The big game is days away. There has been plenty to talk about, and plenty said by both teams. Media day has come and gone. Now the only thing left, who wins? Well, while you stockpile drinks, nachos, wings and other party goods; take a few moments to think about the game ahead. Here’s my take.
The Sunday before the Super Bowl, is one of the strangest Sundays of the year. After 20 straight Sundays of football, suddenly there are no games to watch. You feel lost, as you now have hours of free time on Sunday to do what you will. The wives and girlfriends love it, they get the weekend back. This means that there are chores to do and errands to run…but since the NFL season isn’t over, it doesn’t feel right. There is no sense of completion, and so you’re in this strange purgatory like state.
Sunday for me was spent getting our house ready for my little brother’s arrival. He’s going to be staying with us for a few months, and working an internship at my office. But my wife and I realized a few hours into Sunday, that there wasn’t that much to do to get the house ready. By 1pm, things were ready and waiting. And my focus turned towards the TV…
My mind started to wander, and thoughts like “Hey, maybe there is a college football game on” or “Has the arena league started play yet?” But I had to admit that there wasn’t any football for me to watch.
And so it goes in the football nebulous that is the Sunday before the Super Bowl. You’re not ready to commit to a football-less world just yet…but there is no is nothing to feed the hunger. Now we know why there is so much Super Bowl hype…we’re all hungry for football still, and yet…we have to wait.
Even my daughter was a little confused this weekend, at one point turning to me and saying “Daddy, go watch football.” She has entered the why phase of life, so when I responded with…
“There is no football this weekend.”
She quickly responded with “Why is there no football?”
“Because this is an off week”
“Because the football teams need some rest before playing the Super Bowl.”
“Because they have a big game coming up.”
“Because it’s the Super Bowl…which is the championship game.”
At this point every dad has 3 options…
- Continue down this path to infinity
- Snap and scream “Because you wet your pants!”
- Pull a Calvin’s dad (from Calvin and Hobbes) ploy, and make up some elaborate story that is interesting and exciting…if not remotely true.
My urge is always to go with choice #3…every “Why?” spawns another ridiculous answer I could give…but every time choice #1 comes out of my mouth. Just can’t lie to my little girl.
The question that is repeated over and over is “How can the Giants win?”
At first the answer was “They can’t”
“Well, maybe they can”
“They have a great chance to win.”
As the theory of hype goes, as you get closer to the game, more and more people talk themselves into the upset. So as we have gotten closer to the game, here are the answers we have heard…
The Almost Theory
This is a simple theory…”The Giants almost beat the Pats before…” or the variation…”The Pats have looked beatable…”
The word “almost” is a death word in sports. Whenever you hear a team talk about “We almost won” or “we should be 4-2 not 2-4” or “We almost made the playoffs”…they’re concentrating on the wrong thing. Almost doing something means that you didn’t do it. Sure, you came close, but you didn’t do it. The focus is all wrong, you’re setting yourself up for failure because what almost says in the mind is “we did beat them, we just didn’t win”…and guess what, you didn’t.
The second trap of the “almost win” is that it doesn’t take into account that the other team almost lost, and will take steps to correct their own mistakes. The “almost” makes a team think, “Hey, if we get a few more breaks this next time we got this game”…but what about the other team? They are going to learn from that last game as well…
The final trap of the “almost win” is the fact that you forget that it doesn’t matter how a team wins, it just matters that they won. The constant buzz has been about how the “Pats have looked beatable for some time”…um…right…so how many games have they lost? Oh, none? Ah…hmm….so they look beatable in all phases except the actually getting beat part…got it.
Word of warning to every fan of every team…whenever you hear your team mention the “almost win”…just hang your head, it’s going to be a long game/season.
The Road Warrior Theory
Hey everyone, the Giants have won 10 straight road games! They are automatic on the road this year!
What? The Patriots have won 18 games in a row? And over their last 11 road games, they are 10-1…exactly the same as the Giants over their last 11.
Oh, and this is a neutral field…and it’s the Super Bowl…so all bets are off.
The Mentally Tough Theory
Someone had to dig deep into Calvin’s dad’s bag of tricks for this one. The Giants are mentally tough, and that will give them the edge. Hmmmm….
First off, I love that suddenly this team is mentally tough. They have amazed me all year with how they have rallied and seem to survive when they should have perished…but now they are mentally tough? Seems a bit of a stretch.
But more importantly, how are these Patriots not mentally tough? The mental edge is great when you’re playing a talented team of prima donnas…but this is a grizzled veteran team that never panics, doesn’t make mistakes, and has supreme confidence in their abilities. Plus, they have managed to do something no one has ever done…win 18 straight games in an NFL season…the pressure they’ve been under all season is amazing….
So yeah, the Giants are showing some great toughness…but these Pats have plenty to spare.
These ratioinalizations or Calvin’s Dadisms make great talking points for all the TV coverage, but in the end, they aren’t worth much. We have seen all season that on any given Sunday any team can win. And this Sunday is no different. But let’s not waste anymore time with crackpot theories, and instead get down to what it will take on the field for each of these teams to be victorious….
The Giants will win if…
They get to Brady
Whether Brady is healthy or not does not matter. The Giants defense needs to get to him. More specifically, the Giants front 4 need to be in Brady’s face all day. If they can make him uncomfortable, make him throw before he wants to, then the other 7 defenders can concentrate on coming up with the big play, and the big play is a great equalizer.
They play pedal to the metal
The Chargers had the chances, but played it too safe. To beat this team you have to play balls to the wall…you have to take chances and live with the outcome…you have to smell blood and go in for the kill…and if you get this team on the mat, don’t take your foot off their throat…stomp down hard.
Yes, that was a long stream of clichés…but it’s true. Tom, if you’re listening, to win you’ve gotta be willing to do the unexpected and the go for the big play. Be bold, the football gods love that.
They don’t make mistakes
We’re talking ALL mistakes. Not just turnovers, but penalties, mental errors, missed tackles, and wasted time outs. Every move counts against this team. You need to play a perfect game to beat them, and that means in every area.
They shut their mouths and play
Whoops…already screwed up this one…
Why would you talk smack to a 18-0 team that has so much pride in themselves, and relishes making people eat their words?
Why would you give motivational material to a coach that loves manufacturing that chip on the shoulder, us against the world mentality for his team?
Why would you poke a sleeping giant in the ribs before you try to sneak off with his golden goose?
Note to the Giants, shut up. Keep your mouths shut, and come Sunday, just play. Trust me, talk is cheap, if you win the game, you’ll have the next 6 months to talk all the smack you want.
The Patriots will win if…
They Protect Brady
One of the most unsung heroes of this Pats team is the offensive line. They are scary good, and allow Brady and company to do all the amazing things that they do. They have played against some great pass rushes in the playoffs, and Brady hasn’t been touched much. But this Giants team makes a living in the opponents backfield, so they’ll have to be on their A game.
They get the ball to Maroney and Faulk
One of the biggest holes in the “almost beat them in week 17” theory…is that the Pats didn’t have a fully healthy and ready to go Maroney then. And if we have seen anything this postseason, this team is way better with a healthy Maroney. Pair him with Faulk, and you have a combo of backs that are capable of slowing that pass rush to a crawl because of the fear of them breaking the big one on any play. Maroney offers the real running game, and when Faulk comes in, you had better cover this guy or he’ll hurt you every time.
They take away Plax
Mr. Burress is doing a lot of talking, and he has the right too after torching Al Harris and the Pack…but what is clear from that game, if you take away Plax, there isn’t a solid complimentary weapon on that team right now. Asante Samuel will be on Plax, and you know he’ll have some help. Take Plax out of the game, and Eli loses his big play weapon.
They get to Eli
Eli has seen very little pressure these last few games. And he has looked great. But if he has had one big issue his whole career it’s that he does not handle pressure well. The Pats need to get in his face, make him uncomfortable, make him throw before he’s ready…wait a sec, this sounds familiar? Oh, right, it’s just good football…I’ll stop talking now…
You’re asking yourself, “Okay, that’s what the teams need to do, but who’s going to win?” To answer that…
When I was a kid, there was one thing I really wanted…a Chewbacca action figure. I worked and saved for what seemed like forever to get the money together to get myself a Chewbacca action figure. Finally the day came, and I went to the store and proudly came home with Chewie.
He was everything I had ever dreamed him to be. All his limbs moved, he had that cool laser-crossbow, and his he looked great next to my Han Solo action figure. Chewie was easily my most prized possession.
That night, I had this dream…I was in the bathroom, holding Chewie…and I moved closer to the toilet…there was this overwhelming urge to throw Chewie into the water…I was telling myself, “No, don’t do it”…but in the dream Chewie hit the water with a splash and sunk to the bottom of the bowl. Then my hand reached up, and…flush went the toilet…as if my pleas finally reached my ears in the dream, I frantically reach into the bowl to rescue Chewie from the swirling waters…but as he slipped out of my reach…
I would wake up in a panic. Reaching over, Chewie was still safe and sound on the night stand. Relief filled me, and I would drift back off to sleep dreaming of flying across the galaxy with Chewie as my co-pilot.
The next night, the same dream. It happened so regularly, that I started to believe it was possible that I would just flush him down the toilet…I wouldn’t allow Chewie to enter the bathroom with me, he stayed safe in my room at all times.
I still have Chewie to this day, and he’s never felt the cold waters of the toilet.
Sometimes, if you dream a dream enough, you start to believe it. You start to take actions based on that dream, and then you start to lose touch with reality…
There has been a lot of dreaming about the Giants and their ability to knock off this Pats team…but they’ll no sooner beat the Pats than I’ll flush Chewie down the toilet. Pats win a game that is close for 3 quarters, but not so close at the end.
And there you have it, the last picks post of this NFL season. If I may, I’d like to take one last moment to thank everyone for reading these posts…putting up with me rambling about my daughter, family, and whatever else is on my mind…and occasionally talking about football. I’ve enjoyed writing everyone of these, and love every comment I get on them. As always, you keep reading, I’ll keep writing.
And don’t worry, just because the NFL season is over, doesn’t mean I have nothing to say. If you’ve learned one thing from these posts, you know that I always have something to say….and hey, come September, I’ll be itching to start doing my picks posts again.
Remember, during all the fun and food, there is a game to watch on Sunday…hopefully it’s a good one, the stuff that legends are made of…a fitting end to another great season of NFL football.
“Why is football over?”
“Because it’s the end”
“Why does it have to end?”
“So you mommy doesn’t stab me to death.”
“Daddy, you’re just being silly.”