Point/counterpoint: Who will win the Super Bowl?

BY DI STAFF | JANUARY 31, 2012 7:20 AM

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New York Giants

Defense wins championships, and that alone is enough reason that the New York Giants will defeat the New England Patriots on Feb. 5.

It's almost as if the Giants' defensive line was created specifically to stop the pass-heavy Pats. The line is so good that the Giants only have to rush four men. This leaves seven Giants in the backfield, which will help lock down New England's receiving corps.

The Giants will have an even greater advantage if they decide to send a blitzer or two and force the Patriots to keep either Aaron Hernandez or Rob Gronkowski (if he's healthy) at the line. Forcing New England to block with its duo of star tight ends — who combined for 24 regular-season touchdowns this season — would go a long way to keeping its offense off the board.

The Giants have the advantage when they have the ball, too. The Pats allowed more yards through the air this season than any other team.

If New England elects to blitz Eli Manning, it'll be in for a surprise; the Giants quarterback has 18 touchdown passes when facing five or more pass rushers.

Plus, New England's 13-3 regular-season record is deceiving because it didn't beat a single team with a winning record. All 13 wins came against teams that were .500 or worse, and the teams the Patriots played went 115-141. Two of their three losses were against teams with winning records, the Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Of course, records don't win football games; individual performances do.

Patriot quarterback Tom Brady struggled against the Ravens in the AFC Championship game. He didn't throw a touchdown, had two interceptions, and lost a fumble. Now he faces an even better defense in the Giants.

But what if the game comes down to the wire? Most would trust Brady to lead a game-winning drive. Right?

Actually, the Giants might be more likely to win a game in the last seconds; they led the league in touchdown drives that lasted under two minutes, with 17. Who's going to stop Manning from driving down the field and scoring late in the Super Bowl? Certainly not the Patriots' pass defense.

The Giants' defense is too good not to pressure Brady into making mistakes. The Patriots' defense isn't good enough to stop the Giants' offense. The Giants will win the Super Bowl.

— by Tommy Reinking

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots are out for revenge against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI after the G-Men stopped their quest for a perfect season in 2008.

Now, as the rematch looms and revenge is on its mind, America's team will come out victorious against Eli Manning and the Giants — who also provided New England with its most recent loss, on Nov. 6.

Also inspiring the team is Myra Kraft, the late wife of owner Robert Kraft. Myra Kraft died before the season; the Patriots have worn patches honoring her all year, and have made their Super Bowl slogan "All the Way for MHK."

Despite lackluster defensive effort in the regular season, the unit has improved greatly in the playoffs. New England sacked Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow five times and held Denver to only 10 points. The defense showed its true improvement by forcing a key incomplete pass on third down in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship; the pressure led to Baltimore's defeat.

The Patriots have been dominant on the offensive side of the field. Tom Brady has a new favorite target in tight end Rob Gronkowski, whose 17 regular-seasontouchdown catches set an NFL record for the most scoring receptions by a tight end in a single season. If "Gronk" can play — he's listed as day-to-day with a high ankle sprain suffered against the Ravens — it's safe to assume he'll add another score or two to his résumé.

The Patriots are 3-point favorites, and it's easy to see why. Brady has been extremely effective, notching more than 5,000 passing yards in the regular season. Even with their defensive struggles, the Pats managed to go 13-3 with an eight-game win streak entering the postseason.

Now, with the streak at 10, Brady at the helm, and an ever-improving defense, it would appear the Patriots are equipped and prepared to win their fourth Super Bowl.

But revenge isn't everything for this team. More important is paying homage to Myra Kraft and her family. This dedication will provide the extra edge and allow the New England Patriots to go all the way for MHK.

— by Matt Cabel

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