I've challenged Jeremy Fuchs, site editor for GiantsGab, a leading Giants blog, to a series of debates in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. Jeremy is a longtime New York sports fan who is looking forward to the Giants raising the Lombardi trophy one more time against the Pats.
Today's topic: Can the Giants defense stop the Patriots and Tom Brady?
That said, they're hot right now, and heading into Sunday, they've been playing their best football. But can they stop the Pats and their exciting offense?
They'll have no answer for Gronk and Hernandez. No team does. The Giants struggle against athletic tight ends, and got burned by Vernon Davis. They can only try to limit them.
They'll do that by pressuring Brady. JPP, Tuck and Osi can still get after the passer and do so regularly. JPP is a beast, and could win defensive player of the year. Osi is finally healthy and has looked terrific this postseason. Brady will be uncomfortable and that will lessen his work in the passing game.
Welker is always an issue, and his speed will be tough. The more pressure, the less time Welker has to get open. Pressure is key, as always.
The run game is solid with Law Firm and Woodhead. The Giants have been good against the run all season.
The Giants will give up points, for sure; the question is how much. Do they give up big plays? Probably not, but the Pats will move down the field. If the Giants pressure Brady, which I think they will, they will be fine. If not, a long day.
That said, the Giants defense is good at forcing turnovers, something they will do on Sunday. Give them 1 or two turnovers, and they'll be fine.
There will be points scored but the Giants defense is good enough to not make it crazy. The pass rush will step up and makes it hard for Brady. Once he starts to feel the stadium grass, he'll get trigger happy and things will work out very well for the Giants.
Obnoxious Boston Fan says: Most anyone over six knows that this point is the key to Sunday's game. If Tom Brady is standing firm in the pocket and able to find his receivers, this game could be over before Madonna's first wardrobe malfunction.
We're supposed to be scared of Osi Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Tuck and the rest of the Giants pass rush. That pressure - along with the lead in Asante Samuel's shoes - proved to be the difference in Super Bowl XLII. The Giants beat Brady down like he was at the wrong end of the Whack-A-Mole machine. Whenever Brady did get a pass off, Moss and Welker were smothered all day. Welker still fought his way to 11 catches in that game and Moss caught the would-be game-winner with 2:43 left. Now Welker has a mustache, so that makes him even tougher.
But Michael Strahan is selling subs these days. The most important and most overlooked part of this game is the Patriots' offensive line. It and New England's running game should give Brady enough cover to pass. They worked well enough to stave off the Ravens for most of the day in the AFC title game. And while Brady "sucked" in that affair, his biggest mistake was on the ridiculous go-for-it-all bomb he threw to Matthew Slater in triple-coverage that was tipped in the end zone. Brady had plenty of time on that one.
The Patriots offensive line is anchored by Matt Light and Logan Mankins, both of whom have distasteful memories of that night in Glendale. When asked about SB XLII this week: Mankins had a great answer: “That was four years ago. Next question.” The Pats O-Line has done an excellent job of protecting Brady all season and was ranked 9th overall in the NFL with just 32 sacks allowed in the regular season.
The Patriots are poised to exploit the Giants' secondary in this game. While the deep threat has been absent all season, Deion Branch should be open at least 15 or 20 yards downfield when necessary. The last time he played in a Super Bowl, Branch had 11 catches (sound familiar?) and walked off with MVP honors. And dare I even mention the name Ochocinco? He might even get three snaps in this one. You just never know.
We can't deny what happened on Nov. 6. The Giants held Brady in check. But remember Brady left the field with 1:36 to play after giving his team the lead at 20-17 on a 14-yard TD pass to Gronk.
The big issue for the Giants will be to either check and stop the Pats receivers and tight ends off the line - in an attempt to disrupt their timing - or just go full out against Brady with an aggressive blitzing style. I'm hoping the Giants try to pressure Brady and leave his receivers free to run their routes.
Which they should be able to do right to the Lombardi Trophy.
We've been there for every single snap this season during our in-game fan chats. Don't miss our chat this Sunday during the Boston.com virtual tailgate. The fun begins at 5:30 p.m. and ends ... As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page or e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter @realOBF. Thanks for reading. Pass the clicker.
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