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Super Bowl XLII
NEW YORK GIANTS vs NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Before digging in to Super Bowl 42, let me make two important points. One concerns the bye week and the other concerns the game played between these two teams to end the regular season. Let's start with the game these two played back on December 29th to end the 2007-2008 regular season. You simply can't use that game as a comparison when handicapping this one. For starters, even during an NFL regular season, what happens in the first game between two teams is not necessarily an indication of what will happen in the next game. But this particular game, well, it was extraordinary.
In that game, you had a team, the Patriots, trying to become the first undefeated team since the 72 Dolphins and the first to go 16-0. So, for the Pats, it meant a piece of history. But the outcome had no affect on where the Pats would be spending their playoffs. Likewise, the game meant nothing to the Giants. Yes, the Giants decided not to rest their starters. A decision that probably helped them get to the Super Bowl. Yet, despite the fact that both teams apparently went all out, it's still not an indication of the actual difference between the two. For the Giants and Eli Manning, it was a free shot. Had they gotten blown out, everyone would have said, well, they really didn't care about the game. Or, they went thru the motions. The pressure was squarely on the Pats. The Giants got to play that game as loose as can be. They got to take some chances they would never take in a "real" game and simply got to play pressure free football. A game like that is completely different from the biggest game most of those players will ever play in, the Super Bowl.
Next, let's talk about the bye week. This could be a killer for the Giants. I think the bye week favors New England here. While both teams are riding a momentum wave, perhaps it's more true in the case of the Giants. They followed up the season ending game with the Pats with 3 consecutive weeks of playoff football, on the road. It's like a snowball rolling down hill, getting bigger and bigger. The momentum they built in the three playoff games and the season ender with the Pats would have carried over into the Super Bowl without a doubt had they played immediately. With the bye, there's the potential for a team like the Giants to cool down.
It's happened many times over the history of the Super Bowl. The bye week favors a team like the Pats. They have been there before. They have seen the media circus. They have seen the hoopla. For a guy like Tom Brady, Super Bowls are almost becoming routine. The bye week definitely worries me as it pertains to the Giants and their ability to continue this run. The Pats are the more likely of the two to be able to simply flip a switch and turn it on.
Having said that, I'm going to now proceed to make a case for the New York Giants to cover this number, and possibly win this game straight up. When I looked at the Packer/Giant game last week, I didn't see a lopsided game. Seems like 90% of what I read last week prior to that game, suggested the Giants had no chance. I disagreed, and well, here we go again. Same deal this time around. Virtually no one gives the Giants a chance to win this game, though a few more than last week like them to cover.
The Giants deserve to be in this game big time. Lots of excuses have been made for why the Giants are here. The Cowboys didn't show up. Brett Favre had a bad game. But guess what folks. Favre and the Cowboys both showed up. Both wanted to win. Both were beaten, and made to look bad by the Giants. The Giants are here because they are one of the most balanced teams in the NFL, with talent in most key areas on both sides of the ball.
The Giants have two fantastic and very diverse running backs. They have a QB in Manning that's really coming into his own playing just about flawless football thru these playoffs. They have a pass rush 2nd to none in the NFL. They have some very good receivers and perhaps the best big play receiver in football in Plaxico Burress.
Special teams? How about a Hall of Fame Punter in Jeff Feagles. How about their return game. Anyone notice how many drive the Giants started from at least the 40 yard line against the Packers?
The Super Bowl and I, are the same age. So, yeah, I've seen quite a few Super Bowls. I've seen quite a few games where the pointspread was 12 or more. In just about all of those games, it was virtually impossible to make a case for the dog winning the game straight up, much less even covering. That's simply not the case here.
Looking at our yards per point numbers for both teams on the road this year we see the 10-1 Giants with a 14 on offense and a 17 on defense for a total of +3. Those numbers are good, but not great.
The Pats weigh in with a 10 on offense, which is spectacular, but a very mediocre 14 on defense, for a total of +4. That defensive number is where the Giants chances come in. The Giants will be able to move the ball, and will be able to put the ball in the end zone. So too, obviously, will the Pats. While the Giants may or may not be able to match them score for score, the cover should always be in reach.
I anticipated a break out Patriot performance in one of their two playoff games. A total blowout. Domination. It didn't happen. Many suggest the change of venue, the good weather in Arizona, will set up that break out performance. We shall see. But you have to handicap these games based on the numbers. The Patriots are a great team. No selling them short here. But the numbers say the Giants can make a game of this. The numbers say the difference between these two is less than the posted line. So, we'll play it that way.
Keep in mind that this is just another game. This is just one selection over the course of the season, and doesn't warrant any additional wager size. It's just another game.
We'd advise taking +14 here. This game opened at 14 and was quickly bet down to where it now stands at 12 or 12.5. Watch the line. The Patriot money is bound to come in and push the number higher by kick off. The way it stands now, and the way we'll post it here a week before the game, is a point and a half buy laying -140, however we'd anticipate being able to lower the juice by the end of the week.
3* Giants +14 -140
The Patriots haven't been blowing teams out in the first half over the last 8 games, including their two playoff games. We cashed a nice 4* ticket on the Giants in the first half over the Cowboys a couple of weeks ago and we're going to come right back and back them in the first half again here. The Patriots have won just one first half by more than 7 points over their last 8 games, and that was against the Dolphins. They lost one, were tied twice, with the other margins being 3, 4, 3 and 5. Had you given the Giants +7 in the first half in each of their last 8 games, they would have covered all the games except one.
3* Giants +7 FIRST HALF
Playoff games rated from a low of 1* to a high of 7*
Playoff Record 10-4 OVERALL
1* winners includes a +130 money line play
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