If there is one constant in the game of football it is the fact that you must run the ball successfully as well as impede your opposition from doing the same to be successful. Though the New England Patriots have been somewhat of an anomaly this season they are no exception to this.During a Monday Night Football game on Dec. 3 the Patriots’ lack of speed to the outside was exposed by a 138-yard, one touchdown performance by Baltimore Ravens running back Willis McGahee. Though the Patriots were able to pull out a 27-24 victory it was a definite scare for the team that has relied on the deep ball, or the threat of the deep ball, to boost their short-yardage game.
With Randy Moss, one of the greatest wide receivers in National Football League history, lined up for quarterback Tom Brady, teams are forced to play for the long ball. As a result, journeyman Wes Welker has flourished in the offense with a career-high 1,175 receiving yards and eight touchdowns doing most of his damage in the 10-15 yard range.
With Teddy Bruschi 34, Junior Seau 39 and Adalius Thomas at 30, New England (18-0) has a veteran group of linebackers. The upside to this is that this group has experience and an unmatched knowledge of the game. The downside, however, is the fact that younger more agile players, such as a McGahee, cause trouble for the group.
No one has run the table in the NFL since the Miami Dolphins did it in 1972. Even then the format was different. Teams played only 14 regular season games in opposed to 16 in the NFL of today. Thus, if the Patriots could pull off a Super Bowl on Sunday they can be looked at as the greatest team in the NFL’s storied history.
Standing in their way is the New York Giants. Almost a complete contradiction of New England the Giants’ road to the Super Bowl was a rocky one. Stemming from a (8-8) 2006-2007 campaign head coach Tom Coughlin’s job was in jeopardy. Not helping that matter was the fact that the Giants (13-6) began the season at 0-2. New York ‘s ability to run the ball should cause a problem for the Patriots. The Giants have had three different running backs go over the 100-yard mark this season.
Bruiser Brandon Jacobs, the quick-footed Derrick Ward and the veteran Rueben Droughns. Not to downplay the passing attack New York is led by Eli Manning and Plaxico Burress, Burress, at 6-foot-5, 232 pounds is a load to bring down and a terror to defend for smaller cornerbacks trying to guard him as he showed with a 151-yard night in Green Bay against Packers corner Al Harris.
The main reason the New York Giants are going to Arizona on Feb. 3 starts at the defensive line. Michael Strahan the NFL’s all-time sack leader, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck have been a terror for quarterbacks and are the reason New York was no. 5 in the league in total defense. The Giants are scheduled to face the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII at Phoenix Stadium in Glendale , Az. Feb. 3 at 6 p.m.