The argument for the Giants winning this game seems to boil down to the fact that they outplayed the Patriots for 3 quarters a month ago, but couldn’t close the deal; now they are playing much better (an arguable proposition), the Patriots are the same or have even regressed a bit (also arguable), therefore the Giants will be able to finish the job this time around. Even the most ardent Giant partisans seem to concede that at the very best, it will be a close game, and pin their hopes on the Giants making more big plays down the stretch and pulling out the win. However, what this analysis ignores is that the Patriots are at their very best in close games when the game is on the line. You can count on exactly one finger the number of big games in which the Patriots were outplayed late in the 4th quarter and let a tight game slip away. That one time obviously was last year’s AFCCG, and this year’s team was built with the express purpose of not allowing that situation to happen again. They proved that repeatedly this year–this was probably the best team since the ’03 edition in terms of managing “close and late” situations and doing enough to win. I do not believe this is entirely luck–I think there is a skill to it–and the Patriots are the best in these situations in today’s NFL. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that this is probably going to be a real nail-biter (these games just always turn out that way, right?), but again, even if the Giants are able to neutralize the Patriots obvious strengths and keep the game close, they are still going to need to overcome the Patriots’ less obvious but equally important strength of managing the 4th quarter to victory. It’s just too tall a task. Patriots 31, Giants 28.