By Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
So, it all comes down to this. One game out of hundreds this season to determine who holds aloft the Lombardi Trophy.
Should we have a bigger run-up to this contest? Is the magnitude sufficiently stated, or should we spend another week prepping?
No? Okay, then. Off we go…
Other Than That, How Was 2007? No matter what, at least this can’t become a replay of That Game. In case you missed it, here’s a link to a great piece by Bruce Allen written in February 2008 that summarized what he nailed as The Most Miserable 18-1 Season In History. While the Giants seem obsessed with the similarities to that season (peaking at the right time, for example), the Patriots seem more than happy to move on.
We’ll see which way works better. In any case, much, much different expectations this year.
Indiana And The Temple Of Doom: The Patriots might feel disappointed in having to play in Indianapolis. Not only does it lack the temperate climte of Miami or San Diego, New England hasn’t had a ton of success there over the years.
Well, different opponent, different Manning, different time of season. Who knows?
Speed Of Lightning, Roar Of Thunder: So who’s really the underdog in this thing? (Note: you can link to the theme song from “Underdog” here.) Despite losing the previous tilt this season, New England has been favored from the get-go. Still plenty of “no one believed in us” fodder for both sides, though, as several national media members have picked New York.
You ever get the feeling that no one knows anything? This seems like one of those games.
Moore Or Wes: So, who, if anyone, is going to come out of this thing a hero? Will it be an expected player, like receiver Wes Welker, or a surprise contributor, like rookie defensive back Sterling Moore?
Our thoughts? If the Patriots win, the MVP trophy will prove difficult to award to one person. Everyone from Tom Brady to Vince Wilfork to Zoltan Mesko will have to put in his best effort for New England to come out on top.
Do You Speak Trench? Brady needs time to throw; the Giants will do everything they can to disrupt that. This has been one of Matt Light’s best years at tackle. Word has it that Sebastian Vollmer has finally come back to play. Though the Patriots aren’t focusing on 2007, we’re sure Logan Mankins remembers his un-stellar performance during that game.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball…
What’s Love Got To Do With It? While most eyes will be on Wilfork, New England’s success may hinge more on what battery mates Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick are able to accomplish vs. New York’s tested front. If the Giants have success running the ball – something they haven’t focused on as much this year as in years past – then the letters XLVI will translate roughly to “Ugh” for Patriots fans.
Riding Coach: Sure, it’s a team game, but in the end, this might come down to a battle between two guys. Coach Bill Belichick has guided a 5-3 team on a 10-game winning streak; Coach Tom Coughlin has endured a 9-7 season (and numerous calls for his head while losing five of six games) to get his team playing their best at the right time.
Who has the best game plan? Who can adapt better during the contest?
There’s a game this weekend. Check it out.
Email Chris Warner for the last time this season at firstname.lastname@example.org