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Opinion

Super Bowl XLVI features rematch of Giants vs. Patriots

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February 3, 2012

About half of the students at UW-River Falls will spend this Sunday, Feb. 5, wishing that they could relive last year when the Green Bay Packers were playing in the Super Bowl. The other half of the students weren’t even alive the last time the Minnesota Vikings played in the Super Bowl, which was 1976 by the way. This year, we are seeing only the fifth time in which the Super Bowl will be a rematch. The last time the New York Giants played the New England Patriots we witnessed one of the greatest upsets in sports history as the Giants knocked off the previously unbeaten Patriots. Is it worth noting that of the four prior Super Bowl rematches, the team which lost the first time is 1-3? Yes. Does it affect the outcome of the game in any way? No.

These are two very different teams than when they dueled in the Super Bowl in 2007. The Giants have a more explosive offense while the Patriots now have, statistically, the worst defense in football this season. In fact, these two teams played earlier this season in New England. That game saw the Giants come out on top in a surprising victory. Of course, I don’t need to elaborate on how good the Giants are since the Packers’ fans saw that first-hand three weeks ago.

Both of these teams sport lots of Super Bowl experience. Tom Brady has won three Super Bowl rings already and Eli Manning is searching for his second. The core of both of these teams are still intact from the 2007 classic game. That nearly throws the “experience edge” out of the window.

One thing that everyone will look at is the play of the quarterbacks, Manning vs. Brady. In the off-season, Manning made headlines by saying that he felt he was in the same class as Brady and Peyton Manning. Many laughed at this saying that there was no way Manning was an elite quarterback. Now Manning has his team back in the Super Bowl after defeating three teams with better records than the Giants, including road wins over the Packers and San Francisco 49ers. Brady is widely regarded as one of, if not the greatest quarterbacks of all time. A fourth Super Bowl title would solidify Brady’s status as possibly the greatest quarterback of all time. Which quarterback is actually better though? Honestly, that’s a tougher call than it seems. Brady has always been one of the top three quarterbacks in the league every year and 2011 has been no different. However, one cannot turn a blind eye to what Manning has done in the highest profile games during his career. Some people may very well take Manning over Brady if they had to pick one of these two quarterbacks.

A common football quote is, “Offense sells tickets. Defense wins championships.” This quote will be put to the test this year. So far, two of the top three offenses have lost in the playoffs to teams with top 10 defenses. The other top offense remaining? The Patriots. In the history of the Super Bowl, 38 of the 45 winners have had a defense in the top 10. The lowest ranking defense to win a Super Bowl was the 2006 Indianapolis Colts with a defense ranked No. 19. A defense which, statistically, was the best in the playoffs. Can the Patriots win a Super Bowl with the worst ranked defense in the league? Perhaps.

Before I get to my pick, here is a little trivia for all of you football nerds like me out there. This will be the first time all season that a Manning starts a game in Indianapolis.

Beginning in 2003, only three teams have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl: the Patriots, Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers. In the same time frame, the Giants are the only NFC team to go to the Super Bowl more than once. Every time a team runs an interception back for a touchdown they have won the game. Finally, Aaron Rodgers is the first Packers quarterback to not lead the Packers to back-to-back Super Bowls.

Now, at long last, my prediction for the game. Honestly, I think the Giants have the better team. However, and this really, really kills me, I’m going to pick the Patriots by a somewhat boring score of 24-13.

Benjamin Lamers is an alumnus of UW-River Falls. He was editor of the <em>Student Voice</em> during fall semester 2013.