The undefeated New England Patriots will bring their 18-0 record into Glendale where they'll face the Wild Card Road Warriors, the New York Giants. While their games have been close, the Patriots have controlled them for the most part, where as the Giants have played their best ball all season and wound up on top of the Buccaneers, and the top two seeded teams of the NFC, the Cowboys and Packers, but it didn't just happen, the Giants have played amazing ball.
In the Bucs game the Giants won by ten, however, the Giants won by a combined seven points against the Cowboys and Packers. These games were closer and very different from one another. The Giants effectively shut down the pass against Dallas, holding Tony Romo to barely over 200 yards, sacking him twice, and nabbing an interception. However, against the cheeseheads, Brett Favre and Donald Driver were picking apart the Giants defense, and Favre was barely pressured, let alone sacked. Against the Cowboys, the Giants stopped doing what they were known for under Tom Coughlin, getting stupid penalties. Against the Packers, well, just ask Sam Madison how he feels about stupid penalties (that penalty did lead to a Packers touchdown). The Giants couldn't stop Marion Barber, the Packers couldn't get anything out of Ryan Grant.
So, the Giants need to execute on certain aspects of the game better than they did against the Packers if they want to compete against the Patriots, and I've broken that down to six pieces that are the Giants keys to success against Tom Brady and the 18-0 Pats.
6. Trust Eli's Arm: If the Giants want to win, they need to trust their leader, Eli Manning. He has carried them throughout the playoffs, showing the leadership skills everyone wants him to have in the most crucial situations. He hasn't made stupid mistakes in the playoffs, and has utilized all of his weapons to win games. Plaxico Burress came up huge for the G-men in the Packers game, and Amani Toomer came up big in the Cowboys game. Eli's making good decisions, and the Giants need to go in there and let him do what he does. If they go in their and try and change their gameplan to what it isn't designed for, then they might as well give the Patriots the title now.
5. No Stupid Penalties: That's right, Sam Madison, no stupid penalties, no personal fouls, no jumpy offsides, no offensive holding penalties that bring back a touchdown run. The ONLY penalty the Giants should consider is a roughing the passer penalty, where they should hit Brady so hard he flinches whenever he sees Strahan and Umenyiora coming at him.
Eli Manning has shown poise in the past few months, and is the key to leading the Giants in SB XLII
4. Don't Double Team Moss: Tom Brady is too good to not expose that flawed plan. Moss is not the only wide received on the team, Wes Welker, Donte Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney, and Kevin Faulk all get the job done too. You can't shut down the Patriots pass game, but you can limit the damage done. As long as the Giants keep their coverage close and the linebackers don't get beat by the man they're covering, they can prevent the big play and make Tom Brady work for his completions.
3. Tackle the Right Way: The Chargers could've won if they had brought Laurence Maroney down the first time they touched him. They were playing flag football, and Maroney looked like he coated himself with vaseline before the game. They just couldn't wrap their hands around him and bring him down. It's not that hard. Body to body, and follow through. Don't go for the low tackle, bring him down by his center of gravity. I'll say it right now, the Giants need to hit the Patriots hard or they're going to get embarassed.
2. Capitalize in the Red Zone: Why settle for three when you could have seven. This goes beyond everything the rule book says, but the Giants should consider going for the 4th and short conversion at all times instead of settling for a field goal in the Red Zone. It's a tough call, but 4th and 3 is do-able with Brandon Jacobs in the backfield.
The Chargers couldn't stop Laurence Maroney on Sunday.
1. Pressure, Pressure, Pressure: The Giants didn't sack Brett Favre once, and they're lucky that didn't come back to bite them. Against the Patriots, that won't happen. The Giants need to put the pressure on Brady, get him out of the pocket, make him beat them, not let him beat them. 5+ seconds in the pocket is too much time, and if the D-line can't get it done, read the play and blitz when necessary. They have to get to Brady, and they might get burnt doing it, but if they don't try, it won't matter anyway.
The Giants have their work cut out for them, but they played the Patriots closest all year long. Different teams have exposed the Patriots weaknesses all year long, especially in the second half, but there's a difference between exploiting and exposing. The Giants came closest to exploiting the Patriots, and if they play their hearts out on February 3rd, they can get the job done.