Patriots Pursuing Perfection; Giants Lone Obstacle to History

A perfect NFL season has not been accomplished by a team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins went 14-0 in the regular season and then went on to win the Super Bowl. No team has ever gone undefeated since the schedule was expanded to 16 regular season games. That is, of course, until the New England Patriots did it this past season. A week from Sunday, the New England Patriots will be the first team in NFL history to complete a 19-0 season. In a matchup that has taken everyone (except New Yorkers) by surprise, the Patriots will be playing the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. As a Patriots fan, all I can say to Giants fans is, “Hey, you had a good run.” But no one can get in the way of fate, and the Patriots’ fate is to complete this season at 19-0. The Giants don’t stand a chance. Say what you want about the week 17 matchup between these teams in which the Giants almost ended the Patriots run at history, losing 38-35. If anything, that game in the final week of the season only adds to the likelihood that the Patriots will win. Why, you ask? Because Bill Belichick, the football genius, has now seen the Giants and knows exactly how to design the perfect game plan against them. True, the same can be said for Giants coach, Tom Coughlin. However, (and this is going to sound really biased but it is true) Belichick is just a smarter and more proven coach then Coughlin. Belichick is notorious for analyzing a team’s strengths and taking them away. The Giants strength is their running game. Brandon Jacobs is one of the best backs in the league, and this mammoth of a tailback has been a force on offense for the Giants. He manages to power through defenses to get four or five yards per carry, and drives seem to last forever when he is given the bulk of the carries. Belichick will take Jacobs out of the game, and he will force Eli Manning to throw the ball and make smart decisions. Although Manning has remained mistake-free throughout the playoffs thus far, this task will be far more difficult because the Patriots have a very smart and versatile defense, and their excellent defensive line will put pressure on Manning throughout the contest. One cause for concern would certainly be the defensive line of the Giants. As good as the defensive line for the Patriots is, the Giants’ is even better. This is not something that Belichick can do anything about except perhaps double team Michael Strahan or Osi Umenyiora. However he cannot do that on every play, so it will be up to the Patriots’ offensive line to rise to the challenge. Luckily for New England, they have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL that was fifth in the league with just 21 sacks allowed in 2007. In week 17, they held all-pro defensive end Michael Strahan to four tackles and no sacks, and held Pro Bowler Osi Umenyiora to no tackles, with just three assisted tackles. Needless to say, the New England offensive line needs to duplicate this performance in the Super Bowl if they are going to win. One thing the Patriots are certain to do in this game is pass. A lot. The Giants’ pass defense was 11th in the league this past season, allowing just over 207 yards per game. As a result of this, expect to see Tom Brady throw the ball often, and expect him to look for Randy Moss. A lot has been said over the past couple of weeks about how ineffective Moss has been in the playoffs, with Brady relying heavily on guys like Wes Welker and Kevin Faulk to get the yards that they need through the air. The Super Bowl is where Randy Moss will silence everyone and put up the numbers that we’ve been seeing from him all season. Why? Because the Patriots will finally have reliable conditions to play in, and Brady will be able to air it out to Moss, a far superior athlete than any of the secondary players of the Giants. In addition to Moss, Kevin Faulk will also have a big game. Faulk has been one of the most important pieces of New England’s perfect regular season, and came up clutch in a number of situations against the Chargers last Sunday. He is their go-to guy for third-and-short situations that arise, and Tom Brady loves dumping off a screen pass to Faulk and letting him scramble for the first. In a little over a week from today, the Patriots and Giants will be competing in one of the most analyzed Super Bowls ever. The Patriots are playing for a shot at history; the Giants are trying to be the team to get in their way and stun an entire nation. However, the Patriots will emerge from this game victorious to become the first team to ever go 19-0. They have far too many weapons and coaches that know how to use them effectively to lose this game. These Patriots are, without a doubt, one of the best teams to ever compete in the NFL, and their victory in Super Bowl XLII will only validate this fact.