Well, here we are. It's time to make my pick as a G-men fan. And as the title says, the ride ends either way on Sunday. Either the amazing run by the Pats ends in disappointment... the kind of disappointment rarely ever felt by a pro team. Or the Giants run ends in mixed feelings... mixed because who really thought they were going this far? Giants fans who tell you they knew this was going to happen are lying or are delusional. This team was good, yes, but Super Bowl champs? They weren't even the best in their division!
I've heard a few people say that if the game was played the week after the title games, then they might have picked the Giants. And I think that's a very good point. With only a week to prepare, one would think the Pats wouldn't be as ready, plus we all know something truly was wrong with Brady's ankle. He didn't practice much last week, he had a boot on, the media was being restricted from seeing things by the gestapo that is the Patriots coaching staff. It all added up to there really being a problem that this organization was arrogant enough to think it could hide. And it sorta did, mainly because everyone loves Tom Brady and thinks Bill Belichick is a "genius." Whatever.
Right after the Giants beat Green Bay, I remember think they had no chance but at least they'd be in the Super Bowl. And I remember also thinking we now had two weeks to all talk ourselves into the idea that the Giants had a chance. You sit around long enough and you begin to convince yourself of strange things. And as a Giants fan who has seen this team progress, it gets even easier.
I wasn't sure they would beat Tampa. But once they did, and it was clear this team was coming together and Eli looked like a different man after winning a playoff game, I actually believed they could beat Dallas. And they did. And then after that I knew they were good enough to beat Green Bay. And they did. But the Patriots?
The Pats absolutely smoked the Cowboys this season and the Cowboys smoked the Packers. By transitive properties, that doesn't give the Giants much hope. However, the Giants do slot in there above the Cowboys because they knocked off Dallas and they lost by only 3 to New England in that much-talked about game on Dec 29.
The one thing the Giants have going for them is that they're not afraid of New England. Well, that and they are underdogs so they can just go out there and chuck it like they did on Dec 29. When the Giants were last in the Super Bowl, after the 2000 season, I remember a number of analysts picking them to win. I'd say something like 60% of the talking heads were picking New York. The Ravens had no offense to speak of and the Giants had won the NFC title game something like 41-0 over Minnesota. So they looked good. And then Ray Lewis and the Baltimore defense punched them in the mouth and they never stood back up, getting trounced 34-7.
This time, though, the Giants aren't going in thinking they're the favorites or hearing very many people pick them. And I think that's good. Because they don't have any expectations to live up to. If they lose, they lost to the best team ever. If they win, though, well, that's hard to fathom, even for me.
I could come up with ways the Giants could win but the fact is, they basically need to play a perfect game and hope the Pats are off their game, which I cannot imagine they will be in the Super Bowl. The Giants did play them tough in December -- and still lost. Eli threw four TDs but he threw one killer pick and that essentially sealed it. He cannot do that on Sunday. No turnovers at all. If the Giants do that and play out of their minds again, then maybe they can pull this off.
Unfortunately, though, I don't see all these "ifs" happening under the worldwide bright lights of the Super Bowl. If you have a big game to win and you've got Tom Brady on one side and Eli Manning on the other.... well, make it that simple and who do you like?
I will of course be pulling hard-core for my Giants on Sunday and I genuinely do think that if they get a few breaks early on, they could make this a hell of an entertaining game. But when an 18-0 team has only one hurdle left to be perfect and they have the Brady and Belichick combo, is it conceivable that they'll let it slip away?
I don't think so.
Patriots 31, Giants 27