Giants at Patriots: Revisiting Nick’s Super Bowl XLII Nightmares

Posted: November 2, 2011 by ndbohlen in NFL, Opinion, Patriots, Prediction
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Mike: Forget what I said last week. My hatred for the Patriots, and the entire entity that is New England, far exceeds my love of predicting games correctly. Praise the Tiki-Wiki Gods of Football! And before you even think to close your response to this with a “Fuck you,” let me just say, “No, Nick. Fuck you.”

Whereas I thought bye weeks were boring because I had to listen to Rich Cimini break down the pros and cons of sleeping past 9:00 AM on a weekday for a team’s psyche, I now know that this was probably the best week of football yet: the Jets didn’t lose, their players weren’t hurt, and Tom Brady closed the game getting sacked, stripped of the football, and downed for a safety. I will sacrifice 7,000 unworn (read: virgin) UGGs to honor the Tiki-Wiki Gods and then commit mail fraud by intercepting all of Brady’s residual checks that come from my spending spree on UGG boots. I hope Brady is so flaccid after this Sunday’s beat down at Heinz Field that he can’t even get it up for a cheer-me-up bone with his goddamn supermodel wife.

Ah, but I digress. There’s another game this weekend, is there not? I should probably – PATS SUCK! – write about that game and give a prediction. Giants at Foxboro. This is a big test for Big Blue and a big test for TV commentators who want to make a big deal out of the possibility of the Pats losing back-to-back to an “Against the Odds” New York Football Giants team. Oh, and it’s a Super Bowl rematch – how did that one turn out again?

Both of these teams are coming off of less-than-impressive games. Since Tom Caughlin seems to be in the middle of a never-ending aneurysm, I doubt the mid-week speeches will come across as any more or less urgent. Belichick might be a different story. My sources tell me that his sweatshirt sleeves get shorter and more torn with every time he is forced to show emotion. (Note: before his psychiatrist showed him this helpful trick for channeling his rage, he used to volunteer on organic farms and slaughter pregnant animals and eat the fetus… they called him the Abortion Veterinarian. True story.) But the objects of their respective ire will definitely be different: the Giants played down to their opponent’s level, which is a motivation problem, and the Pats were simply outperformed. In the words of Bill Belichick, “We had to do a better job in every area,” adding under his breath “I fucking hate sweatshirt sleeves.”

Unlike the Steelers, the Giants and Pats don’t have the same amount of recent contests to look back at.. and the ones we do have are pretty far apart in terms of importance – the Preseason Week 4 “Play Well or You’re Cut” Bowl, presented by the High School Coach Recruiting Association for the Un-Pro, and, of course,  Super Bowl XLII, presented by every American corporation. Oddly enough both of those contests were incredibly low-scoring. (I’m ignoring the last regular season game of the 16-0 Pats season, which was against the Giants but had no relevance to postseason seeding for either team). So I’m going to ignore the history of this match-up altogether and look at the stats.

Although the Giants don’t break into the top-5 circle of almost any statistical category, especially defensive ones, they are fourth in passing yards. And since the NFL has a great reputation of copying game plans, we can expect the Giants to fully utilize their DVR this week to identify the points of weakness the Steelers exploited. (Unless their wives canceled their recordings in favor of a CSI: Miami marathon… those bitches.) The Steelers laid out a pretty clear method of how to pick apart the New England secondary; they were so effective that Brady hit over 60% of his passes on Sunday and still lost. Brady would have to play at Week 1 and Week 2 levels to overcome the faults of the Patriots defense. This could actually happen considering Brady’s first televised clinic was against Miami in Week 1, and last week the Giants almost played  as poorly as Sparano’s Misfit Mafia.

Another consideration: the “Bye-Week Blues.” As you mentioned last week, teams coming off the bye were 3-9. Now their record stands at 8-10. (Oh, by the way, the Pats were the only losing team that came off a bye this week… just a reminder.) The Giants avoided those blues not by playing well but by playing a horrendous team. Let’s be honest: the Giants had a two-week bye with an intense, televised practice in the middle. But the star of that “practice” was Eli Manning, who had one of the top QB stat-lines of the week: 31-45, 349 yds, 2 TDs, 0 INT. For a man who threw 22 INTs last year to toss 11 TDs and only 3 INTs in a five-game span is a remarkable turnaround, and all three of those picks were in a single game. No less, he’s doing this without the first tier receiving corps that suited up at the beginning of preseason. However, Roethlisberger passed over fifty times on Sunday. I don’t know if any other QB, including Eli Manning, has the skill or luck to go for 90+ passes over two games without an interception. Yet again, even Belichick’s defensive guru-ship is strained trying to teach the Pats no-name secondary how to cover routes.

New England hasn’t been knock-down dominant at home as they were in previous years. They have played three games at home, scoring 35 points against the Chargers, 30 points against the Jets, and 20 against Dallas. In each of those games, Brady’s passing yards trended downward dramatically: 423, 321, and then 281. Tony Romo out-threw Brady in their contest, tossing the ball for 317 yards. Small margin of yards, yes, but large margin in terms of quality of QB. Romo actively sabotaged his team’s only chances of winning and he accumulated more yards for his team than last year’s MVP?!

The Vegas line as of Monday favored the Pats by 9 points. Nonsense. Home field and injuries do not account for such a blow-out line. The Giants this year are overcoming every injury and beating good and healthy teams (the Seattle and Washington losses completely baffle me). Vegas clearly thinks that Brady will wreck the Giant’s mediocre defense. Usually when a team allows the same amount of yards on average that Brady has thrown for in his worst game this year, it’s a recipe for disaster.

This one is going to be a shootout. And with Hakeem Nicks back in the picture, both these teams will probably score on every drive. I’m giving the over/under of 3-and-outs at… 3.5.

Giants pull it off (and finish on Brady’s face), 35-30.

Nick: First of all, get your facts straight. Tom Brady was not downed for a safety, Troy Polamalu took a page out of A-Rod’s book on how to cheat (“Chapter 1: How to Inject Steroids into your Butt…and Like it”) and slapped the ball away.

Second, your Sacrificial UGGs Fantasy is preposterous. You’re too Jewish (and too poor, but who isn’t these days? #OWS!) to spend the requisite money for that kind of statement. And you’re way too short (your Judaism haunts you yet again!) to be able to attempt to cash checks made out to Tom Terrific (yes, that’s how he signs his checks).

Third, Tom Brady is NEVER flaccid. He always walks around pitching a tent charitable enough for me and you to take refuge under when we’re finally penniless (fingers crossed!). In fact, when he retires and starts taking Viagra (only bitches take Cialis), he’s going to call doctors when his erection doesn’t last longer than four hours. Let’s just move on before this gets any weirder.

Consider yourself lucky that I had braced myself for your inevitable Super Bowl XLII reference. You’re playing with fire by bringing up one of my most horrifying sports memories. Between watching the drawn-out demise of the 2011 Red Sox (only one of the most soul-crushing collapses in baseball history), the NBA lockout (how hard can it be to divide $2 billion so that everybody is happy?), last week’s loss to the Steelers (I’m still softly whimpering curled up in the fetal position), and my lack of access to a TV to get my sports fix (neck…so itchy!), my fragile mind is teetering on the precipice of a complete and utter mental breakdown. One more casual mention of David Tyree and I’m liable to go Homer Simpson on your ass.

Sorry, what were we talking about again? Oh, right. Giants-Pats. Not a favorable match-up for the Patriots secondary the way Eli has been playing lately. He has been a top five QB this year since he cut down on the turnovers, and he has carried the Giants through seven games – maybe he finally feels like he isn’t being overshadowed by Peyton, either on the field or on camera. Still, I feel like he’s due for a few Manning faces after a couple of picks.

To back that up, he actually won’t have Hakeem Nicks on Sunday (maybe you shouldn’t get that research position – too soon?), or if he does, Nicks will not be at full strength after injuring his hamstring late in the game last week. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw is also doing his best stanky leg impression (you’re welcome). So neither the leading receiver nor the leading rusher for the Giants have been practicing this week. That’s almost as exciting as how much candy I have in my house because we didn’t get any trick or treaters on Halloween. (I guess that’s what happens when you leave the lights off.)

Besides, I’m going to my bread and butter and asking, Who have the Giants played to make me believe they’re good enough to beat the Patriots? Even though they are 5-2, their only impressive win was a 27-24 victory over Buffalo. Their next best win is a 29-16 win over the Eagles – and that was when the Eagles were terrible. Other than that, they lost to the Redskins (and a now benched Rex Grossman), they beat a pathetic Rams teams, got a lucky break on a terrible call to barely overcome the woeful Cardinals, and lost at home to the Seahawks’ lethal QB combination of Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst (in case you’re wondering, no, two back-ups do not equal one starting quarterback). You covered their game against a winless Miami team that is almost as good at choking away fourth quarter leads as LeBron James. All in all, this team could easily be 3-4. That’s what you call “overcoming every injury and beating good and healthy teams?” Are you serious? Maybe lay off the crack-cocaine for your next game preview, Mike.

Their defense is giving up over 350 yards a game, and that’s against the lesser competition I just listed. Do you think they have any chance of stopping Tom Brady at Foxboro? The man – sorry, the Legend – has not lost at home since 2006. That’s FIVE FREAKING YEARS (“FREAKIN’ YE-AHS,” if you’re from Boston). And you dare to question their dominance at home? You realize that they won all three of those games, correct? And that they won by 14 and 9 in the first two? (By the way, that was the Jets they beat by nine points.) Whatever. I won’t let you bait me into continuing this angry tirade with some stupid argument about how Brady couldn’t throw for 400 yards in three straight home games against quality opponents.

Does that mean I’m confident headed into this game? No, of course not! I’m a completely neurotic, probably homicidal nut case terrified of losing two in a row heading into the Meadowlands MetLife Stadium (“the Meadowlands” has such a better ring to it – why must you ruin my sentences, corporate sponsorship?!).

Even so, I think Belichick and the Patriots are going to be pissed off after getting their own manhood served to them with a side of ketchup, and thus will come out firing on all cylinders against the Giants. On offense, anyway. As for the defense, even in getting dominated by Ben Rapeslisberger and the Steelers, the Pats stood strong in the red zone and only allowed 23 points (plus two on the bogus safety). I think they’ll be able to come up with a couple of big turnovers and hold Eli and Co. at bay.

You can rest a little easier knowing the line has shifted a half point to -8.5 Patriots, but just know a nine point victory wouldn’t surprise me.

Final Score: Patriots 31, Giants 24

So much for trying not to jinx my own team. Again. Sigh.

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