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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Super Bowl Observations

1. Tom Brady was walking in NYC yesterday. Okay, so it did look like he had a cast on his leg, but he was walking and didn't look in noticeable pain. In contrast, Philip Rivers had athroscopic surgery last week and then played in a game, and he was in pain. Brady has two weeks to mend, and the bet here is that he will.

2. Criticism of LaDanian Tomlinson is Misplaced and, Well, Wrong. LT did the right thing by taking himself out of the game on Sunday. Have you ever had a sprained MCL? I did, and when I took steps it felt like my knee was going to explode. I had trouble stepping, let alone running through the offensive line and having 11 angry men trying to maul me every time I touched the ball. What LT did was courageous -- he shed any pretenses of vanity and made an unselfish decision. Others would have succumbed to some stupid macho ethic that you have to be willing to cripple yourself for the team even if you can hardly move, and who are you really benefiting? Had LT remained in the game, he would have stunk the joint out, he knew it, and he yielded to teammates who were able to perform better. Before you're quick to jump on Tomlinson, recall the story of Blaine Bishop, who some believe cost the Eagles the NFC title several years back by deciding to stay in a game. Read about that here.

3. Before We Elegize Brett Favre Too Much. . . I respect Brett Favre and think he's an all-timer. I also think that the football media, particularly former players, went too far when they said he was the best of all time. Many said that after he set records this year, and they were plain wrong. Why? Because of what I call the Packers "SFI" syndrome, standing for the "Silly Favre Interception" syndrome. Last week, I told a friend who's a Giant fan that the Giants had a good shot because there was a good chance Favre would throw a silly interception (remember the one against the Eagles in the playoffs a few years back?). He did just that. That tendency puts him a level down from the upper echelon of all-time greats, led by Joe Montana.

4. It's Become Fashionable to Ding the Giants' Offense, But. . . Did you notice that they held the ball for 2/3 of the game on Sunday? Yes, the Giants' defense was outstanding, but they had much more rest than the frequently cramping Packer defense, which suffered precisely because it got little rest on Sunday. The Giants controlled the ball, and I submit that if they have the ball for that much time against the Patriots, they could win the Super Bowl.

5. If You Give Bill Belichick Two Weeks. . . Yes, I've written before that he probably could map out a plan to take al-Qaeda and perhaps even find Osama bin Laden. Somehow, some way, Belichick will figure out how to exploit the Giants' overmatched secondary. He will pick on the backups and particularly R.W. McQuarters and try to have a field day. That's what they'll try to do, but. . .

6. If the Giants Control the Ball the Way They Did Against Green Bay. . .they will make the linebacking corp of New England (sans Adalius Thomas, who isn't that old) look ready for retirement.

7. Is Eli Manning a Championship Quarterback? Absolutely. He's been mistake-free in the post-season and has played like a champion. I'd like to call out the sometimes sagacious Howard Eskin of WIP Radio in Philadelphia who, like me, has in his DNA a chip on his shoulder about NY teams (perhaps because NY fans usually condescend or diss Philadelphia). Eskin didn't think that Manning played that well against Green Bay and knocked his completion percentage. King, remember this -- the Giants dropped a lot of balls on Sunday. Eli was right on, and, yes, he outplayed Brett Favre.

8. What Will Happen in the Super Bowl? Who knows? Suffice it to say that the double-digit spread exists because of New England's experience, respect for Belichick's having two weeks to prepare, questions about the Giants' secondary and the fact that Tom Brady is due to play better than he has recently and Eli Manning is probably due to play worse. Still, the Giants' line play on both sides of the ball has been outstanding, and you win it in the trenches in the NFL. If the Giants' D-line continues to surge and put pressure on the QB, anything can happen. Not only can the Giants cover, they can win.


Anonymous Phil the Brit said...


Watching the Giants at work on Sunday night, I drew many of the conclusions you did.

Remember Super Bowl XXV against the Bills? The Giants kept the ball for forty minutes of the sixty in that game too to squeak out a one-point win.

Back then it was the Bills who were the offensive powerhouse, the hare to the Giants' tortoise.

Can history repeat itself? I think it can, with Otis Anderson reincarnated as Brandon Jacobs.

Whilst Jacobs' longest run all night might be five yards, his shortest will be three, and the Patriots will have to hit him hard on every play.

If Eli can do just enough to convert on third down and avoid turning the ball over, the tortoise will have its day once again.

12:01 PM  

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