It’s easy to pick the Giants, and you can blame Tom Brady. Super Bowl XXXVI was supposed to be a blowout. The NFC champion St Louis Rams scored about a gazillion points a game, and Brady was still young and untested – a sixth-round draft pick who had no business leading his team to the Super Bowl. The score was tied with two minutes to go, prompting John Madden to declare that the Pats should be satisfied with the tie and try to beat the favored Rams in OT. Thankfully (at least for Pats fans), Madden was not the voice in Brady’s helmet. Instead, the second-year QB guided the underhounds down the field and set the table for a championship-winning, time-expiring field goal by Adam Vinatieri
Brady was named Super Bowl MVP but do you remember his stats? A paltry145 yards passing, one touchdown, and no interception. Zzzzz. Not exactly best-QB-of-all-time numbers, but at the time, who knew?
Eli Manning is that Tom Brady. Not that he’ll ever be this Tom Brady, but for the moment he’s young and untested – for the moment.
On Sunday night, that will change.
And if he throws zero picks, as that Brady did, we’re talking Giant upset and MVP. Brother-to-brother rings.
But as good as it sounds, as easy as it would be to craft that tale, it won’t happen.
Like their predecessors – the Patroits’ two prior playoff victims – the boys from New York will have to play perfect football to beat these Pats. Gimpy ankle or no. They’ll have to score touchdowns and not field goals (In fact, if we even see Lawrence Tynes before the end of the fourth quarter, fork it.) They’ll have to sack TB at least three times and bust him in the head at least three more. They’ll have to get 100+ yards from Thunder and Lightening in the backfield. And they’ll have to get at least one cheap TD – a fumble recovery at the one, a punt or kick-off return or a prancing INT.
And they might need all of those things to win.
Or they just might need history. 18-0 is no joke. And there’s a reason no team has gone 19-0.
It’s just too hard. Cheating or not, it’s just too unlikely.
The 1972 Miami Dolphins notwithstanding, God don’t like undefeated.
So hear me now. It’s easy to pick the Giants because we’ve seen this story. They have the young idol-in-training. They are supposed to get trounced. And the ’72 Dolphins have champagne on ice that should not go to waste.
My head tells me the Pats, 35-17. But since when did I start using my head?