When the New England Patriots take the field versus the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI, several of the same names, players, and stars from their first Super Bowl encounter, Super Bowl XLII, will be back.
But perhaps not as many as you think.
In total, of the 106 players on the active rosters for the Giants and Patriots in Super XLII, only 23 are with the same team today. So while many are calling this game a rematch, only about 22% of the players who will decide Super Bowl XLVI are returning players from the first Super Bowl meeting. For 83 players, this is a brand new Super Bowl and the 2008 game has little, if any, meaning to them.
Head coaches Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin are still leading their teams.
QBs Tom Brady and Eli Manning are back facing each other in round 2 of their epic Super Bowl battle, which began in 2008 in Glendale, Arizona with the Giants and Manning upsetting the heavily favored and undefeated Patriots 17-14.
Giants RBs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw return for an encore as well, while Wes Welker revisits for New England. Welker caught 11 balls for 103 yards in the 2008 game; Jacobs and Bradshaw combined for 87 rushing yards.
Of the four players who scored touchdowns in their first Super Bowl meeting, only one, Plaxico Burress, is still in the NFL. Pats RB Laurence Maroney, WR Randy Moss, and the Giants WR David Tyree are all retired. Tyree’s famous helmet catch in that game, ironically, was his last catch ever as a player.
The tight ends have, notably, been replaced. The Patriots have the TD-machine duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez while the Giants new face is Jake Ballard.
The offensive line for the Giants has three of their five linemen still protecting Manning, while the Patriots have two from 2008 still keeping Brady upright.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Giants key to their win in 2008 was pressure from its defensive front four led by Michael Strahan. Less Strahan, the 2011 Giants still feature an explosive attack with Justin Tuck and Osi Umeniyora returning for another crack at Brady, plus Jason Pierre-Paul and his 16-1/2 regular season sacks.
The Patriots return run stopper Vince Wilfork but are not nearly the same line from 2008 without Richard Seymour or Ty Warren.
The linebackers for both teams are all new, with the exception of the Giants’ Mathias Kiwanuka. None of the Patriots’ secondary, starters or reserves, from the 2008 team is now with the team, while the Giants’ Aaron Ross and Corey Webster are holdovers from the 2008 champion Giants.
Both FG kickers are still booting for their teams with the Giants’ Lawrence Tynes and Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski possibly providing a historic kick in Indianapolis.
Super Bowl 46 Keys To Victory
1. Pressure on Tom Brady
Will Tom Brady have enough time in the pocket to make his reads and complete the short to medium routes, or if he will be hurried and forced from the pocket, disrupting his rhythm? Harassing Brady worked effectively in the first Super Bowl game and enabled the Giants to stay in the game.
The Giants defense improved late in the season and played with renewed intensity in their three playoff wins. However, the Giants did rank only 25th in points allowed (25.0) and were 27th in yards allowed with 6,022.
2. Can New England’s maligned defense slow Eli Manning?
New England’s defense, which ranked 31st (Packers were 32nd) out of all 32 teams in yards allowed, ranked a respectable 15th in points per game allowed (21.4).
Eli Manning has four more seasons under his belt and is now the unquestioned leader of the Giants offense and a big-time threat with a diverse passing attack. All signs point to Manning having a big game versus the defensively challenged Patriots.
Turnovers are always a key to victory, and both teams excel at turning the ball over. New England has a +17 turnover ratio coming into the game while the Giants are a +7.
Can Belichick devise a game plan to stop the Giants’ potent offense while figuring out a way to score more than the 14 points from the first meeting?
How will Coughlin alter course from his 2008 focus on rushing the ball and clock management?
Look for the Patriots not to blitz as much as they did in the first meeting, instead allowing an improving linebacker corps to drop back into coverage. The Giants will continue to apply pressure only from their front four and offensively will take more chances with their aerial attack.
Super Bowl 46 Prediction
All signs (except Vegas’ New England -3 line) point to a New York win in convincing fashion.
I just don’t see how New England will be able to keep scoring with a Giants defense that will stop drives periodically. It’s hard to see Manning and company being slowed down by the Patriots defense.
This, oddly enough, is exactly why I now get the feeling New England somehow pulls this game out and exacts revenge from their 2008 loss.
Super Bowl Prediction: New England Patriots 31 | New York Giants 28
Super Bowl 46 Poll
Now it’s your turn.
Who do you think will win Super Bowl XLVI?
- New England Patriots (59%, 325 Votes)
- New York Giants (41%, 222 Votes)
Total Voters: 547
Super Bowl 46: New York Giants v New England Patriots Game Info
- Super Bowl 46 Date: Sunday, February 5th
- Super Bowl 46 Time: 6:20 ET
- Super Bowl 46 TV: NBC
- Super Bowl 46 Announcers: Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth
- Super Bowl 46 Point Spread: Patriots -3
- Super Bowl 46 Over-Under: 55