David Kirkpatrick

February 2, 2008

Super Bowl XLII preview

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:06 pm

Here we are a bit more than twenty four hours before kickoff and all is excitement and questions.

Will the game be another thriller like these teams came up with in the last game of the season? Will the Giants, and Eli, be overawed at the sheer spectacle? Is the current line of New England by 12 points to high? Too low? And about the Patriots, is Tom Brady’s ankle ready to handle full speed contact?

Here’s some of the facts. The line opened at the Pats by 13 1/2 and has only drifted down to the Pats by 12. The over/under is 54. When the ball is finally kicked off sometime after 6 pm EST tomorrow there’s a decent chance of rain, and the temperature should start in the high-50s and drop a bit from there as the game goes on.

I’ve actually managed to avoid a lot of overwrought hype these last couple of weeks, but a few things made it through the stranglehold this political cycle has on my imagination.

One is Sports Illustrated’s Peter King pointed out in the first game the Pats were playing with many second-teamers on the O-line. Even so the Giants pass rush really didn’t get to Brady. Even on plays where he was hurried or was knocked down, Brady threw for a couple of touchdowns and almost 200 yards. And that was when he was under duress. The Pats’ O-line is completely healthy for the big game.

Even though Brady looked OK in low speed, no contact practices, an ankle sprain can’t be discounted. He’s not exactly mobile, and the protection is so good he doesn’t need to be very often. But QBs use their legs for more than running. If his accuracy is affected at all, that could be a big deal. The expectation is the Pats will be able to run roughshod over the Giants somewhat suspect defensive secondary. Add an errant Brady to that plan and turnovers will occur. The Giants will most likely need to win the turnover battle (maybe decisively) to win this game.

Do the Giant’s have a real chance to win the game? Absolutely. And the real winner will be football fans because blowout or thriller, as many talking heads have pointed out over and over and over and … , we’re going to witness history. Either an NFL team going 19-0 for the first time, or what will be considered arguably the greatest upset in Super Bowl history.

But wait — I don’t think this will affect the Pats Sunday but may have huge future implications win or lose. Just in time for the pre-game media blitz, Spygate reared its head. The big news is Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter wants to look into the NFL’s antitrust exemption and more importantly, how the league handled Spygate early in the season.

In a bit lesser news, but maybe even more important considering Specter plans to have individuals testify before a Senate committee, is this story from ESPN. A one-time Patriots video assistant is intimating he has more information, and maybe physical evidence, about New England’s video taping policies dating long before the Spygate-era. If so, the Pats might face even more, and you’d have to guess much more stiff, sanctions from Commissioner Goodell and the league.

But that story is for another day. Get your snacks lined up and get ready for football history. Maybe a great game will break out all this hype and intrigue.

(Update: I hate to muck up a Super Bowl post with more Spygate, but this isn’t going to go away. Here’s a new ESPN story stating the Pat’s may have illegally taped the Rams’ final practice before Super Bowl XXXVI. If true, whether the tapes helped in any significant fashion or not is a moot point. New England’s achievements beginning with that first Super Bowl will always be tainted.)

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