2008 Super Bowl Preview and Pick: New York Giants vs. New England Patriots

New York Giants (13-6) +12.5, 54 O/U vs. New England Patriots
(18-0) -12.5, 54 O/U, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale,
Ariz., 6:30 PM Eastern, Sunday, February 3rd

by Badger of Predictem.com

After a 17 week regular season and three more weeks of postseason
play the entire NFL season has all come down to this it will be the
New York Giants and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42 Sunday,
February 3rd, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

The Patriots continued their trek as the team of destiny with a
solid, but unspectacular 21-12 victory over the San Diego Chargers in
the AFC Championship game last Sunday. Quarterback Tom Brady actually
looked human for the first time all season, throwing three
interceptions against an inspired Charger defense. But the Patriots
running back combo of Laurence Maroney (122 yards, TD) and Kevin
Faulk (8 catches, 82 yards) bailed Brady out of a bad day (he still
threw for 209 yards and 2 TDs) as the Pats remained undefeated and
moved one game closer to perfection.

New York is also starting to have the look of a team with a higher purpose. The Giants won their 10th straight game on the road, and
their third in the playoffs, knocking off the Green Bay Packers,
23-20, in overtime to win the NFC Championship. Despite the nay-sayers
claiming he couldn’t perform in the cold, quarterback Eli Manning had
a solid performance (21-of-40, 254 yards) in leading the Giants into
field goal range three times late in the game. Kicker Lawrence Tynes
finally made a 47-yarder in overtime to send the Giants into a
rematch game with the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Football Sportsbooks wasted no time in immediately pegging the Patriots as 14-point favorites, with a total of 55.

Unless youve been living under a rock, by now you know all about the
Patriots and their prolific offense. But for the first time in three
weeks Brady and Co. were held well below their season average of 36.8
points per game, with only 21 points versus the Chargers. Brady
struggled at times with the wind and if the Chargers werent so
depleted on offense, the Pats may have been had last week.

Maroney and the Pats offensive line stepped up big time versus the
Bolts, proving to the world that even with Brady having a down game
the Patriots still have a well-balanced and adaptable offense
regardless of conditions.

The Giants offense actually looked like they handled the minus-degree
weather at Lambeau Field better then the Packers. Receiver Plaxico
Burress was nearly unstoppable, Manning did an excellent job of
taking what the defense gave, and both Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad
Bradshaw gained just enough yardage on the ground to balance the
offensive attack.

While the Giant offense has yet to score more than 24 points in a
single playoff game, they have shown the consistency and capability
of a team willing to play all four quarters and grind it out when
they need to at clutch time.

It truly is hard to gauge how well the Patriots defense played in the
AFC title game because the Chargers offense was depleted and not
nearly at full power. That said though, they did limit the Bolts to
just field goals once they did get into the red zone. Both the
Chargers and Jaguars have compiled over 300 yards of total offense in
the two playoff games, so it is by no means a stretch to say they are
not as good as the 4th-best (scoring and yardage) unit in football,
where they ended the regular season ranked.

The Giants on the other hand have gone on this incredible run through
the playoffs almost entirely on the strength of the defense. Their
front seven completely shut down the running game of the Packers
(only 28 yards), and with the exception of the first half of the
Dallas game, they have shut down the running attack in all three
games in the playoffs. Their banged-up secondary played well in the
NFC title game, and should benefit the most from the two-week layoff
before the Super Bowl kickoff.

Ironically, it was the Patriots 38-35 victory over the Giants in the
final week of the regular season that has sparked the Giants into the
rematch for the Super Bowl title. The offense has rallied around Eli
Manning, Manning has played with supreme confidence since that game,
and the defense that put it on the line to try and beat the
undefeated Pats has since started to heal and regain the swagger it
was missing early in the season.

For sports bettors, these two teams are exact opposites lately. New
England failed to cover the 13-point spread in the Giants game, as
they have failed to cover in both playoff games and in seven of their
last eight game overall. The Giants on the other hand have covered in
all three playoff games, have covered five straight and seven of the
last eight overall.

Say what you will about the huge numbers the Patriots have been
forced to try and cover since Thanksgiving (lowest 10.5, highest 22,
average of 17), the fact of the matter is that the Linesmaker knows he
can tag a three- to four-point premium on the Pats games and the public will still bet on them going undefeated.

Early betting money is all over this though, as the Pats have already
dropped to a 12.5-point favorite as most Las Vegas sportsbooks, while
some offshore sportsbooks like BoDog have even dropped the Pats to
11.5-point favorites.

With a retractable roof on the University of Phoenix stadium, weather
will not be a factor for this game. Therefore the total of 55 has yet
to move too much on early money, although it has come down to 54 or
even 53.5 at some books.

Badgers Pick: Jump fast like most of the sharp bettors have already and lock in the Giants with as many points as you can (you might find
a +13 somewhere). While I dont expect Brady to have another bad
outing in back-to-back games, I do think the shine has come off the
Pats offense a little. The Giants are playing with confidence and
should be able to stay in this one long enough to cover the big
number. I also like the over bet. The last time these two faced off,
they went for 73 combined. It may not go that high again, but it will
go over the 53.5 that some books have dropped it to already.