Patriots pass offense vs. Giants pass defense</p>

This is a closer matchup than some might think, even with Tom Brady
running the league’s second-most productive offense. Nobody is better at
attacking the middle of the field. The health of tight end Rob
Gronkowski’s ankle is an issue. New York has a ferocious defensive front
featuring at least four exceptional pass rushers on the field at any
given time. It was that pass rush (with different personnel) that tilted
the scales the last time these teams met in the Super Bowl. Brady gets
the nod, but it’s close. EDGE: Patriots</p>

Patriots run offense vs. Giants run defense</p>

Both teams will want to establish the run to keep the opposing
quarterback off the field and to set up the play-action passing game by
luring up the safeties. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a solid running back
who has never fumbled in his career. Rookie Stevan Ridley is more
explosive, but he’s fumbled three times in the last four games. Although
they’re best known for getting to the quarterback, the Giants do a
respectable job of stopping the run too. EDGE: Giants</p>

Giants pass offense vs. Patriots pass defense</p>

There’s no question now whether Eli Manning is among the NFL’s elite
quarterbacks, and no one was better in the fourth quarter of games this
season. He has turned receivers Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Mario
Manningham into stars, and they will present big problems for a pass
defense ranked second to last this season. The Patriots gave up a
league-high 79 plays of 20 yards or longer, and the Giants have a stable
of players who can bust open a play after the catch. EDGE: Giants</p>

Giants run offense vs. Patriots run defense

One of the things that made Manning so impressive this season is how he
put up those numbers with no running game. The Giants had the league’s
worst ground attack this season, although it has improved in the
postseason. The Patriots are decent at stopping the run, and they’ll
face Ahmad Bradshaw for the first time this season. Moving Vince
Wilfork, New England’s mountain in the middle, will be a big challenge
for New York. Still, this game is about the passers. EDGE: Patriots</p>

Special teams</p>

Field goals made the difference in all three of New England’s Super
Bowl victories, but the latest was seven years ago with Adam Vinatieri
kicking. Now, it’s the Giants who have the more seasoned kicker in
Lawrence Tynes, whose field goals lifted New York in its last two
conference championship victories. The Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski had a
statistical edge during the regular season, successfully kicking 84.8%
of his field goal attempts to Tynes’ 79.2%. New York’s Steve
Weatherford, an excellent directional punter, gets the nod over New
England’s Zoltan Mesko. EDGE: Giants</p>


Picking against Bill Belichick feels like sacrilege, considering
he’ll be in Canton before Tom Coughlin. But Coughlin has had New
England’s number of late — a 17-14 victory over the Patriots in Super
Bowl XLII, and this season snapping the Patriots’ 20-game home winning
streak, 24-20. In defeating San Francisco, the Giants picked up their
seventh postseason road victory under Coughlin. That’s tied with Dallas’
Tom Landry for the most in NFL history. If the Patriots win, Belichick
would tie Pittsburgh’s Chuck Noll for the most Super Bowl rings (four)
by a coach. EDGE: Giants</p>

Farmer’s pick This figures to be a down-to-the-wire game, and the
Patriots have the edge in intangibles, considering they’re inspired to
avenge their Super Bowl loss to the Giants four years ago and put the
ideal finishing touch on a season dedicated to Myra Kraft, the late wife
of team owner Robert Kraft. But the Giants defensive front could be the
scale-tipper for teams that otherwise are pretty evenly matched. Giants
31, Patriots 28</p><div style="overflow: hidden; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); text-align: left; text-decoration: none; border: medium none;">
Read more: