Thursday, February 28, 2008

It Begins....

The fact we all know, painfully, by now, is that the Jets were completely outmanned last year. The team as a whole, had too many of them...holes, that is. LG, RT, the wrong type of D-linemen and linebackers, WRs who couldn't stretch the field and a broken QB who couldn't get the ball to them if they did, anyway.

But that can all change in a few hours. Free agency—the first half of all football fans off-seasons dreams (the Draft being the other)—begins in just a few short few hours.

In truth, the Jets already started their off-season a while back. They hired Bill Callahan as assistant Head Coach. Callahan, a failure so far as a head coach, but a whiz with offensive strategies and a guru of the offensive line, must have spent two seconds as a Jets coach before Mangini pointed him towards the offensive line and said, "Fix." Anyway, Coach Callahan comes in with the Jets with the idea (in my opinion) of freeing Mangini to be more hands-on in orchestrating the defensive game plan. Which is fine with most Jets fans.

First off, everyone watching 8 seconds of a Jet game last year knew the offensive line was exactly that; offensive. Without Kendall, D'Brick regressed and seemed intimated by quick and strong defensive ends. LG was a one-way street to the QB, as Richard Seymour showed Kellen Clemens last fall. RT couldn't get any push for Thomas Jones; on the whole, they were discombobulated and overmatched.

The word is that the Jets are going to dial the last digit of Alan Faneca's agent's phone number at 12:00:01 tomorrow morning, having already dialed the previous six two months ago. Certainly he would fit well in between Brick and Mangold. The question is does his price tag fit his declining skills. Pro Football Weekly's scouts say he started to have some problems with speed rushers. Can Callahan help in this area? Or do you go with a Jacob Bell who may not have the pedigree, but is cheaper and a little younger? That's the $40 million dollar question.

Another big rumor is Asante Samuel. The All-Pro cornerback played for Mangini up in New England and likes him. And the Jets cut Andre Dyson. Natural fit, no? Well, two problems. First, Samuel played almost exclusively off his man in zone coverage. Mangini has been trying for two years to institute more in-your-face, man coverage—the kind Green Bay plays. Second, Asante has set a new goal for himself; the highest contract ever given a CB. With the Jets trying to fill a bunch of other holes, spending beaucoup bucks on a CB doesn't make sense.

One player I had my eye on was recently resigned by his team. DT Isaac Sopoaga, a made-by-god 3-4 nose tackle (he bench-pressed 225 at the combine in 2004, 42 times, second-place in combine history), isn't Ted Washington in his prime, but could clog the middle and get some push up the middle. And he'd be cheap, but SF resigned him. So DT is a problem. Albert Haynesworth has been franchised. Can Sione Pouha man the middle fulltime? Is there anyone in the draft who fits the part?

Another off-season issue is Vilma and Robertson. A year ago, (as I previously wrote) I begged to trade them. Nice players, yes, but not a fit for the scheme. A year later, the Jets seem ready to do just that. Rumors are flying of Vilma to the Lions and Robertson to the Broncos—the best however that the Jets will get for these guys now is a couple of 3rd round picks. Vilma is coming off a serious injury and Robertson has been out-ed as an ok player at best.

Personally, I can't see why the Jets can't pry a second rounder from the Saints. New Orleans has been looking for a MLB since Sam Mills hung them up. A perfect fit for the Saints, Vilma would be a Pro Bowl contender in no time. Worth a mid-second round pick. At least it's arguable. Go explore, Tannenbaum.

Right tackle looks like a draft-time fix. The best options in free agency seem off the market before free agency has even begun: Flozell Adams (a LT, but really a natural RT) resigned with Cowboys, Jordan Gross has been franchised as was Stacey Andrews, who the Jets showed interest in last year. Max Starks is a possibility, but he's been up and down his entire career. Besides, he was hit with the transition tag, which means the Steelers have first right to match whatever he's been offered. The draft, come early round two, has a number of possibilities. Gosder Cherilus, Sam Baker or Carl Nicks whom Callahan coached at Nebraska are strong possibilities to be sitting at the top of Round 2.

One other problem is LB. Bryan Thomas, whom had a nice year in 2006 returned with a total thud last season. His poo-poo year: 2.5 sacks and 47 tackles was pretty g-o-d awful for a guy who just signed a big extension. His parting words, as he departed the locker room after the last game probably didn't sound as positive as he meant them to. "I learned I need to continually work on my game?" What, you mean, you haven't? Well, assuming he actually works on his game for this season, there still is the problem of Victor Hobson. He's testing the free agent market, and the Jets seem content to let him. To replace him, almost every mock draft has the Jets taking Vernon Gholston from Ohio State, this year's "Freak" athlete. Assuming he's there at the no. 6 pick, he'd be a nice fit at the other OLB position. Inside, David Harris is manning one position more than capably. Herm Edwards holdover Eric Barton is at the other inside position, though the Jets would probably like an upgrade. However, with a galaxy of other problems, the Jets might be content to let this one lie for another year. The sames probably true for WR. The Jets might spend a low-round pick, or go after a second-tier WR, but a huge splash probably isn't in the cards.

I'm not even going to talk about QB. Kellen Clemens deserves more than 7 starts—especially in front of a real offensive line—before we judge him. The same goes for RB. Thomas Jones has been proven to be a good RB, when he has a chance to reach scrimmage before getting hit.

All in all, this is probably one of the more important off-seasons in Jet's recent history. A couple of bad free agency pickups, or a couple of gaffes in the draft could set this franchise in a tailspin for years. Let's hope that come the next few months, they have the wisdom of Solomon, or at least Bill Walsh—they are going to need it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Transactons...

I wanna start with a pat on the back...my back. Last year at this time, I said the Jets had to trade Robertson and Vilma as they just didn't fit the system. They were not bad players, just not the players needed in the new system. So, make the trades, get picks and take players who do fit the system, take whatever step backwards you need in order to move forward, both salary cap-wise and learning curve-wise. Alas, the Jets didn't do it. In the past two days, we've learned that the Jets now have given Vilma permission to seek a trade, and now Robertson is on the block too. Well, that's just fine, but now the Jets lost a year in which they could have found replacements and had a year under their belts. I guess better late than never, but still...

Also, this business about the Cowboys trading both no 1. picks for a chance to take Darren McFadden is The Grand Poobah Dumbest move of all time. First off, the Boys have a nice running back in Barber. Second off, they have other holes to fill with those picks—namely, wide receiver and cornerback. And third, this is a deep year for running backs. So if the Cowboys want a complimentary back, there will be a good one in the third round. Leon Washington of the Jets was taken in the fourth round—the Boys could get a good one later. But if they decide to trade both picks to take McFadden (who's it's been found out has started his own personal fertility clinic in three kids with three women in his time at Arkansas), serves them right if they don't make the playoffs next year.

Tony LaRussa says he doesn't believe Mark McGuire did steroids. Right. And Clinton didn't inhale and John Gotti is a part-time electrician.

Is it me or are the Panthers looking for a running back every single year?

If the Blue Jays have everyone healthy (for once) this year—if B.J. Ryan comes back, and Vernon Wells and Doc Halladay and A.J. Burnett—watch out. Seriously. They could easily win 95 games if the injury bug doesn't dropkick them like it has the past few years.

This is time of the year every sportswriter says the NFL combines are stupid and a waste of time. Yeah, possibly some teams overemphasize the combine and the 40 numbers (Oakland Raiders, I'm looking in your direction). But still, getting a personal feel for a kid should be important. ProfootballWeekly.com writes "Furthermore, hardly ever do players sprint 40 yards in a straight line in an actual game." Yeah that's true, but if a kid comes in fat and runs a lazy 40. Maybe he doesn't care that much about football. Don't underestimate the personal when it comes to the combine. It's as much about the person as it is the 40 time.

OK, why the heck didn't Indiana fire Kelvin Sampson earlier? And as a matter of fact, why did they hire this guy in the first place. Now, I'm no defended of Bobby Knight, but wasn't the reason Indiana got rid of Knight was because they had a "zero tolerance policy?" Then they go and hire a guy who already had recruiting violations on his resume (and don't tell me they had no idea of the violations). They he gets busted for recruiting violations at Indiana and they hem and haw before actually firing him? Now I know the delay was because they had to fashion a deal where Sampson won’t counter-sue. But really, what does a guy have to do in sports to get plain old fired. Jason Giambi admits to doping and the Yankees can't get out from under his contract. Kelvin Sampson makes literally, hundreds of illegal phone calls to recruits and Indiana can't fire the guy. Makes no damn sense.

Have to give Page 2 on ESPN.com some credit for their no. 1 reason Why Barry Bonds Won't Be Signing With The Mets: Because he might be mistaken for Mr. Met. That was damn, damn, funny.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Spring Training Time

Longtime readers of this blog (and by longtime, I mean, last October) will remember that the first blog of AND A PLAYER TO BE NAMED LATER, was about the off-season plans of the Yankees. And, I am happy to say, three of the four suggestions I recommended, the Yankees followed. The only suggestions they didn't take, or couldn't accomplish was trading Damon and Farnsworth—and frankly, I'm fine with that. If Damon comes back healthy and Girardi can screw Farnsworth's head on a little tighter, so much the better.

The Yankees also, miraculously followed my advice to not mortgage the future for Johan Sanatna. Not that I don't believe old Johan wouldn't be great in pinstripes—he may very well have been—just that we have a bunch of talented, inexpensive young mold-able starters with a former catcher as a manager and guider. Why not leave well enough alone and not overspend for once?

Yet despite keeping the core players in pinstripes, having a bunch of young talented pitchers, and, oh yeah, A-Rod, Jeter, Cano and all the players who led virtually every offensive category last year, almost every expert and talking head seems truly down on the Yankees. The Sporting News wrote this for the Yankee offseason: "Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Mariano stayed. But sticking with three inexperienced starting pitchers isn't the Yankee way." The Yankee way? So it would have been better if we had dropped some Barry Zito type money on an aging pitcher? One sports annual wrote that the Yankees begin "well behind the Red Sox." Cnnsi.com wrote this: "They didn't add much, but retaining irreplaceable parts in Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada kept the winter from being a complete disaster." Complete disaster? Another had the obligatory high salary comment implying, should a team be better after spending $200 Million?

Hold on a minute. Yes, the Yankees came in second place to the Red Sox last year for the first time in a decade—not at all an embarrassment. But after the terrible start they had when half their starters and bullpen were injured, the Yanks went 56-28 from July 1st on. The Sox went 46-34 in that time. And after the injury-decimated 21-29 start, the Yanks only finished 2 games behind the Sox. And it's not like the Sox went out and signed Torii Hunter and Miquel Cabrera. So let's cut out all this disaster talk.

Yes, all is not pie in the sky for the Yankees. To start, the bullpen is still shaky, though they did get Latroy Hawkins and Jonathan Albaladejo to help out. But while their might not be surefire, ace-type quality, there sure is quantity in the pen. The hope is that new manager Girardi can mold something from all that clay. My guess is the former catcher can make the best of it.

A second worry is the rotation has a whole lot of "ifs." Is Andy Petitte going to be able to put aside all of the HGH mess and focus on getting guys out? Can the youngsters pitch for an entire year well enough? Is Mike Mussina the 8.87 ERA pitcher he was in August, or the 3.49 ERA pitcher he was in September?

But frankly, who's rotation doesn't have questions? Every town in baseball is asking question of its rotation. Is Schilling done? Is Dontrelle able to pitch in the American League? Is Jered Weaver going to load the bases every inning like he did last year? Etc, etc, etc.

But that does bring us to a legitimate concern for the Yankees; and that is that the rest of the AL elite got much better. Detroit got Miquel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis from the Marlins without disrupting their main ballclub at all. The Angels got Torri Hunter to play center and protect Vlad Guerrero in the lineup. They also got Jon Garland from the White Sox to give them six legitimate starters. The Indians got a ace bullpen man from Japan in Masahide Kobayashi. The Blue Jays not only have a nice pitching rotation and bullpen, but they got the left side of the Cardinals infield in Scott Rolen and David Eckstein. Seattle got Eric Bedard to anchor their rotation. Heck, even the Rays got Matt Garza to join Jamie Shields and Scott Kazmir in giving the Rays a nice starting 3. They also have some more talented youngsters like Evan Longoria and Reid Brignac coming up soon.

That said, let's not forget we're dealing with the Yankees here. They have the best batting corp in the majors, where batting .280 means you might get demoted. They had the third best fielding percentage last year. And for all their pitching woes, they can't possibly have the injuries they did last year. They have three youngsters who can flat out pitch. And, possibly most importantly, they won't have to worry about Carl Pavano.

The X Factor is Joe Girardi. A well-documented baseball guru, Girardi was the right guy for this job. A "manager on the field" who helped Petitte and Rivera when they were youngsters (not to mention Posada behind the plate), he guided the Florida Marlins when they put a AAA club on the field in 2006 (with a budget of $14 million dollars) to a 78-84 record. They contended for a wild card spot up until a week and a half left in the season. For that he was awarded the NL Manager of the Year.

Whereas Joe Torre was 'Unemotional Joe," Girardi is full of vinegar. He once threw Scott Olsen against the dugout wall. He will make the Yankees work and he will teach the young pitchers how it gets done. And that's where I think the hire of Girardi will pay off the best. Girardi was great at controlling a pitcher when he was calling the game, he was good at getting the best out of young player in Florida, and he will pay off for the Yankees' youngsters. When you are putting so much faith in your young pitching staff, why not hire a guy who's known for aiding young players along?

So, all said, I see at least a 95 win season, and if they remain relatively healthy, over 100. Girardi's tough, but sensible approach worked wonders with a 14 million dollar team. With the Yankee's lineup of all-stars, who's to say he can't take us all they way to the Series?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sick

Sorry guys. Got a serious flu bug. Will write more as soon as I can.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Old Time Coaches

So, this week saw something strange: two old-timers—in a way—get what was coming to them. First, "Too Tough" Tom Coughlin finally got the Super Bowl he had been screaming and yelling for all these years. And Bobby, "Call me Mister" Knight just up and retired out of the blue.

Make no mistake, these two guys were from a different time; when coaches coached...by any means necessary. Yelling, threating, belittling, they weren't psychologists and mood counselors, like today's coaches, more likely to keep a team "focused" than design a special teams play. And they certainly didn't take any crap.

When he was coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tom Coughlin once ordered his teenage daughter stand up during one of his practices. Another time, a player threw a helmet across the field following an altercation, Coughlin told him to go pick it up. The player said no. He was cut that afternoon.

Players walking down the hall would lower their heads to avoid eye contact. He had rules for almost every single thing. Hair styles, sock styles. He has told players that if they weren't five minutes early for a team meeting, they were late.

But the man could coach. He took a wrecked Boston College program and turned it around in three years, ending it with a huge win over #1 ranked Notre Dame. And despite Jacksonville being an expansion team, he still coached them to a 68-60 record including two trips to the AFC Championship game. In 2002, the Jaguars cam up against major cap problems and had to dump a whole bunch of players due to salary problems. Coughlin still coached that stripped-bare team to a 6-10 record. After taking over the next season, current Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio reviewed that season and said it was one of the best coaching jobs he's seen.

However, coaching in Jacksonville and coaching in New York are two different stories. When Coughlin came to New York, and brought the martinet style, all the Giant players—mostly veterans—had to do was walk over to one of the 50 reporters covering the Giants to undermine him. And they did.

No coach, including Isaiah Thomas, Ray Handley and Rich Kotite has ever been questioned or ridiculed in the New York tabloids more than Tom Coughlin. From his decision to bench Kurt Warner and play Eli Manning in 2003 to his decision to play tough against the New England Patriots last December, the local papers and sports radio have taken a crack addict's liking for crack in trashing the Too Tough, No Fun Tom.

New York likes flair. Coughlin had none. New York likes personality. Coughlin hides his behind rules and military-like discipline. So, when player like Tiki Barber and Mike Strahan started complaining publically about Too Tough Tom's rules, and the Giants lost an upsetting playoff game last season, the smart money said Coughlin would be shown the door.

But New York gave Coughlin a lame-duck one-year extension. But with this caveat. Coughlin promised he had a plan to get Manning to the next level. And he promised to lighten up on the players.

Which he did. When Strahan didn't want to show up to training camp. Coughlin just accepted it. And he took away some of the "Coughlin Rules." He formed a veteran leadership council that had a voice in how the team was run.

He didn't completely change. He was still an ornery old bastard, tough and mostly uncompromising. Despite what everyone predicted they ought to do, Coughlin went for it against the Patriots late in December, protecting players from injuries be damned. But he loosened up enough so that the players, mostly veterans became his biggest supporters. Perhaps the best evidence Coughlin had changed is this: Just before the game, Coughlin—the guy who told his daughter to stand up at practice—told his team "Go and have the time of your life." He spoke from the heart about coaching on the 1990 Giants Super Bowl Champions and how it made him feel. He told his guys he wanted them to feel that to and that they deserved to feel that way too.

The rest is history.

It's nothing but history now for Bobby Knight. And he leaves the game as he has always coached it: With the spotlight directed on him, all bright and scrutiny-packed.

Knight once said that he had never really stopped coaching at West Point. The world and the game have changed since then, but he hasn't. As Dick Vitale said this week: If he had to pick a song to sign Bobby out, it would be "He did it his way."

That, he certainly did. He has tossed a chair across the court during a game. He has also thrown a photographer into bushes, kicked his son, shoved a fan of an opposing team into a garbage can, assaulted a police officer in Puerto Rico and would often get physical with his players. Including choking them. (Knight's lucky he never went into the pros, because the first time he tried to kick Charles Oakley or Ben Wallace, he'd get a faceful of elbow.)

On Senior Night during his son's last season as a player, Knight stood in the middle of the floor and said, "When I die, I want them to bury me upside down so my critics can kiss my ass."

Of all the articles this week on Knight's leaving (it's hilarious that he said he was leaving so he could leave quietly and get out of the way), Pat Forde's is the harshest. But he does have some points.

"You'll hear a lot in the coming days about Bob Knight doing this "on his terms." Of course he did. When has Bob Knight ever done anything that was not on his terms? He is a walking one-way street...If Knight had been willing to budge off "his terms" -- to treat people with the respect he always demanded, to refrain from bullying, to avoid the abusive behavior -- this moment would be far different...Had he managed to avoid confrontation instead of seeking it, his respect would be as widespread as John Wooden's, Dean Smith's and Mike Krzyzewski's. It would be nice if Robert Montgomery Knight could simply be remembered and revered for three national titles, for 32-0, for the Olympic gold medal...It would be nice if the career highlight reel stopped after testimonials from Buckner and May and Benson and Isaiah and Alford and Cheaney. It would be nice if Assembly Hall's court bore the name of Indiana's greatest coach."

And you know, Forde is right. Yes, Badass Bobby is a great coach. No question. And he wants, demands, and usually gets, the best from his players, both on and off the court. But the truth is, if Bobby had changed just a little bit, had lightened up just a touch, his ending might have been grander. If Knight had compromised a little with Indiana University, when they asked him to tone it down, instead of (as William F. Reed from SI.com puts it) "taking it as a challenge," Knight might be coaching in the heart of the Big Ten, instead of some outback Texas school. If he had followed the values he preached, of earning respect instead of commanding it, of treating people with respect instead of bullying and cursing them, he could ending his career as a big-time contender leaving on his terms, instead of as an afterthought, whose career will be remembered mostly for his outbursts and vulgarity, instead of the brilliant way he coached the game he supposedly loved.

And that's the difference this week. These two Old Time Coaches serve as a perfect example of the mark of time. One adapted, one didn't. One stayed stuck to his old ways until he felt there was no country for this old coach. One changed, a little, until he found success. And now, while Tom Coughlin is basking in righteousness as a Super Bowl champion, Bobby Knight leaves the game, in the middle of a season, unfulfilled in his final quest for a last Final Four, in the desert of West Texas, years away from revelance.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Transactions....


Holy moly. Did you see that game?

David slew Goliath. Dewey Defeats Truman. The Giants beat the Patriots. Lions laying down with lambs. All is askew in the Football World. .

This game is, in this blog's opinion, a bigger upset than the Pats beating the Rams a few years back. The phrase "done with mirrors" doesn't encompass enough" how the Giants ran through the playoffs. I was 7-4 in predicting the playoffs, and all 4 off the losses were when I picked against the Giants. They were, in short, amazing.

A few observations:

The Eli Manning to David Tyree pass was one of the most amazing plays I've ever seen. I'd say it gave some of those Lynn Swann catches a run for their money. First Eli gets out of the grasp of two sacks and then Tyree catches it off his helmet while Rodney Harrison tries to take it from him.

The Giants defense was awesome. They made the incredible Patriots offense look scared. (How many passes did Brady overthrow?) They gave up nothing except 5 yard passes to Wes Welker. And aside from not jamming Welker at the line, Tom Brady had absolutely nothing all day deep. He averaged 5.5 yards a pass. And Maroney had nothing either. He only averaged 2.6 yards a carry against the totally dominant Giant defense.

It was sheer arrogance on the part of Bill Belichek not to go for the field goal on a fourth and thirteen on the Giants' 31. In a tight game like this one had been, you put the points on the board, especially when your kicker has proven he can make the kick. Remember, this isn't New England, this was a controlled environment—no snow, no mud, no winds. Belichek goes for it a lot on 4th and short. But a 4th and thirteen? Against a defense that has been shutting you down? Belichek should have put the points on the board. It turns out he needed them at the end.

I loved the Fox cameras. The second after Kevin Boss’ 45-yard catch, where did they go. Right to Jeremy Shockey's private booth. (Of course he wouldn't be on the sidelines with his teammates; he'd be with the booze and the women.)

Which brings me to the Shockey stuff.

Jeff Chadiha from ESPN kinda gets it amazingly wrong. He writes, "The only thing that is quite apparent about Shockey's absence is that the Giants lack a vibrant personality on offense now. There isn't a vocal player like defensive end Michael Strahan or middle linebacker Antonio Pierce...."

All this crap about Eli's personality and that's what you need to win is a joke. This is the same stuff they said when ESPN picked Ryan Leaf over Peyton Manning in the 1998 draft. Why? Because ESPN liked the fact that leaf had "personality." Yeah. Good choice guys.

You could have a Hannibal Lector meets Josef Stalin type personality. As long as you get the passes to the right people, then you're gold. And, again, to all the people defending Shockey (and Tiki, who's made a side career of trashing Eli)...interesting to note that with Tiki gone, and just after Shockey goes down for the season and can't showboat against Eli all over the field and sideline, that Eli started playing like a man with confidence. Confidence he wouldn't get shown up. First he plays against the Patriots in December like a leader. Then he rolls through the NFC playoffs without a turnover. Then, all he does is go out and beat the 18-0 Patriots as a 12 point underdog. All this blog is saying, why mess with the chemistry.


And lastly...what the heck was with no Dark Knight preview? Iron Man is fine and all, but come on....

Friday, February 1, 2008

"The Big Game"

So let's talk about Tom Brady's ankle, shall we? Or how about Gisele?

Yeah, right. Enough about all that nonsense and let's get down to some real football talk. Let's break down the Super Bowl.

The Giants offense vs. the Patriots defense.
Firstly, it is imperative that the Giants run the ball, run it well, and run it up the middle. The Giants running game, while good all year has suffered in the playoffs, where they have lost 1 YPA. It won't get any easier against the Pats. The Giants are going to try to zone block gigantic Vince Wilfork with a double-team so they can try to run up the middle. And the Giants truly need Jacobs and Bradshaw to run well up the middle to draw the ILB of the Pats in for play action. If you remember the Giant-Buccaneer game, you remember it was short inside passes that Eli threw for such success. That's because the short inside lanes were open because linebackers had been drawn in due to successful running by the Giants. Team have to respect the Giants running game. And all we've heard from the "experts" and "prognosticators" this week is how old and slowed down the Pats ILB are. But let's not forget, the Pats faced a similar running threat in Jacksonville's Drew and Taylor and all the Pats did was shut them down for 66 yards. Seau had 10 tackles, Bruschi had 7.

If the Giants can get the inside running game going, Eli will have the ability to play-action. The Pats, unlike the Packers, will play off coverage, standing up to 7 yards off Plaxico and Amani. Also, with Shockey not playing all over the field, setting up as a WR, FB or TE, Rodney Harrison can abandon some of his TE-shadowing duties and blitz Eli from a number of places and times. Also, Jacobs and Bradshaw aren't much for screen passes, thus freeing the OLBs of the Pats, Vrabel and Thomas, to blitz Eli once he drops back.

Overall, the Giants offense has surprised me these playoffs. They ran against a Packer team that had completely shut down the Seahawks and have passed efficiently and well. If Eli can keep himself error-free just one more game (which may be up to how well his offensive lineman can keep him upright—after doing very well during the regular season, Eli has been dropped 6 times in 91 dropbacks.) and not give the Patriots easy chances, the Giants have a chance.

The Patriots Offense vs. the Giants Defense
As this blog stated before, after a stupendous regular season, The Giants front four has had only one sack in the postseason. Also, they have a shocking 50% third-down conversion, which makes one wonder how they won those three playoff games. On the other hand, the Giant front four has been lockdown against the run in the playoffs, giving up only 3.63 YPA, which they'll need to keep up, as Maroney has been awesome in the last month and a half. Expect some audibling at the line by Tom Brady when the Giants send Justin Tuck in as a pass-rushing DT so that Maroney can take advantage of a smaller interior line.

Another thing to expect is multiple wideout sets by the Pats. The Giants secondary having been banged up, on paper, is no match for the Pats receivers, especially if they plan on double-teaming Randy Moss with a safety over the jam. Expect Donte Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney to have big days against the 3rd and 4th CBs of the Giants, R.W. McQuarters and Corey Webster.

One last thing is Ben Watson, the New England TE. With safety help focusing on Randy Moss, especially near the end zone, Watson will be left freer more often than not. He had two TDs against the Jaguars., and while he didn't have a great game against the Charger's, San Diego's safeties are a better lot than Gibril Wilson and James Butler. Expect Watson to be checked down to by Brady, especially near the end zone.

The Score:
The official ANDAPLAYERTOBENAMEDLATER.com super computer has been percolating overtime on this one to bring you the most accurate prediction available, and now, just in time for Super Weekend, it has spit out an answer. The Patriots 31, the Giants 15. The Pats will spread out the Giants defense and take a quick lead on them. Eli will hand off early and often which will bring them down the field, but only result in field goals. The Pats defense will bend but not break. on the other side, Donte Stallworth will catch two TD passes and take the Pats to a 21-9 halftime lead. After a nice runback by the Giants that results in a field goal, the Giants will get the ball back after a fumble and reduce the Pats lead to 6. That will be as close as they get. Methodically, Brady will put up 10 points and end the game for all accounts for the Giants.

That's it folks. no need to watch the Super Bowl. You just heard what's gonna happen. Enjoy the weekend.