Sure the New England Patriots were 13-3, but as the old adage goes: there are lies, damn lies and statistics. And in this case, that 13-3 record is lying, big time.
If you take a look around the NFL at the end of the season, there were 10 teams of any significance this year. They were, in no particular order: Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans and the New England Patriots.
So let’s take a look at who the Patriots really beat, or beat up on this year. Of those teams listed above, who did they play? The Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants. That’s it, just two teams of any significance in this past 2011-12 NFL season. And how did the Patriots do in those two games you might ask? They lost, both!!
So they were 13-1 against the dregs of the NFL, and 0-2 against teams that matter. Hmm, so what does that tell us? The Patriots are not nearly as good as the Las Vegas sportsbook have them made out to be, as why else are the Patriots 3-point favorites??
And look what they’ve done in the playoffs. They hammered a Denver team that is led by a great story in Tim Tebow, but not a very good quarterback. Yes, he’s had success, but that will be short-lived. A story for another day. Then the Patriots edged out the Baltimore Ravens, but that was more the Ravens beating themselves than New England winning. Missed play calls, a dropped winning touchdown and a missed tying field goal were key components of that win.
So now the Patriots move on to Superbowl XLVI in Indianapolis, Sunday, February 5th, starting at 6:30pm ET. They are a good team, with one of the best coaches of all time and one of the best quarterbacks of all time. But that and the schedule is what has made the Patriots this year. They have a very good offensive line, very average running game, a stud of a tight end in Rob Gronkowski, and a great inside receiver in Wes Welker.
On the defensive side, they have the worst pass defence in the NFL this season. They are pretty good against the run, but the New York Giants throw the ball, not run it. Unlike the Broncos and Ravens whose strengths were running the ball, the Giants present a lot of matchup problems for the Patriots, on both sides of the ball.
Brady will struggle at times to deal with the NFL’s best defensive line, especially when they can pass rush. And Eli Manning will be able to throw the ball down the field with impunity, with his two big play receivers, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. And don’t forget the Giants have a very good 3rd receiver in Mario Manningham.
Bottom line is that the game should be close early on, but the ongoing pressure of the Giants front four will slowly get to Brady, and the ongoing deep threats and crossing patterns of the Giants receivers will make for a very long day for New England.
Our Superbowl Handicapping:
New York Giants 31
New England Patriots 24