Friday, December 28, 2007

Can The G-Men Beat The Pats?

Tomorrow night we may witness an amazing feat. Something that I personally thought would probably never happen again. An NFL team may finish the regular season undefeated. If the Pats pull it off they'll be the first team to do it in 35 years. Many people probably aren't giving the Giants much of a chance to win because they already have their playoff spot locked up, and New England has already beat better overall teams. However, I think the Giants have a great shot at winning, and I'll tell you why.

First, Tom Coughlin has always struck me as kind of a dick. Seriously, watching him coach in Jacksonville I always got the sense that he was a hardass coach who enjoyed nothing more than whooping someone's ass. Player, opponent, it didn't matter. He always seemed to be motivated by showing everyone around that he was in charge, and that he could beat you every time. Knocking off the Pats and Bill Belichick seems like the perfect situation for him to draw maximum motivation from and use it to challenge his team. Plus, he has to know that this team isn't exactly Super Bowl caliber. Ending the Pats perfect run is much more memorable than a first round playoff loss.

Second, pressure. In the two closest games of the season the Patriots timing was hindered by defensive pressure. Both the Colts and the Ravens brought blitzes throughout the game, and forced Tom Brady into making very quick reads. He is more than capable of completing the quick throw, but over the course of the game it can throw off the timing just enough so that the passes aren't as crisp and the receivers drop balls. Against Baltimore, Brady was able to complete just 47% of his passes which was way below his season average of 68%. The Giants defense has limited quarterbacks to a completion percentage of just 57%. They've also racked up the most sacks, 52, in the NFL, and allow just under 200 passing yards per game. They have a number of defensive linemen that can bring constant pressure, as well as linebackers that are speedy enough to come on blitzes and cover short pass routes.

Third, overall defense and a strong rushing attack. The Giants aren't going to win if this game turns into a shootout. They just don't have the offensive weapons to keep up with the Patriots. However, they do have the number #4 ranked rushing offense that averages 137 yards per game. In their two closest games the Pats gave up 119 yards and 166 yards rushing. If the Giants can slow down the game and play it at a pace that they're comfortable with they have a good shot at grabbing the win. On the season, the Patriots have been held under 28 points just three times. Two of those times were the Colts and Ravens games. The Giants defense allows an average of just 20.9 points per game, and if they can keep the Pats in that 20-24 range they'll improve their chances of winning.

So there you have it. Just a few reasons why I think the Giants have a good shot at ending the Patriots' perfect season. Of course, cases could be made for the other 15 teams that New England beat, and being a Dolphins' fan I'm sure that some of it is wishful thinking. However, the Giants defense is good enough to slow down New England a bit and give them the opportunity to win.

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