It's officially Super Bowl week and the New York Giants and New England Patriots are just five days away from the showdown in Indianapolis in one of the most hyped Super Bowls in NFL history. The rematch, the quarterback legacies on the line, the coaching legacies on the line, the Victor Cruz story, the Patriots dedicating this season to Robert Kraft's wife – these are all great storylines going into what is the biggest sporting event in America this Sunday.
At the end of the day however, this is going to boil down to what happens on the field. Only one team can come out of this game with what they've been working for all year long. And you can bet both teams are far more concerned with what they see in the other on film than they are with what is being written and said in the papers and on the radio.
Two very good football teams, two very good quarterbacks to say the least, great coaching staffs on both sides, and when 6:30 PM Eastern comes around on February 5th it's going to come down to who has the better gameplan and who executes that gameplan on the football field.
Today at Giants 101, we look at the three big keys to the New York Giants final game of the 2011 season.
It's Super Bowl XLVI, and of course we start with the most essential element of the game – tackling. That's going to be the number one key for this Giants defense unit against a Patriots offense that loves to get the ball out quickly and let the playmakers make moves in space and gain extra yardage.
Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez are three of the best in football at breaking the initial tackle and turning a five yard checkdown or quick out into ten and fifteen yard gains regularly, and unfortunately they are all on the same football team. For the Giants, there is going to have to be an emphasis in the back seven defensively on wrapping up and being very sound in your tackling technique. It is easier said than done of course, but this Giants defensive group knows that that this is going to be the key to keeping this Patriots offense under control.
Guys like Antrel Rolle, Kenny Phillips, Deon Grant, and Michael Boley are going to be critical in this football game.
2. Pass rush getting after Tom Brady
One thing the Giants have going for them against Tom Brady is that he doesn't like to leave the pocket and isn't as effective out of it while they have some of the most athletic defensive ends in the league in Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck.
The Giants have got to hit Brady early in this game, that much is obvious. If he gets into a rhythm right from the start, and isn't seeing much pressure or a collapsing pocket, it's going to be very hard to slow down this Patriots offense with that early momentum. JPP and Osi Umenyiora will be critical off the edges because as mentioned – Brady is not a guy who is going to be able to consistently run from these guys or fight off a tackle. If they can get their hands on him, or just create chaos in his face early in this football game it can really disrupt the timing and rhythm of this Patriots passing attack.
3. Big Plays on Offense
The Patriots are not a football team with a true deep threat on the outside with the disappointing season Chad Ochocinco is having on the outside, and do not have much of a big play threat coming out of the backfield either.
This is where the Giants have a very significant advantage over the Patriots offense. New England moves the ball slowly and methodically down the football field, while the Giants have one of the most threatening big play offenses in the league with the best wide receiver trio in football. If New York can hit some big gains down the field early in this game and put quick points on the board, it is going to put a ton of pressure on the New England offense in a game in which the Giants clearly have the defense more capable of making big stops and big plays down the stretch.
New York can not get away from what got them here offensively – they've got to put the ball in Eli Manning's hands and let him test this Patriots secondary over the top and deep down the seams where they are very beatable. I expect them to do just that.
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