OUR JIM SEZ SUPER BOWL XLVI PREVIEW IS HERE
OUR JIM SEZ SUPER BOWL XLVI PREVIEW IS HERE
WE BREAK DOWN THE GIANTS VS. PATRIOTS CLASH IN INDY AND DIG INTO WHAT WILL REALLY BE IMPORTANT ON SUPER SUNDAY
By Jim Hurley:
Think about this for a second or two: Super Bowl XLVI between the New England Patriots and the 3-point underdog New York Giants truly has become many different things for different people - there are the pro-Giants folks who believe this second-to-none pass rush will rule the roost much as it did back in Supe 42 when the G-men struck up a 17-14 shock-the-world win and yet there are pro-Patriots people who believe this will be a coronation game of sorts for head coach Bill Belichick and mega-star QB Tom Brady.
After all, there is only one other coach/QB combo that owns four Super Bowl rings and that's the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers tandem of Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw. So, talk about getting into that elite company!
There are pro-Patriots folks who believe this game has extra-special meaning to a franchise trying to"win one for Myra Kraft (the owner's late wife)" while the Giants community will point to the fortuitous bounces NYG received in the NFC Championship Game win at San Francisco two weeks ago and than they will tell you that proves it's the"Giants' year".
No doubt if you take the temperature of the nation at large you get the sense that the Giants should be the betting favorites here in Indianapolis - might the Las Vegas know-it-alls perhaps made a key blunder? - and nary is there a bad word for Giants QB Eli Manning who could be hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy (and possibly the MVP award too) right here in the backyard of big brother Peyton come 'round 10 p.m. ET on Sunday night.
Yeah, Super Bowl XLVI has plenty of 'em whether it's regarding Manning or Brady or Belichick or Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin - all of the above-named gentlemen will have their time in the spotlight here on the biggest sports day of the year but will this game also belong to a Julian Edelman or a Victor Cruz or maybe Lawrence Tynes ... again.
We'll open up a treasure chest of good stuff in a moment as present our Jim Sez Super Bowl XLVI Preview but first this key reminder:
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will get you the Super Bowl XLVI Sides & Totals Winners this Sunday plus there's always lots of College Basketball and NBA Winners too each and every day when you check in with us either right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. The check-in times are after 1 p.m. ET for all the Monday-through-Friday weeknight action and after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays/Sundays/Holidays ... so get 'em while they're red-hot and make sure you finish off the football season with a real bang!
Sunday, February 5
SUPER BOWL XLVI
Lucas Oil Stadium - Indianapolis, IN
NEW YORK GIANTS (12-7) vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (15-3) - 6:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Nearly four years ago to the day (see Feb. 3, 2008) the New England Patriots found out they weren't perfect with that aforementioned 17-14 loss to the Giants in Glendale: Now, the Pats don't need to be perfect this Sunday in"Nap Town" - they just need to be good enough.
And just how does New England plan on getting some long-lost"justice" here?
Well, let all the other"experts" out there ramble on about how Brady must step up in the pocket and evade that pass rush that sacked 'em five times in that Supe 42 game for years ago but the fact of the matter is Brady and Company must sport a true balance here - you might have noticed that in the hang-on-for-dear-life 23-20 non-cover win against Baltimore in the AFC Championship Game that Brady threw the ball 36 times (completing 22) while the N'England ground game rushed the ball 31 times and that's what offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien would like to accomplish here, if possible.
The key to Brady's aerial success lies - no doubt - in both the protection that this brilliant O-line can offer along with what TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez (a combined 12 receptions for 153 yards in the title tilt win against the Ravens) can provide and right now nobody can say with any real assurance that Gronkowski will be close to 100 percent following his much-ballyhooed ankle injury and he could have his YAC (yards after catch) severely limited here.
So, the Patriots will need RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (see game-high 68 yards rushing in the AFC Championship Game) to zip up the middle for some seven, eight-yard rushes here and some Brady handoffs from the shotgun to both Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead must produce some"chunk yardage" plays for the chalk side ... or else.
The Giants' pass rush starring Jason Pierre-Paul (16 ½ regular-season sacks), Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck combined for three sacks of San Francisco QB Alex Smith in that tug-of-war 20-17 overtime win in the NFC Championship Game but here the key stat will be hurries - can this"NASCAR" group make Brady jittery in the pocket plus can they disrupt a ground game that probably needs to bang out a minimum 100 yards rushing for the Pats to have a semblance of success here.
Now, let's look at what's - even more - the fascinating part of SB XLVI and that's examining what this Patriots defense is gonna do against QB Manning and this big-play Giants aerial game?
Keep in mind that Manning stood in there and took all the licks (20 hits in all) in that aforementioned win against the Niners two Sundays back and he showed no signs of getting rattled and thus leads one to believe that pass rush will be less important as will the overall downfield coverage against WRs Hakeem Nicks and the above-mentioned Mr. Cruz (a combined 15 catches for 197 yards against SF) - simply put, Belichick (a long-time defensive backs guru) will"double" both Hicks and Cruz for much of this affair and gamble that the likes of Edelman and mates can handle WR Mario Manningham.
So, that leads us to believe that key components in this game for the Giants will be their"underneath" guys like TEs Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum and maybe even FB/H-back Henry Hynoski as these guys may wind up being most responsible for moving the chains here. A key: The Patriots' LBs better make one-on-one tackles or there could be some long gainers here.
Much is being made of the fact that Patriots DT Vince Wilfork right now is playing some of his best-ever football - but is he gonna get enough help along the D-line here against a Giants offensive line that's been sound as a pass-block unit but not so stout as run blockers in recent weeks?
The other big factor that's been in the Giants' favor lately - how about special teams as PK Tynes has proven to be clutch - paging Billy Cundiff! - while P Steve Weatherford has been a not-so-secret weapon himself and did you notice his dozen punts averaged 46.4 yards against the Niners in rainy/wind-swept conditions?
As we pointed out in an earlier-week Jim Sez column, it's this"hidden yardage" aspect that could sway the game in the Giants' favor here providing Weatherford can pin the Pats deep in their own end a few times and providing that Giants kick/punt coverage units continue to sparkle -- and don't forget New England's Woodhead lost a key fumble in that title game win against Baltimore.
Even if you wish to call Coughlin versus Belichick a"wash" here in Super Bowl 46, this one could well come down to a play here or a play there:
Note the Pats have lost the turnover battle in both of their playoff wins this year against Denver and Baltimore but something tells us if they lose the turnover battle here than they also will lose the war.
Do the Pats have divine intervention working for 'em? Or is this déjà vu magic carpet ride by the Giants not gonna stop till they get another parade down the"Canyon of Heroes" in Lower Manhattan?
Now, here's a look at the game-by-game results this year for both the Giants and the Patriots. Note all home teams are in CAPS below:
NEW YORK GIANTS
|#1||WASHINGTON||+ 1.5||NY Giants||L 14-28|
|#2||NY GIANTS||- 7||St. Louis||W 28-16|
|#3||NY Giants||+ 7.5||PHILADELPHIA||W 29-16|
|#4||NY Giants||PK||ARIZONA||W 31-27|
|#5||Seattle||+ 9.5||NY GIANTS||L 25-36|
|#6||NY GIANTS||- 3.5||Buffalo||L 27-24|
|#8||NY GIANTS||- 9.5||Miami||L 20-17|
|#9||NY Giants||+ 10||NEW ENGLAND||W 24-20|
|#10||SAN FRANCISCO||- 4||NY Giants||W 27-20|
|#11||Philadelphia||+ 6||NY GIANTS||L 10-17|
|#12||NEW ORLEANS||- 7||NY Giants||L 24-49|
|#13||Green Bay||- 7||NY GIANTS||W 35-38|
|#14||NY Giants||+ 4.5||DALLAS||W 37-34|
|#15||Washington||+ 6||NY GIANTS||L 10-23|
|#16||NY Giants||+ 2.5||NY JETS||W 29-14|
|#17||NY GIANTS||- 3||Dallas||W 31-14|
|WC||NY GIANTS||- 3||Atlanta||W 24-2|
|DIV||NY Giants||+ 8.5||GREEN BAY||W 37-20|
|NFC||NY Giants||+ 2||SAN FRANCISCO||W 20-17 (ot)|
WC = Wild Card
DIV = Divisional Playoff
NFC = NFC Championship Game
New York Giants Pointspread Notes: The NFC champs roll into Super Bowl XLVI on a season-best five-game ATS (against the spread) winning streak and note that the Jints are a composite 7-2 versus the vig when placed in the underdog role and that includes outright wins against Philadelphia, New England, Dallas, the New York Jets, Green Bay and San Francisco with the latter two games occurring in this year's post-season march. Overall, the Giants are 11-8 ATS this season and they're 77-60-1 against the odds under Coughlin (a .562 winning rate). In the past 10 years, the Giants are a scintillating 8-2 vig-wise in playoffs/Super Bowls.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
|#1||New England||- 7||MIAMI||W 38-24|
|#2||NEW ENGLAND||- 6.5||San Diego||W 35-21|
|#3||BUFFALO||+ 7||New England||L 31-34|
|#4||New England||- 6.5||OAKLAND||W 31-19|
|#5||NEW ENGLAND||- 7.5||NY Jets||W 30-21|
|#6||NEW ENGLAND||- 6.5||Dallas||L 20-16|
|#8||PITTSBURGH||+ 3||New England||L 17-25|
|#9||NY Giants||+ 10||NEW ENGLAND||L 20-24|
|#10||New England||+ 2.5||NY JETS||W 37-16|
|#11||NEW ENGLAND||- 17||Kansas City||W 34-3|
|#12||New England||- 3||PHILADELPHIA||W 38-20|
|#13||NEW ENGLAND||- 20||Indianapolis||L 31-24|
|#14||New England||- 7.5||WASHINGTON||L 34-27|
|#15||New England||- 7||DENVER||W 41-23|
|#16||NEW ENGLAND||- 7||Miami||L 27-24|
|#17||NEW ENGLAND||- 10||Buffalo||W 49-21|
|DIV||NEW ENGLAND||- 14||Denver||W 45-10|
|AFC||NEW ENGLAND||- 7||Baltimore||L 23-20|
New England Patriots Pointspread Notes: The AFC champs don't own any really long pointspread winning streaks this year as the Patriots covered three in a row beginning in Week 10 but they head into Super Sunday off that spread"L" in the AFC Championship Game two weeks ago. Note that the Pats are 9-8 against the Las Vegas prices when in the favorite' role this 2011 season and - as you can see by the chart - the key chalk covers came against the New York Jets, San Diego, Philadelphia and Denver (twice). Overall, New England is 10-8 spreadwise this year and the Pats are 121-87-5 ATS under boss-man Belichick (a .582 winning percentage). Finally, in the past 10 years the Patriots are 9-11-1 spreadwise in post-season action.
NOTE: More Super Bowl 46 coverage plus College Hoops too in the next edition of Jim Sez.
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