Super Bowl Preview: Giants vs. Patriots (-3)
The Giants have made one of the more remarkable in-season turnarounds in recent memory.
In Week 15, the Giants were embarrassed by the Washington Redskins at home. They fell to 7-7 and their season looked all but over.
Now New York is just one win away from a championship.
The biggest reason for the Giants resurgence has been the defense. Through the first 14 games, New York's defense was one of the worst in the league. Opposing quarterbacks were throwing the ball with ease and the Giants' pass rush was underwhelming.
This new Giants' defense is healthier and much better.
That same defense will have to show up on Super Sunday in order to slow down the Patriots. New England has one of the most explosive offenses in NFL history. Wes Welker is a top wide receiver. Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are too of the most reliable tight ends in the league. Gronkowski has been especially unstoppable this year, setting a record with 17 touchdowns as a tight end.
Most importantly, the Patriots have maybe the best quarterback of all time.
Tom Brady is having one of the best seasons of his career, and that's saying something. Brady threw for 5,235 yards this season, the second most all time. He also compiled 39 touchdowns with just 12 interceptions.
The Giants have their own stud quarterback. He may not be Tom Brady, but Eli Manning is pretty darn good.
Manning had unquestionably his best season in 2011. But more importantly, Eli doesn't get fazed by the big game. Over one hundred million Americans will be watching the Super Bowl on Sunday. It's the biggest game of Manning's life. It won't affect him in the least.
For as good as the Patriots' receivers have been, the Giants' have been equally impressive Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks are as good it gets.
One thing is for certain in this Super Bowl. New York's offense will have a good game.
Unlike the Giants' defense, the Patriots' defense has been bad all year long. It hasn't gotten better in the past few weeks. New England finished dead last in total defense in 2011.
The Patriots may have the worst secondary in football. Julian Edelman, a wide receiver, will be forced to cover one of the Giants' explosive offensive weapons. That spells trouble for New England.
Conversely, the Giants' defense has shown they can slow down the Patriots. They did it in Week 9, and they did it four years ago in the Super Bowl. Jason Pierre-Paul and company should be able to put pressure on Brady and slow down the Patriot attack a bit.
Rob Gronkowski won't be at full strength after spraining his ankle in the AFC Championship game. It'll be hard for him to have the same impact he's had all season.
It should be a close game. The Giants beat the Patriots by four points in the regular season. This one won't be much different.
New England is favored because of Tom Brady and the name on the front on their jersey. The Giants are a better, more complete team.
They'll prove it on Sunday with a Super Bowl victory.
Giants 31, Patriots 24
Different Day, Same Story: Knicks fall to Bulls
Derrick Rose missed a free throw with five seconds left to leave the door open for the Knicks, but New York couldn't capitalize as Carmelo Anthony missed a three pointer at the buzzer, completing a 105-102 loss.
Despite the loss, the Knicks played relatively well. They shot almost fifty percent from the field against perhaps the best defensive team in the NBA.
It was the second consecutive game in which the Knicks played well offensively. Amare Stoudemire had maybe his best game of the season with 34 points and 11 rebounds. Landry Fields continued his hot streak with 17 points of his own.
In the end, the Chicago was just too much for New York to handle.
The Knicks had no answer for Derrick Rose, who scored 32 and dished out 13 assists. Seemingly every time New York was ready to take the lead, Rose hit a big shot.
It comes as no surprise that the Knicks lost this game. They played well, but didn't have enough to beat one of the league's best.
But it's hard for a team to have that attitude when the Knicks have been so bad this year.
The loss drops the Knicks to 8-14. One third of the season is officially in the books, and New York is not in the playoff picture.
In this case, eight is definitely not enough.