Super Bowl matchup is set, let the fun begin

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It seems so obvious now doesn&8217;t it? Of course, the New England Patriots and the New York Giants are playing in the Super Bowl in two weeks.

At the beginning of the year, everyone was convinced that Randy Moss would destroy New England&8217;s team chemistry and keep them from the Super Bowl and possibly even making the playoffs.

The Giants were coming off a year of self-destruction in which they fell apart during the second half of the season, head coach Tom Coughlin was given just a one-year contract and after a slow start to this season at 0-2 many thought he would not make it to New York&8217;s bye week as the head coach.

Email newsletter signup

Of the two, the Patriots were the much more obvious of the two Super Bowl contenders, after all once the pigskin was kicked off everyone saw they were the AFC juggernaut.

I still believe had the Colts gotten past San Diego they could have challenged the Pats even more than a banged up Chargers team was able to. New England may be 18-0 but it hasn&8217;t had a truly easy time with any football team in about six weeks. The Patriots are good but probably not the best team ever in the NFL.

Tom Brady did not impress with his three interceptions, but the Pats did finding different ways to win as the passing game struggled. Laurence Moroney, the Gopher product, was a battering ram in the second half for New England.

The Giants are led by Manning, Eli Manning, and that scares me if I am a fan of the team but he is getting the job done. He looked more like the Pro Bowl quarterback than Favre did Sunday night.

Eli seemed destine to live in his brother&8217;s shadow throughout his career, but if he leads his team to a victory over the previously undefeated uber-team in New England maybe it will be Eli who gets all the commercials.

Most will say the Patriots are the favorites &8212; probably &8212; big favorites to win the Super Bowl, but the Pats have not made anything on themselves easy in these playoffs. Win? Yes. Dominant? No.

The early line has the Pats as 14-point favorites which I realize is a number put up by Vegas in an attempt to get more beating on the Giants, but that seems like a really big number for a team that has not been nearly as dominant in the last five to six weeks.

Looking ahead at the game, despite the teams most recent performances, I would give New England the edge in quarterback play with Brady over Manning.

Fifty touchdowns in a season and already having three Super Bowl wins under your belt has to count for something.

The running game is really close now that Moroney has become a big part for the Pats and I give him the edge over the Giants&8217; two-man team of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.

The Giants can pack a punch but I still like the idea of a go-to back in the biggest game of the year. Anyone who saw Moroney run in the second half against San Diego knows he will be dishing out plenty of punishment in Arizona.

Wide receivers belong to the Pats with Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth. However, if Plaxico Burress plays against New England the way he dominated the Packers&8217; secondary watch out.

Offensive line goes to the Pats with the defensive line advantage belonging to the Giants. Linebacker play goes to the Giants as well mainly because of a bit better ability to work in space.

The Patriots&8217; secondary has the advantage over the beat up Giants right now and New England holds major advantage in the kicking game judging by Sunday&8217;s results.

Lawrence Tynes is just glad to have a job at this point missing the first two potential game-winning field goals before finally connecting on the third effort.

The one X-factor I see? The Giants return man, Domenik Hixon, who consistently gave his team excellent field position to work with.

It will be two weeks of a lot of build up with stories that aren&8217;t really stories not to mention the 23 1/2-hour pregame show we have to suffer through. But this is just the beginning of something Super.

Sport editor Jeff Budlong&8217;s column appears every Wednesday.