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Super Bowl XLVI Preview — New York Giants Versus New England Patriots

Super Bowl XLVI
Al Bello, Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Super Bowl XLVI features both the New England Patriots and the New York Giants seeking a fourth Super Bowl title for their respective franchises. Here’s how the matchup stacks up:

New York Giants vs. New England Patriots

Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN; Sunday, Feb. 5;  6:29 PM EST; TV: NBC

New York rallied to beat New England, 24-20, earlier this season in Week 9. The franchises also met in Super Bowl XLII in 2008, when the Giants beat the previously undefeated Patriots, 17-14.

Patriots Offense vs. Giants Defense
The key to the New England offense, and this entire game, is how much time quarterback Tom Brady has to throw. Tight end Rob Gronkowski and receiver Wes Welker are Brady’s preferred targets, but the Patriots have endless receivers, all of whom can separate from coverage. New York has recorded nine sacks in the post-season, with defensive linemen Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul leading the charge. The Giants have given up five yards per carry on the ground in the playoffs, so New England running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis could be a threat on draws and in short-yardage. Brady is 16-5 as a starter in the playoffs, which ties Joe Montana’s NFL record for postseason wins.

Giants Offense vs. Patriots Defense
Building on a sensational regular season, Eli Manning has passed for eight touchdowns against just one interception in guiding New York to postseason wins over Atlanta, Green Bay and San Francisco. Receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz will be the primary downfield targets for the Giants. New England defensive lineman Vince Wilfork will lead the effort to pressure Manning. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs lead the Giants often inconsistent running game against an improved Patriots defense that has allowed 325 total yards per game during the playoffs, just four more than New York’s defense. Linebacker Jerod Mayo and safety Patrick Chung are New England’s defensive playmakers.

Special Teams
Neither team gets very much help from its return game, with New England kick returner Danny Woodhead the most consistent threat to break a long gain. Both teams have covered kickoffs and punts well, with the Giants’ Devin Thomas playing a role in two turnovers in New York’s NFC title game victory. Lawrence Tynes has twice kicked overtime field goals to send the Giants to the Super Bowl, while Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski converted 84.8 percent of his field goals this season.

Head Coaches
New York’s Tom Coughlin seems to know how to rally his team. He’ll need to keep their focus on the game plan, if New England manages a quick score. The Patriots’ Bill Belichick has won three Super Bowls. He has maintained faith in his defense, even when it has given up big yardage this year. His team will be well prepared, as always.

Injuries
New England tight end Rob Gronkowski is recovering from a high left ankle sprain. He hasn’t practiced yet. He’ll be a game-time decision and a big loss for the Patriots if he can’t play. Nate Solder may spell right tackle Sebastian Vollmer in the New England lineup. Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw is on a managed practice schedule due to a foot injury, while defensive end Osi Umenyiora’s knee and ankle continue to limit his practice time. Both are expected to play for New York.

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