Super Bowl XLVI Giants vs. Patriots

Three out of the last four Super Bowls had a six points or less winning margin. The Patriots have the 31st-ranked defense and the Giants are 27th. Most of the analysis that has taken place the last two weeks regarding Super Bowl 46, has concerned the cat and mouse game between the offensive coordinators and how they will attack the defense, who will make the first big play on special teams and why.

Before I dive into my prediction for this the biggest sporting event of the world, let’s have some fun with some Super Bowl facts:

*Every NFL team starts the season dreaming about the Lombardi Trophy. The winning team receives a permanent Lombardi Trophy, a beautiful sterling silver piece of art work that stands 20.75 inches tall and weighs 107.3 ounces. This masterpiece is made by Tiffany & Co. and the value is upward of $25,000. Atop the trophy is a football; the base of the trophy has the NFL shield and the engraving on it reads “Vince Lombardi Trophy.”

*While the organization strives to achieve the ultimate goal, winning the Super Bowl, a lot comes along with it in the quest. Two teams compete in this grand sports spectacle, but only one team earns the ring. The winners receive a Super Bowl ring made by Tiffany & Co., crammed full of diamonds, team logo and is made of platinum, yellow gold, white gold or a combination of them all. The price varies based off design.

*NFL players receive pay checks for 17 weeks only. Once in the playoffs they receive a share or percentage which is spelled out in the CBA (collective bargaining agreement). Each member of the winning team will receive over $88,000.

*The 2013 Super Bowl will be held in the great city of New Orleans. I have traveled to every major city in the United States during my 15 years of scouting in the NFL, and this is a city with great French Creole architecture, while cross cultural and multilingual heritage flows strong. New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz and the yearly party called Mardi Gras, not to mention the great food. This Super Bowl Host city has hosted the second-most Super Bowls (9). South Florida has the most with (10).

*The third-highest Host city is Los Angeles (7). There are several reasons why the NFL must and will return professional football to Southern California in the form of two franchises: TV market, fan base and local NFL rivalry just to name a few. New construction on a stadium is coming soon in L.A., so look for the city of angels to climb into the double digits in years to come and host many Super Bowls.

*The largest Super Bowl crowd was 103,985 and came in Super Bowl XIV, which was played in the grand daddy stadium of them all, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. There have been 3,512,727 NFL fans to attend to date.

*Ticket prices over the years have jumped, despite the failing economy, NFL fans find the money to attend the biggest sporting event, better known as the the No. 1sports holiday. The Super Bowl I ticket cost was $6-12 dollars, Super Bowl X $20.00 and Super Bowl XX $75.00. It was over the next 10 years that corporate America joined in the fight for Super Bowl tickets and based off stadium capacity, that started driving the price of a soaring. Super Bowl XXX was $225-$375, Super Bowl XL $650-$800 and at last year’s Super Bowl XLV, the ticket cost was $700-$1300.

*Every seat in the venue is accounted for. Here is a breakdown in percentage on how the tickets are distributed. Both the AFC and NFC champions receive 17.5 percent% tickets each. The Host City receives five percent. The other 29 NFL teams receive 34.8 percent and 25.2 percent goes to the NFL office for distribution to the NFLPA, fan lottery, NFL associates and the media.

*For those that can’t afford the travel, hotel and ticket expense, the next best thing is a Super Bowl party! Local sports bars, pubs and restaurant establishments will be jammed full of NFL fans wearing their team jerseys. Others will sit around their big screens at home with friends or family members, with enough food to feed several little league football teams. Enjoying the game is the main event, but regardless of the play on the field, everyone looks forward to the commercials, that are extremely funny, running 30 second or 60 second spots. Like everything else, even the cost of a 30-second spot has increased over the years. In Super Bowl I in 1967 it was $42,000; Super Bowl V in 1971, $72,000; Super Bowl XXV in 1991, $800.000 and for last year’s Super Bowl XLV it jumped to $3.1 million,

*For the two quarterbacks competing today, Eli Manning (Giants) and Tom Brady (Patriots), the odds of one of them becoming the MVP (Most Valuable Player) are very high. The first was Bart Starr in in 1967 and the last was Aaron Rodgers. In the last five Super Bowls, four of the MVPs were quarterbacks (Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, wide receiver Santonio Holmes, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers) and when you go back into history there have been a total of 24 quarterbacks, seven running backs, six wide receivers, two defensive ends, two linebackers, two safeties, one cornerback, one defensive tackle and one return specialist.

Softli Super Bowl XLVI Prediction:

Forget the rematch from 2007; that game is history. There are different players, and this game will be played in a different venue. When I compare the rosters of both teams, in search for the highest combination of Blue players (playmakers and difference makers) and Red players (starters and heavy contributors with production that flash Blue traits), I give the nod to the Giants. They have great depth, especially on defense, they are peaking at the right time as far as performance and they are healthy.

Generally I would agree that defense wins championships, but not in this game. Both defenses are ranked in the lower third of the league (Giants 27th, Patriots 31st), so focal point in this game is which offense can handle the defensive pressure without mental errors, manage the game with minimal turnovers and penalties.

The Giants are clicking on all levels starting with Eli Manning who had a good 2011 season and continued to progress in the playoffs. They have the two-headed monster at the running back position in Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. They have a solid offensive line working very well together, along with a trio of receivers in Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham and the young talented Victor Cruz.

The Patriots have a two-time Super Bowl MVP at the helm in Tom Brady, who is focused on delivering the organization a fourth Super Bowl. It is tough to beat a Bill Belichick football team twice in a season. While his comfort zone, tight end Rob Gronkowski, is not 100 percent because of a high ankle sprain, look for Brady to use several other weapons such as multi-versatile tight end Aaron Hernandez, and wide receivers Deion Branch, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman and Chad Ochocinco.

Yes, the Giants’ defense will smack Brady in the mouth on several occasions, but he will find and attack the weakness of their defense. Play-action, along with draws and screens will slow down the G-Men’s pass rush. Look for a lot of short to intermediate quick passing game.

While the game will come down to which offense scores the most points and controls time of possession, look for special teams to be the difference. The Patriots have the edge despite not having the most talented roster. New England special teams coach Scott O’Brien put his team in position to make the big play and they delivered in 2011. The Patriots scored four touchdowns on returns while the Giants gave up three touchdowns on returns.

Patriots 26, Giants 23