Let’s get one thing clear before this article even starts (only because I have a few friends who are Patriots-haters that read my posts). This game has zero correlation or relationship to either of the two Super Bowl appearances against the Giants. Do I sound like a butthurt Pats fan who watched two rings slip off of Brady’s fingers? Yeah, sure, fine, I’m over it. To go off on a slight tangent, the quickest way to piss me off when talking about football is to make it sound like the Giants ‘have the Patriots’ number’. Start to finish, they played better in both Super Bowls. But, both times, they needed last minute drives against a porous pass defense, coupled with two lucky catches. So there’s my rant for this afternoon (I’m looking at you, Rob and Luke).
Fast forward to the here and now, and the Giants are an interesting team to figure out. They’ve certainly got the big names (Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr. being the easy ones to recite). They’ve got what I consider to be ‘has-beens’ (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Victor Cruz), and even a bit of a New England influence (Shane Vereen, the former Patriots running back, and Andre Williams and Mark Herzlich, both BC products). They lead the NFC East with an adequate 5-4 record. To put it bluntly, they’re the best of the worst division in football.
This is the biggest outlier to me. Out of their nine games, the G-Men have played 3 good quarterbacks, by my definition (Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees). Each time, they have lost, and each time, it’s because their defense can’t stop the other gunslinger. Enter into that mix Tom Brady, who has attempted the fourth most amount of passes in the league, while throwing the least amount of interceptions in the league. I think the Giants secondary, who were exposed just two weeks ago by New Orleans (not as good as a quarterback, not as many quality weapons), has their hands full this week. I like Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola over DRC and whoever the Giants line up on the other side (at the time of writing, I’m not sure if Prince Amukamara is in or out). Simple as that. I don’t think they have an answer for Gronk. Simple as that.
I think there is, however, two things that work in the favor of New York. The first is that the Patriots do not have Dion Lewis’ services. He’s a dynamic back that teams often forgot about, even though he’s given almost everyone some serious trouble. While I believe in the Patriots’ ‘next man up’ mantra, I think it’s going to be somewhat of a discovery week for who will compliment LeGarrette Blount. The Giants, of course, could be the beneficiaries of this experimental week. As it sits now, Brandon Bolden and James White have both not shined, but as we all know with Coach Belichick calling the shots, that could change in a heartbeat.
The other is that they have Odell Beckham Jr., and we have no one that serves as a viable option to subdue him. Granted, the Giants do not have as many weapons as the Patriots do on the other side. But they showed that they can go toe-to-toe with any offense in the league. OBJ showed that he’s not all hype and he can dominate a game as a receiver. I’m interested to see how this one pans out. Most times, my reasoning is to let a guy like that go off, you know? Kind of like putting off the inevitable. But OBJ is a special talent, the best receiver the Pats defense will have seen this year. He can win a game all by himself. That is, he can if Manning can successfully get him the ball. That’s the X factor for the Giants in my opinion; how Eli does against the Pats’ shaky but opportunistic defense. They’ve jumped on every opportunity thus far to take away the ball.
Ultimately I think the Pats will take this one home. I’m thinking 42-34. It’ll be one of those games that will be a lot closer than it will feel, if you ask me. I see a couple of OBJ touchdowns, but also a couple of Manning picks. On the Patriots’ side, I think this week’s top performer will be Gronk. I’m not sure the Giants have anything that can even slow him down.