Super Bowl prediction: Patriots over Giants

Kevin Wandra's picture

The mother of all sporting events, the Super Bowl, is only two days away. Some pundits say the undefeated New England Patriots will win in a blowout; others feel the New York Giants will stun the Patriots.

Here is my breakdown, position by position, of the two teams:


New England’s Tom Brady is having the best season ever for a quarterback, and he leads the highest-scoring offense in NFL history. Brady has been limping on a high ankle sprain in practice, but even when he’s at less than 100 percent, he’ still better than the vast majority of quarterbacks in the league. He already has tasted success in the Super Bowl, having won three titles in three tries.

New York’s Eli Manning has silenced many naysayers — well, at least for the time being — with an exceptional postseason in which he has yet to throw an interception. He’s coming off the biggest victory of his career, 23-20 over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game. Manning is on the verge of solidifying his status as the face of the franchise.

Advantage: New England (big-time)

Running back:

New England’s Laurence Maroney has come on strong in the postseason, wearing down defenses with his hard-charging running style. He’s dangerous both inside and outside the tackles. Third-down back Kevin Faulk is a smart veteran, and has superb hands, giving Brady a reliable outlet.

New York has a nice one-two punch in Brandon Jacobs and rookie Ahmad Bradshaw. Jacobs runs with authority, and is a load to bring down. Bradshaw is a change-of-pace back who is elusive and shifty in the open field.

Advantage: Tie.

Wide receiver:

New England has the top receiving corps in the league. Randy Moss is a threat to score every time he touches the ball, Wes Welker is the NFL’s best, most sure-handed slot receiver, and Donte Stallworth can make big plays with his speed. You also cannot forget about Jabar Gaffney, New England’s fourth receiver, who is talented enough to start for many teams.

New York’s Plaxico Burress poses a match-up problem with his size (6-5, 232), and he’s Manning’s go-to receiver. He had a monster game against Green Bay in the NFC championship game, catching 16 passes for 194 yards. Amani Toomer is an aging veteran, but he has gained Manning's trust as a receiver who runs precise routes and fights for the ball. Rookie Steve Smith has made some big catches for New York in the postseason.

Advantage: New England

Tight end:

New England’s Ben Watson is often overlooked, what with the Patriots' potent receiving corps. He’s a big, strong tight end who can picks up yards after the catch. When Kyle Brady, a 280-pounder, is on the field, he’s like an extra offensive lineman.

Kevin Boss has filled in admirably for injured star Jeremy Shockey. In fact, some pundits feel Manning has played better without Shockey, to whom Manning would often force the ball. Michael Matthews, a 270-pounder, is a punishing blocker.

Advantage: New England

Offensive line:

New England left guard Logan Mankins is one of the most underrated players in the league. He’s a tough, physical blocker who is a sound technician, as is center Dan Koppen, who is quick and can reach the second level with ease. Left tackle Matt Light has nimble feet, and he has done a terrific job of protecting Brady’s blindside. New England’s other starters, right guard Stephen Neal and right tackle Nick Kaczur, are strong and tough.

Like New England, New York’s top offensive lineman is a left guard, Rich Seubert, who is light on his feet and good with his hands. He has a sprained knee, an injury he suffered against Green Bay, and might not play, which would be a big loss for the G-Men. New York’s other guard, Chris Snee, is feisty and plays all out. Left tackle Davis Diehl, a converted guard, has exceeded expectations at left tackle, and center Shaun O’Hara is the leader of New York’s offensive line. Right tackle Kareem McKenzie (6-6, 327) is huge, and he moves well for a man his size.

Advantage: New England

Defensive line: Arguably the best defensive end tandem in the league, Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan, and vastly underrated Justin Tuck, who plays both end and tackle, were the primary reasons the Giants led the league in sacks this season. All three have proven they can put immense pressure on quarterbacks. Defensive tackles Barry Cofield and Fred Robbins are OK, at best.

New England defensive ends Ty Warren and Richard Seymour and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork are three of the league’s best players at their respective positions. Each is proficient against both the pass and run. New England has perhaps the NFL’s most underrated defensive line.

Advantage: Tie.


New England’s starting linebackers — Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi, Junior Seau and Adalius Thomas — form the team’s oldest unit, but they are talented veterans who comprise the heart and soul of New England’s 3-4 defense. Each can make a game-altering play at any time.

The leader of New York’s defense is middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, who’s been a tremendous sideline-to-sideline tackler in the postseason. Kawika Mitchell is New York’s best pass-rushing linebacker, and Reggie Torbor is steady as the team’s strongside linebacker.

Advantage: New England.


New England’s Asante Samuel is one of the NFL’s top ball-hawking cornerbacks, a player who is always around the ball. Ellis Hobbs is an undersized cornerback who is at his best in zone coverage. Strong safety Rodney Harrison, despite his age (35), still is an intimidating hitter and a difference-maker. Free safety James Sanders won’t wow anybody with his talent, but he’s capable at the other safety spot.

New York’s weakness is its secondary, but their defensive backfield is not devoid of talent. Rookie cornerback Aaron Ross has shined in his rookie season, and Corey Webster has been a bright spot for the Giants in the playoffs. Gibril Wilson is an active, big-hitting free safety. Strong safety James Butler is New York’s s weakest link in the secondary; he’s made his fair share of mistakes.

Advantage: New England

Special teams:

New England’s Stephen Gostkowski isn’t known for having a strong leg. He’s more accurate from short range. Punter Chris Hanson doesn’t having a booming leg, either. Welker can make plays as New England’s punt returner. New England's coverage units have been adequate.

The Giants’ Domenik Hixon is top return man playing in the Super Bowl. Kicker Lawrence Tynes lacks leg strength, but he did, however, come through with a game-clinching field goal against Green Bay after missing two in the fourth quarter. Jeff Feagles isn’t one of the league’s top punters, but he’s adept at delivering kicks inside the opponent’s 10-yard line. New York’s coverage units have been fair.

Advantage: New York.

Overall position-by-position total: New England 6, New York 1.

New England was my preseason pick to win the Super Bowl. I’m sticking with New England to win and make history, 31-17 over the Giants.

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