For the past three seasons, I have offered my Super Bowl picks, and over those years my record is 5-2 (nailing the over/under in all three of them). Why wreck a good thing? So I'm going to give it a go for the fourth year in a row.
- New England Patriots - Not a lot ot be said of the Patriots that hasn't been said ad nauseum (but I'll say something anyway, cuz that's how I roll...) In the last 11 seasons, the Patriots are 134-42. They don't do anything special except win. The Nattily-clad Bill Belichick is a bit of a standoff-ish but possibly brilliant cheater. This season, they won 13 games with no discernible defense, and a Tight End that was more wide receiver than their resident loudmouth. But they are so good.
- New York Giants - These guys strike me as a group of guys that play when motivated. This isn't necessarily a good thing... except when they are motivated. They overlooked the Seahawks in an October home game (which was the same week that I had heard a stat that west coast teams flying east across three time zones for a 1:00 Eastern time start were - no foolin' - 4-21 over the previous three seasons). Then after a now-typical Tony Romo air ball in the clutch late in the season in Dallas, they needed one more win to clinch and they lost - at home again - to the miserable Redskins. On the last day of the season, they needed to beat the hapless Cowboys again and make the playoffs. The Giants didn't win the playoff game in Green Bay as much as the Packers lost it, and they may still be playing in San Francisco if Dropsy Williams hadn't been in the game replacing the injured Ted Ginn). Which team is going to show up?
When it comes right down to it, New England is the better team. They are just as "hot" with the same "momentum" as the Giants (Side note; I hate those words in sports. Momentum is nice on talk shows, but means nothing if one team is more conditioned, or better game-planned, or an extra camera in practice. Did Kyle Williams drop that punt because the Giants had beaten the Packers and Falcons in previous playoff games?) But New England has a better QB, a better TE, and better coaching than the Giants. Take New England to win straight-up.
"Ah", says you, "But what about the three point spread?" Fair question. But I don't think the figgie will matter. If Rob Gronkowski is ineffective due to his ankle injury, Belichick replaces him with Anthony Hernandez. The Patriots are a better team with more depth, and it will show through. Look for the Patriots to jump out to a lead, then when on offense run the ball and dink and dunk down the field. Belichick had two weeks to plan this, and the Patriots are 17-3 in the last 11 years with such preparation time. Sure, the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl four years ago under similar circumstances, but this year David Tyree will be sitting in the stands. Don't drink the New York media Kool-Aid, take New England -3 points.
It is a bit funny how everyone expects a shoot-out game in the Super Bowl. The over/under is 53. However, the Giants and their opponents have averaged 48 points a game, and the Patriots and their opponents have averaged exactly 53. Not sure why the linesmakers (which only set the line at a place that will get even money on both sides) knew the betting public wanted a total that high. The reality is that many Super Bowls are lower scoring, and some of that is due to game planning and player's nerves. Yes, both defenses are weak, but a 27-21 is a reasonable score and in that case the game would still go under the total. Only one Super Bowl out of the last seven have had more than 50 points scored (last season), and in the five Patriots Super Bowl appearances since they changed their logo, only the game against the Packers in 1997 had the total points over 50. Take the UNDER 53.