Saturday, February 02, 2008

Obligatory Prediction Post

A 12-point spread makes for a dull Super Bowl prediction. Picking the favorite is no fun, while picking the underdog requires writing football analysis involving as many leaps of faith as x's and o's.

Faith surpasseth understanding, as I read somewhere. There have been Super Bowl upsets, and by golly, I even picked two of 'em. In print. You can look it up. I wrote pieces for the Herald calling the Broncos over the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII and the Patriots over the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. In both, faith was the underlying assumption. I acknowledged the reasons why the favorite was seen as such, and offered counterarguments based on the fundamental FEELING that the underdog was plenty good enough to win if it played to its potential. In the case of the Pats, faith was about all I cited. They just had that ineffable look of a club in control of its destiny to me.

I went back this morning and read last week's post about the Giants' strengths coming into Super Bowl LXII. I stand by those assertions. But I don't feel them. Listing them was an intelllectual exercise only, a gesture towards accuracy in a sea of home town hype. Anyone who watched local Boston television this week and isn't frantically rooting for New York to win is truly a Patriots fan worth saluting.

Accuracy went under the replay hood and looked at the Giants again. Their playoff strengths, solid line play and turnover avoidance, are still there, but when added up, the result is, here are the reasons New York could win IF the game stays close and IF the Pats make some mistakes to boot.

One if is all I give any underdog. Two and I become a chalk player's chalk player. Allowing for the real possibility that New York can score over 20 points on New England, I return to the following matchup, one that spells out 19-0 for the Patriots. New England's primal asset, is, of course, Tom Brady. The Giants' most vulnerable area is their defensive backfield. I think we need go no further.

It'd be great for the purposes of historical continuity if the Patriots won by three points for their fourth straight Super Bowl tomorrow, but that would be a fluke. My best guess is a reasonably entertaining game for, oh, 40 minutes or so, followed by a fourth quarter that'll give fans plenty of time for gossip with the neighbors, flirting, more food, looking for their car keys, or however they use the down time of running out the clock on another NFL season.

P.S. This is NOT a prediction that the Pats will cover. That I have no idea. A 10-point lead in the 4th quarter can be just as untouchably dull as a 30-point margin. Remember how they ran out the clock against the Chargers?


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