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Head to Head

I’m going to look at the starting groups of players and positions for the Giants and Patriots head to head to rate them. It was a request from a reader, Michael. I hope I did what he asked and have not disappointed him. Let us first let’s look at the top of the food chain, the coaches of each team.

Coaches

Head Coach

Pats – Bill Belichick – His record is 175-97-0 and his playoff record is 17-6 winning 3 super bowls as a head coach and 5 NFC championships, that is a hall of fame career. But what have you done for me lately little Bill?
Giants – Tom Coughlin – His record is 129-103 and his playoff record is 10-7, winning one super Bowl and now two NFC championships.

The edge goes to neither – Even – I am not crazy about Coughlin but I think Belichick is a lousy talent evaluator. It’s closer than I want to admit and Tom has already beaten Bill in the Super Bowl with the Giants.

 

Offensive Coordinator

Pats- Bill O’Brien has been with the Pats since 2007, this is his first year as OC. So he has no history other than this season, he has done a great job so far.

Giants- Kevin Gilbride has been the Giants offensive coordinator since 2007. Some think he’s a good one and some think he stinks.

The edge goes to – neither – Even due to O’Brien’s lack of history as an OC.

 

Defensive Coordinator

Pats- Technically there is none but the closest thing is their safeties coach Matt Patricia.

Giants – Perry Fewell took over from Spags in 2010, he has had some minor success but it’s hard to judge with all the injuries on the defense. His biggest issue has been using soft zone defenses which don’t fit the Giants personnel.

The edge goes to the Giants kind of by default.

 

Overall Staff

The Pats and the Giants staffs overall are very good, the Giants have some outstanding people as well as the Patriots who like the Giants seem to provide good coaches for the rest of the NFL. I’d have to rate both staffs as even. Granted the Patriots have had more success for a longer period of time but we are discussing right now, not the past.

 

Quarterbacks

Pats- Tom Brady is more like a rock star these days, although he delivers and is considered one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL like Bill Belichick it’s what have you done for me lately Tom. Drafted in the 6th round, he got his chance when Bledsoe went down and has never looked back, he has 3 super bowl wins. 601-411 for 5325 yards in 2011, 327 yards per game and 39 TDs, 12 INTs. That’s an amazing year for a QB. Tom Brady will have a bust at Canton, it’s probably already made just waiting.

Giants- Eli Manning, when asked this season if he thought he was an elite quarterback he said yes, to me there is no question that he is. 589-359 for 4993 yards, 308 yards per game, 29 TDs and 16 INTs. Considering the Giants are supposed to be a run first team that’s a great set of stats.

The Edge goes to Eli by a hair this season because he pretty much owns the Brady Bunch. In reality they are about as close as you can get, neither has an edge, neither can run well and Eli is just as intense and a competitor as Brady only he shows it on the field, not off it. Eli is a down to earth good guy who is comfortable being who he is, Brady seems like he has a chip on his shoulder and always has something to prove, he does. Again I am going by the now, not the past.

 

Running backs

Pats- Like the Giants the Pats do it by committee, they are a pass first team though. So the names are immaterial their output is more important, none are by any means a star player yet their total matches the much better Giants backs. Total rushing yardage is about 1300 yards, and 1200 receiving, like I said this is a pass first offense with no name backs.

Giants- Bradshaw, Jacobs and DJ Ware did not have their best years, partly because of the offensive line and partly because they just did not run well or were injured. 1300 yards rushing is well off past season’s totals and 560 yards receiving isn’t bad considering the quality of the WRs. It does not tell the story of their potential, they are a more talented group than the Pats have. If running well they can control the game, if not, as usual the Giants will have to rely on Eli Manning’s arm which is not a bad thing.

The edge goes to Giants who have a potentially good ground game that can eat up the clock and sustain drives, this is a huge weakness for the Pats. They don’t have a big blocking FB that can catch the ball or a 265 pound running back that can punish a defense when he wants to.

 

Wide receivers

Pats- Wes Welker, 122 catches for 1569 yards and 9 touchdowns, Chad 15 for 276 yards 1TD OUCH ocinco and old man Branch 51-702-5 TDs, their bigtime receivers are short at about 5’8-9” and their big receiver is nowhere to be found, Chad is desaparecido en combate(Missing in action). I don’t think the Giants secondary will have a problem with this bunch except for Wes finding the seams. They don’t have the long ball capabilities the Giants have.

Giants- This is strong point for the Giants, two thousand yard receivers and another one who could be. The weak Patriot secondary is going to have a tough time covering Cruz, Nicks and Manningham. All three have good YAC numbers and all three can take it to the house at any time. The weak Pats secondary cannot cover this group, period. This is where the Giants can exploit the pats when they need to but should not go into the game relying on it and stick to trying to run the ball, believe it or not. A great season for any group of players, Nicks 76 rec – 1192 yards – 7 TDs, Cruz 82-1536-9, Manningham 39-523-4. Too bad there were some injuries or this group might have broken some records other than Cruz’s Giants yardage for receiving.

The edge goes to the Giants by a wide margin and could be the difference in the game.

 

Tight ends

Pats- This is the strong point of the Pats offense, Gronkowski had 90 rec – 1326 yards- 17 TDs, wow that’s amazing for a TE, Hernandez who is only 6’1” had 79-910-7. The Giants have to account for these players especially in 2 TE formations which I expect to see a lot of. This could be a problem for the Giants in the redzone over matching the secondary. The BIG question is how bad is Gronk hurt? Can he play 100%? Remember the Colts lost a super bowl because one player was hurt, he was their defense at the time. Due to injury the Colts could not beat the Saints because Dwight Freeney was not nearly 100%, if Gronkowski cannot play well this could be a major factor with the Pats redzone efficiency.

Giants- This is a huge weakness for the Giants, Ballard, Beckum and Pascoe, although they have made some great plays all season that’s because the other teams have to concentrate on the Giants receiving corps which is exceptional. Totals are for Ballard 38 rec – 604 yards – 4TDs, not bad since he missed a few games with injuries but the rest Beckum 5-93-1 and Pascoe 12-136-0……the bear did better than I thought.

The edge goes to the Pats BIGTIME, if Gronkowski is at or close to 100%.

 

Offensive line

Pats- This is a good unit not great and not as good as they have had in the past. It seems that they have settled down and are playing well.

Giants- There has been a lot of change, upheaval and injuries but it seems they are playing much better now, let’s look for a much healthier group who will make holes for the superior Giants backs and give Eli time to throw.

The edge goes slightly to the Pats but that can change, it’s a game time thing. The Giants have the potential to have an outstanding ground game and just pile drive this defense letting Jacobs and Bradshaw have great days. The potential is there since the defense will have to account for the exceptional wide receivers Nicks, Cruz and Manningham, yet without losing sight of Ballard and Hynoski in those short routes. You can’t cover everybody, Gilbride and Eli must take advantage of what the Patriots give them and what the offensive line is doing or not doing well. The Patriots have holes to their offense, they are just not a good running team but they can fool you and get some great runs from deception and their offensive line’s savvy.

 

Defensive line

Pats- The Patriots traditionally have played a 3-4 defense so it’s hard to compare the 2 teams head to head, although this season they had played more 4-3 alignments than 3-4 due to injury and poor play. Their defense has not been its usual great self and I attribute that to the poor drafting and talent evaluation of Bill Belichick, players like Ron Brace who I thought was a wasted draft pick has not worked out. But any line that has Vince Wilfork in the middle has to be reckoned with. They miss the play of Ty Warren and Richard Seymour and have not replaced them. The rest of the line is a bunch of no names really, although Anderson and Carter did have 10 sacks each. This is a defensive line that the Giants offensive line might end up man handling.

Giants- This is the strength of the Giants defense as it was the last time they met in the Super Bowl. The starters are a special group of players who are now healthy and ready for a meal of quarterback on a roll with cheese and extra mustard. Tuck, Canty, Joseph, JPP, Osi, Tollefson, Bernard and sometimes Kiwi will be too much for the Pats OLine. There were some injury problems this season, but I see a healthy line going into the Super Bowl and Tom Brady’s head will be on a swivel and butt on the ground. Tuck 5 sacks, Osi 9 sacks, Tollefson 5 sacks, JPP 16.5 sacks, Joseph 2 sacks, Canty 4 sacks, Kiwi 3.5 sacks. So basically our outside rush has accounted for almost 40 sacks.

The edge goes to the Giants by a wide margin.

 

Linebacker

Pats- Again this unit has not been the same since they lost Mike Vrable and Tedy Bruschi. Jerrod Mayo and Spikes are great physical and athletic players but do not have the instincts of Brushi and Vrable. Other than those 2 players the linebackers are good but just not that good. Spikes seems more like a 4-3 stay at home middle linebacker which I thought he was coming into the draft. I was surprised the Pats drafted him, maybe that’s one reason they played a lot of 4-3 this season.

Giants- This has been a weakness for a while but when healthy they can provide quality play. Boley is the key, he is the typical modern 4-3 linebacker who is able to do the three qualities necessary for a 4-3 linebacker, cover, blitz and control their gap. Kiwi is underrated and has had some great games, some games he just disappeared, he is not a complete linebacker yet, Chase Blackburn of late has played his best football in the middle, in my opinion he has outplayed Goff when Goff was the starter. A bright spot has been Williams who has played well especially in coverage, he might turn out to be a big part of the success against the tandem of Gronk and Hernandez, can he do what Wilkerson did in the last Super Bowl and provide some coverage in the backfield?

Overall it’s very hard to make a judgment on which team has the better linebacking corps due to the different defensive philosophies. That might change if Boley is 100%, Kiwi is playing well and Chase is not asked to do more than he can. The Giants schemes have to allow for the deficiencies of this unit to be effective. The edge goes to the Pats.

 

Secondary

Pats- Who are these guys? This is where Belichick deserves a smack in the head. He drafted some defensive backs that just did not make it and are no longer on the team. He even has a wide receiver playing back there, Edleman, in the past he had a WR play but he turned out to be a good DB. McCourty has zero INTs, Arrington has zero INTs, both are smallish at 5’10”, do you think they can handle the Giants WRs without safety help? No way. Patrick Chung, 5’10”, zero INTs, James Ihedigbo 6’1”, zero INTs. I don’t even know if that is the starting lineup, it gets worse with their backups. This group can and will be exploited. It’s amazing the Pats went 13-3 with this secondary, I give the coaching staff and the Pats offense a lot of credit. This unit is bad but who are they and who will start in the super bowl does anybody know? I don’t even know if those are the starters, no one seems to know.

Giants- This is a unit that was hurt with the loss of Thomas and poor play of Prince. I have no issue with KP and Rolle, they will play well and I think Rolle will fix the little miscues that plagued him against the Forty Niners. He has to against Gronkowski and Hernandez, plus those short routes of the WRs. My worry is Deon Grant or Prince, can these guys step it up? The point might be moot if the front 4 takes over the game and puts Brady on his butt. Webster and Ross have been here before and the Pats receivers do not match up with the physicality and speed or our cornerbacks.

The edge goes to the Giants, HUGE but they have to cover the short yardage passing game of the Patriots, Brady can and will pick a defense apart marching down the field first down after first down. Although he does not have the log ball ability in his receivers, it doesn’t mean they can’t if the secondary gets confused and leaves a wide open Branch or Welker. I hope I see M2M by our CBs and let everybody else concentrate on stopping the short passing game.

 

Special Teams

Pats- Gotskowitski is the kicker and seems like he is similar to Tynes just a little more accurate, I don’t think he has a big leg either. Mesko is the punter and he seems to be pretty good, he had to punt a lot less than our punter, only 57 punts to Weatherford’s 82. I just do not know enough about both their punter and kicker but they seem very similar to the Giants players. The coverage team is also a bit better. Danny Woodhead is also a better returnman but nothing special. Like Coughlin it seems Belichick looks for consistency and no mistakes over turnovers but great returns. They both play the percentages and are conservative here, which equates to winning football.

Giants- I think this has been a glaring weakness for the Giants. The coverage has been adequate at best, the returns poor although we don’t turnover the ball anymore which is very important especially in the big game. So we gave up potential return yardage for no fumbles and I agree with that concept just like the Patriots as I have mentioned. The kicking from Tynes is inconsistent as it always has been from him, although he has come through in some big games with field goals. They better be close and not expect him to hit on 50 yarders. His kickoffs are short and that always helps the other team in terms of where they start, field position. The closer the opposing team gets to your own goal line the more chance there is for the other team scoring points, according to percentages, that’s a fact. The punting is good not great.

The edge goes ever so slightly to the Pats here from what I could gather as far as stats and what I have seen of them this year.

 

Overall-

I think the Giants will win the Super Bowl, they match up well against this team on the field, forget about paper. The Giants defensive front will be too much for the Patriots and Brady will be running for his life spending a lot of downs throwing the ball to the sidelines to avoid big hits and sacks. The Giants running game might come alive due to the need for a weak secondary to get help in coverage. That’s what it comes down to in my opinion, the weak secondary of the pats and the outstanding receivers of the Giants opening up the running game. Plus the potential for the front 4 to overpower the Pats offensive line limiting what the Pats can do on offense and negating their outstanding short and medium range passing game.


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3 Responses to “Head to Head”

  1. Michael S says:

    Hey, thanks for taking the time to do this. I mostly agree with your opinions.
    It was a great article and thanks again for doing it.
    Hopefully the Giants win Sunday. Go Giants!! ALL IN****
    Michael S from MTL

    • Big Daddy says:

      We are to serve the people, our readers, not to serve our own egos. That’s how I feel about what I do here. I’m glad you liked the article and I will try for as long as I could to provide the best possible material I can.

  2. Michael S says:

    Alright that’s good to here! Keep up the good work!!

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