Three days prior to kick-off, the ‘side number’ for this game looks pretty accurate to me … NE -12.5
e.g. if it’s -14.5 or more, I’m all over the G-men, going for their 11th consecutive cover on the road; if it’s -12 or lower, anytime prior to kick-off, I’m gonna have to hit the Pats, hard; and, if it stays between -12.5 and -14, that’s a very dicey call, either way, from where I’m perched, right now … i.e. in the catbird’s seat, +27.7 units on the NFL season to-date.
How have the Giants been able to mask their apparent weaknesses in the Defensive Secondary, against each of the Bays, in their playoff victories?
IMO, the ‘uncomplicated’ answer is … their Front 7, right now, is as good (read, as … super athletic, physical and fierce) as any group in the league, today, anchored by Strahan and propelled by young’ns Umenyiora, Tuck & Torbor (etc.) … as is their Running Game with the tandem backs combo, Bradshaw (speed) & Jacobs (power).
While I can see several different scenarios unfolding in this game … the one which gives me the most pause to tread lightly in assessing this match-up, right now, is the still uncertainty involved with that protective boot Tom Brady was wearing (unexpectedly?) last week, and the effect his injury has had on the amount of reps he’s taken, since then, with his usual ‘Gang of Marauders on Offense’ (i.e. re: the cohesiveness of their ‘spread’ & ‘hurry-up’ passing attack vs the Giants pass rush and their situational subs).
Giants defense prepares for dancing Brady
IMO, if Tom Brady is completely healthy, and in his customary rhythm with Moss, Welker, Faulk & Co., I don’t see New England scoring less than 35 pts in this game … which should be enough to win and get the cover, if the number stays where it’s at today (-12.5) and the Giants’ Special Teams don’t return any kicks for TDs …
but, if his timing is thrown off, by his inactivity since the Chargers’ game, even just a little bit, then there’s every possibility for the G-Men’s Front 7 to hold down the fort again, like they did against the respective Bays …
in which case …
it will then fall, once more, at the feet of the Pats’ veteran Defensive Unit, led by Bruschi, Vrabel, Seymour, Harrison and (my 2nd favourite defensive player in NFL history, Mr. Junior) ‘Old Man’ Seau … to play the type of “tough, physical, smash-mouth” football, they are capable of, in the Red Zone, as though this was, in fact, the FINAL GAME of their pro careers! …. hmmmmmm???
… and, thereby, avoid the (cruel?) hand-of-fate which befell the St. Louis Rams, Feb 3, 2002 (6 years ago, to the day) when, as very healthy 14-pt favorites, they succumbed to an upstart team, led by an inexperienced QB, who completed 16 of 27 passes that day – for 145 yards with 1 TD – and marched his team down the field for the game winning score, while being named Super Bowl MVP.
Which way will things play out this Sunday?
IMO, this group of Patriots will only go as far as Tom Brady’s health & Junior Seau’s heart can take them.
In the end, will it be enough?
Only (Father) time can truly tell … but, right now, it seems to me as though Destiny is calling out their names, Here & Now.