When it comes to championship games, it always comes down to the team that plays the best defense – even in this day and age of the quarterback. Just ask Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
That’s why I have to go with the New York Giants over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XVLI.
Final score: Giants 33 Patriots 28
Here’s why: Though the Patriots are the sexier pick as Belichick and Brady go for their fourth ring together and the team is trying to play off the emotion surrounding Robert Kraft losing his wife, the Giants are the better team all-around. They have a running game, dynamite receivers, a top 5 quarterback AND a defense. Matchups make the difference is championship games and the Giants clearly have the upper hand in all categories.
Don’t get me wrong, the Patriots will make a game of it and it could come down to the final two possessions, but the Giants will come up with enough pressure on Brady to turn the tables. Throw in the fact that tight end Rob Gronkowski’s injury will put a dent in the Patriots’ offense and you have enough to give the Giants the edge in this one.
It should be a great game. That’s why everyone is split pretty much down the middle on predicting its outcome.
In fact, here’s the best prediction I could find:
Greg Easterbrook on ESPN.com has this prediction – Confusion about the new playoff overtime format reigns when the Giants onside kick to start overtime and the Patriots recover but run the wrong way. Final score: Giants 2 Patriots 0
Here are some highlights of picks we found at ESPN.com:
John Clayton: Patriots, 24-20
It’s hard to beat Tom Brady three times in a row at his game of comeback football in the fourth quarter. Although I worry about the Patriots’ defense, I think Brady and Bill Belichick will find a way to squeak out a victory.
Dan Graziano: Giants, 31-24
The Giants weren’t the best team in the NFL for most of this season, but they have been for the past six weeks. Eli Manning should torch an overmatched New England secondary. Frankly, the Giants’ past two opponents were tougher than this one.
Adam Schefter: Patriots, 27-16
The Giants are the better and more complete team. But they also have to figure out a way to beat Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the memory of Myra Kraft.
Ian O’Connor: Giants, 34-24
Four years ago, the Giants’ pass rush negated the talent difference between Tom Brady and Eli Manning. This time around, the pass rush is just as fierce, and there is no discernible talent difference between Brady and Manning. No David Tyree required in the rematch.
Jamison Hensley: Patriots, 31-20
Tom Brady didn’t play well in the AFC Championship Game, and he remembers losing to the Giants in the Super Bowl four years ago. A motivated Brady is a dangerous one. He will prove that you don’t need a defense to win a ring.
Matt Williamson: Giants, 28-24
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are difficult to pick against, but I don’t see this as a very good matchup for New England. Expect several big plays from the Giants’ wide receivers. I also think New York will pressure Brady well enough with only four pass-rushers, and its safeties and linebackers can do enough to slow down the Patriots’ middle-of-the-field passing attack, especially if Rob Gronkowski isn’t healthy.
Topics: Aaron Rodgers, Adam Schefter, Bill Belichick, Dan Graziano, Eli Manning, ESPN.com, Facebook, Green Bay Packers, Greg Easterbrook, Ian O'Connor, Jamison Hensley, John Clayton, Lombardiave.com, Matt Williamson, New England Patriots, New York Giants, Robert Kraft, Super Bowl XLVI, Tom Brady, Twitter