master strategist, has had two weeks to put together the mother of all game plans and join Pittsburgh's Chuck Noll as the only coaches to win four Super Bowls.
``He's a guy who doesn't overlook any detail,'' safety Rodney Harrison said. ``That's Bill Belichick. He just pays attention to every single aspect or detail about this football team. And that's the thing that really separates Bill Belichick from others.''
That means the Giants are in trouble.
Sure, New York gave New England a major scare in Week 17 and nearly pulled off an upset. But almost doesn't cut it. Eli Manning had a terrific game, and the Giants' defensive line pressured, hit and forced Brady to make decisions faster than he prefers.
It still wasn't good enough, and the Patriots now know what to expect.
``We are all going to do our best to hopefully make this one of the weeks that we remember for all of the great reasons and not a week we would like to forget,'' Brady said.
He'll make sure of it. He's got the looks the ladies love, and he's got everything anyone could ever want in a quarterback. Just ask Moss.
``We are talking about the MVP,'' he said, ``and in my eyes, the greatest quarterback to ever play this game.''
Brady is the ultimate leader: cool, calm and collected. He also has had perhaps the best season in NFL history by a quarterback, setting records with 50 touchdown passes - and five more in the playoffs - and leading the Patriots to a league mark for points. He's been helped by a massive and talented offensive line that has allowed just 24 sacks, a career-low for Brady.
One of those sacks came against the Giants, who have the league's top pass rush, but starting right guard Stephen Neal and right tackle Nick Kaczur didn't play in that game because of injuries. They're back, so Brady's bunch of brawny and bearded linemen are all together.
Many believe the one way to beat Brady is to fluster him and make him to stray from the game plan. It didn't work for the Giants a month ago, and it didn't work 17 other weeks.
Even when Brady is forced to change things up on the fly, he always seems to make the right call. Moss, who caught an NFL-record 23 TDs, has only two catches in the postseason. No problem. Instead, Brady has found Wes Welker, who had 112 receptions in the regular season and 16 more in the playoffs.
Throw in Donte' Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney and Benjamin Watson, as well running backs Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk, and Brady has too many targets for the Giants to stop on a consistent basis.
The Achilles' heel of the Patriots' offense was supposed to be the running game, but Maroney has stepped it up by rushing for 244 yards in the postseason.
``When you have a physical defense like they do, you go downhill, and hopefully they get tired of tackling,'' Maroney said.
The Patriots' previous Super Bowl championship teams - in 2001, '03 and '04 - were powered by strong, stifling defenses and solid and efficient offenses. The roles are reversed this year, but don't overlook New England's defense.
The Patriots led the league in pass defense with a playmaking secondary in Harrison, Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs and James Sanders. Manning had a good day against these guys, throwing for 251 yards and four touchdowns, but also was picked off by Hobbs on a crucial play late in the fourth quarter.
Sure, the linebackers are an aging group with Junior Seau (39), Mike Vrabel (32), Tedy Bruschi (34) and Adalius Thomas (30), but they've got seven Super Bowl rings among them. With Brady's ability to chew up time with long, sustained drives, these old-timers usually don't have to worry about getting tired because they're on the field too long.
The Patriots also have the better kicker. It's not Adam Vinatieri anymore, but Stephen Gostkowski has become New England's Mr. Clutch in his second season with the Patriots. Gostkowski, 22-of-26 on field-goal attempts, set an NFL record by kicking 74 extra points during the regular season and has added seven more in the playoffs.
``He has a good temperament for the game,'' Belichick said. ``He has a good degree of confidence, but certainly not overbearing.''
Speaking of going overboard, those black suits the Giants wore on the plane to Arizona, representing a funeral for the Patriots? Keep dreaming.
``A look is just a look,'' Harrison said. ``You've still got to execute, and you've still got to make plays in between the lines. Talking isn't going to get it done. You'd better strap up, and you've got to get ready to play. It's 60 minutes.''
Still, chatty wide receiver Plaxico Burress guaranteed a Giants victory - 23-17. The last few times players made such a bold claim - Pittsburgh's Anthony Smith in Week 13, and San Diego's Igor Olshansky before the AFC championship - they were embarrassed by Brady and the Patriots.
Hey, Plax, remember this: There's only one Joe Namath.
And there's only one pick for this game: Patriots 38, Giants 24.