Welcome to the big game. I’m here in Indianapolis, hanging out on Media Day and trying to find a path through the crowd so I can touch Mel Kiper’s hair. I don’t understand why they let all these fans in. All they are doing is stinking up the joint with their handfuls of nachos and sweat stained Peyton Manning jerseys. There are no Giants or Patriots fans here. I spoke to one of the volunteers, he said that they’ll be flying in several thousand corporate ticket holders, like a ton of people from Doritos, slap some jerseys on them and hope they cheer at the right time. That’s fucked up. There will be no true fans in the building.
I spent a few minutes out in the parking lot with the true fans, guys wearing meatball stained Brady jerseys who drove all the way from the armpits of Boston. They are grilling, drunk at 8am on a Tuesday and they won’t get in the game. A lot of them will go home with citations and injuries. There is a surprising amount of sex going on, considering the weather and how most of the fans are quite overweight. I don’t talk to anyone about how most of the seats are going to be taken up by corporate sponsors, media & all the players baby mamas. There is a whole numbered section reserved just for women that Ochocinco has knocked up. What I do talk to them about is who they think is going to win and why, but honestly they were too drunk and belligerent to get any straight answers beyond “Giants rule!” or “Patriots Rule!” So I went back inside, hoping to sneak into the cheerleaders locker room.
Instead of naked cheerleaders, I spent some time at the brunch buffet with Archie Manning. I asked him if he was proud of his boys. In between bites of a biscuit smothered in turkey gravy, he said that he was proud of both of them, but wished that they hadn’t followed in his footsteps. I asked him why and he told me that he worries they’ll both end up injured for life, and no matter how much money they have it’s not going to matter, they’ll be broken. The game is much rougher now, he said, back in the day you worried about injury but the defense seems out to hurt. He then offered me a slice of ham also smothered in turkey gravy. As I ate the ham, I noticed Merril Hoge out of the corner of my eye.
It took me a couple minutes to get Merril’s attention, as every mirror or reflective surface (including camera lenses) he had to adjust his giant windsor knot. It was like it was stuffed with cotton. Finally I cornered him and was able to ask about his achilles heel this season, Tim Tebow. Merril was quick to point out what a Tebow honk I’ve been this season and I explained it was because I had faith in the guy. He had magic. Merril said that magic is fake and while he might have been wrong on paper, he still feels Tebow will be a bust in the NFL. I decided to drop it and ask who he thought would win the Superbowl. Not Tim Tebow he said, and walked away.
I decided to play the next hour or so fast and loose, so I followed Kelly Clarkson around, counting how many bags of travel size Lays chips she went through. For a fat chick, she smells a lot like an old lady. I guess I should have been surprised by how many linemen she tried to blow, but not surprised that she propositioned them with a mouthful of chips. When her security guy noticed I was trailing her around the stadium he chased me off with a cattle prod. I ended up hiding in Madonna’s dressing room, which was full of dead baby fetuses. Apparently the stem cells were the only thing keeping her alive. Man, that halftime show is gonna suck balls.
New York Giants at New England Patriots
February 5, 2012, 6:29 PM ET
Line: -3.0 55.0 O/U
Flashback: Superbowl XLII – after losing in their last game of the season to the Patriots 38-35 the Giants beat the Patriots in the Superbowl by a final score of 17-14. The Patriots finished the season 18-1 overall, while the Giants became the first NFC Wild-Card team to win a Superbowl. It was a major upset, and plenty of history was made as Eli Manning exceeded expectations and led a last minute, 4th quarter drive highlighted by an amazing “pinned to the helmet” catch by David Tyree. The Patriots, seemingly defeated had 35 seconds to respond, and were stopped cold by the stronger Giants defense.
Offensive/Defensive Breakdown (Giants O v. Patriots D): The Giants are a ground and pound team, with an occasional emphasis on the deep pass. Manning has got the receivers to make this happen and while he hasn’t relied as much on his tight ends as other teams, they are available to pick up outlet passes. The Giants ran, ran, ran against the Niners, who had the best run defense in the league. It paid off, as they didn’t pick up a ton of yards but ground out the game and were able to control the tempo. Manning has shades of Peyton when it comes to making adjustments, just with less wild body language. The Giants should have a smooth day on offense, as the Patriots defense, while stepping their game up and looking good against a limited Ravens offense, are still lagging in many areas, such as run defense. The Patriots defense is going to have no choice but to stack the box with five if they want to stop the run. Of course this will pull one man out of coverage, which Manning can easily exploit. The Giants will win this battle of offense v. defense. The only question is whether the Patriots can score more points.
How to Ruin a Classic: What is more appealing about the Superbowl? The game itself or the commercials? At a whopping $3.5mm for a 30 second spot, the commercials better not disappoint. Of course we’ll have a full slate of Budweiser commercials, Coke Polar Bears, Doritos causing people to act like idiots and probably that white trash Pepsi guy pretending he’s a coach. But we’ll also have a lot of car commercials, most of which will come off as douchey and pretentious. Like the ad from Honda for their CRV. In it, they (along with the vapid participation of Matthew Broderick) destroy a classic and save us the trouble of being pissed off during the game.
Many people enjoyed that ad, many people did not. Really, it doesn’t matter. It’s a fucking commercial. The larger point is this, many ads are being shown before the game. Many people watch the game for the ads (because they are mindless fucking Americans) – meh, who am I kidding? It won’t matter. It’ll still be the highest rated television program of the year, in the world, on every channel. Yearggh Football!! Screw you soccer!
Offensive/Defensive Breakdown (Patriots O v. Giants D): The Patriots have one of the most unpredictable, explosive offenses in the league. Most of it comes down to play calling and Bellichick’s ability to recognize defensive tendencies and make in-game adjustments, something many other coaches fail to do on both sides of the ball. His biggest accomplishment this year was handing TE Gronkowski with precision. When not lined up to block, he could be handling business as a receiver, or as a running back. Using Hernandez on the end around while Gronk was being double teamed was genius. Pulling Gronk back to the traditional TE set to throw off a defense that was looking for him as a wide receiver, also genius. The thing is though, that the Patriots offense is all about timing. The Ravens showed that if you disrupt their timing and get after Brady, you can hold their scoring down. The Giants have probably the best front four in the league and will certainly mess up Brady’s rhythm. Having a good front four who can apply pressure without the blitz is important, because that leaves more in coverage to handle the receivers, in this case, two very proficient tight ends.
Final Analysis: The difference between the Giants and the Ravens is that the Giants can score. Even if the Patriots defense steps up, the Giants offense is much more explosive than the Ravens offense. The Patriots defense won’t stack up in the end. While high scoring, the game against the Ravens showed that the Pats offense can be held down and smothered, which is what the Giants are going to do. I’m looking for the Giants to come out running, and to come out pushing hard on Brady. Bottom line, defense wins championships. And yes, the Patriots have a bottom ranked defense and beat the Ravens, but the Patriots defense did not play like a bottom ranked defense in that game. They played like a top ranked one. It won’t matter. The Patriots have been good this year, but have struggled against teams with a winning record, and beating the lethargic offense of the Ravens and the strange one of the Broncos won’t prepare them to face the Giants again. I’ve got the Giants winning this one, final score 27-24.
Next week: Nothing. The Digital Dads NFL Pre-Game will return in August with the NFC/AFC predictions. There might be a draft day column, but don’t hold your breath.