|Dr. Z's Positional Breakdown|
|How the Patriots and Giants match up for Super Bowl XLII|
|Tom Brady (12)|
Give him a static, four-man rush, as Jacksonville did, and he'll shoot your eyes out (26 for 28 against the Jags). Sacrifice coverage to bring extra pressure and he's human. Against the Giants he scored on seven of nine possessions. They'll have to come after him more seriously, especially if that mysterious ankle is not tip top.
|QB||Eli Manning (10)|
They don't talk about what he's done, but about what he HASN'T done, namely, throw interceptions. He has none in the postseason, leading to a showy 99.2 rating. Since Shockey's departure he's been more comfortable going to his wideouts, rather than trying to force the ball inside. Has cut down on his streaks of wildness.
|Laurence Maroney(39) |
Well rounded, powerful back who can do everything except catch passes, but they have Kevin Faulk (33) for that. Faulk was the best player on the field against the Chargers, saving Brady time and again with his acrobatic grabs. My prediction -- Patriots will test the Giants most of the way with Faulk and four wideouts.
|RB||Brandon Jacobs(27) |
He's a mean runner who batters the enemy and doesn't always choose his holes carefully, sometimes slamming into the heart of the defense. But what he does is valuable in setting things up for the brilliant little Ahmad Bradshaw (44). The effectiveness of this one-two punch will be lessened, though, if LG Seubert is out.
|Randy Moss (81)|
You tell me where his game has gone? A non-factor in the postseason. They've jammed him at the line, covered him front and back, zoned him, bumped him, and two catches have been his harvest. Is he saving himself for the Super Bowl? The Pro Bowl? The offseason?
|FL||Amani Toomer (81)|
A warrior, a battler who might have lost a step but will play hurt and raise his game in the clutch. Only negative is that he might drop a ball here and there, but so will Moss.
Intermediate receiver with the capacity to break one deep. Brady beat one of Jacksonville's few blitzes by hitting him for 53 yards. Generally good for two or three catches a game but cannot be ignored.
Has become the Giants' most serious threat. Go-to receiver, short or deep. Out-Mossed Randy Moss in the postseason, burning the Packers for 11 catches, most of them over tight coverage. Inordinate size (6-5, 232) makes him almost unstoppable. Pats haven't done well against big receivers.
|Ben Watson (84) |
Decent receiver, lost in the pantheon of Patriot pass catchers. Kyle Brady (88), the 280-pound blocker, will see service in max protection schemes, but I think the Pats will go mostly four wides with Jabar Gaffney (10) forcing the Giants to go deep into their ranks of DBs.
|TE||Kevin Boss (89)|
Has been chugging along at a catch or so per game, but I have a feeling he'll be featured against the Pats, who were ripped by Jaguar TE Marcedes Lewis. Offense, especially Manning, has looked better after Boss replaced the injured Jeremy Shockey. Big Michael Matthews (88) is the 270-pound, extra power blocker.
|Wes Welker (83)|
After Brady, the team's MVP, at least on my chart. The greatest hot receiver I've ever seen. Clever, acrobatic, tough. Lines up in the slot in the three-wideout base offense. FB Heath Evans (44) is effective in short yardage.
|Madison Hedgecock (39)|
Sounds like a character out of Winnie the Pooh. Terrific, 266-pound blocker with good aim and great enthusiasm. Comes out for the improving Steve Smith (12) when the Giants go three wide. Special teamer David Tyree (85) appears in infrequent four-wide packages.
|Matt Light (72)|
Quick-footed enough to match up well with RDE Umenyiora. Very smart but can be overpowered by monster type. Not a worry vs. this team. One of five offensive Pro Bowlers on the Pats.
|LT||David Diehl (66)|
A converted guard and at first believed to be a little heavy-footed to play the sacking side, but has come around. Sturdy with good punch. Has done good work on Bradshaw's weakside cutbacks.
The team's best offensive lineman and pretty close to the best in the league. Wasn't at his best against monster types, such as the Ravens' Ngata or the Jaguars' Henderson, but he's a warrior. His matchup with Justin Tuck should be the best of the day.
Best O-lineman on each team is at this position. Terrific on the move, pulling right on the lead plays. Great feet. Sprained a knee vs. Packers, and if he's out the running game will suffer. Replaced by less mobile Grey Ruegamer (65).
|Dan Koppen(67) |
Pro Bowler. One of the league's quickest, with fine range. Heady, precise blocker. Monster nose tackles pose a problem but almost all centers have trouble with them
Unsung hero of Giants offensive line. Keeps things tidy on Jacobs' power runs or Bradshaw, coming back weak. Had pretty good game against Wilfork last time, but I think the Patriots will go 4-3 on Sunday, covering both guards.
|Stephen Neal(61) |
Has missed eight games with injuries learned, from clandestine Patriots sources, to be in the physical area, but you didn't hear it from me. Shoulder is a possibility. Strong and tough with, as a scout pointed out, surprisingly quick feet.
Enthusiastic, overly aggressive at times, can drive 'em crazy with the unfortunate penalty, but nobody wants to take away from his style, which is all out. Very good at coming around and sealing inside when they run weak.
Has shared some time with Ryan O'Callaghan (68), whom they wanted to take over but who hasn't been able to unseat big Nick. Competent drive blocker, works well with Kyle Brady (88) when they're running strongside.
He and the Patriots' Kaczur are the only hog-type starters on either OL. Similar type players, McKenzie possibly a little better in the footwork department, Kaczur a bit stronger coming off the line.
|TOTAL: Patriots 7-2-2.|
It figures, doesn't it, when you're talking about the unit with the best quarterbacking in the league, the best receiving corps, the best O-line?
|Dr. Z's Breakdowns: Defense | Special Teams|