It is officially Super Bowl week, and we all know what that means: It's time for everyone on campus, football fan or not, to choose sides for the big game. Super Bowl XLII is a match-up between the undefeated 18-0 New England Patriots and the New York Giants, who have won an NFL-record 10 consecutive road games en route to the title game.
New England's record-tying 18-win season is impressive, but it does not guarantee the Vince Lombardi Trophy, nor does the fact that they beat the Giants 38-35 in the regular season's final week. When these teams first met, the intensity level of the match-up was questioned because the Giants had nothing to gain, except for a shot at ending New England's quest for a perfect regular season. New York showed up to play, however, and if not for another Tom Brady fourth-quarter comeback, New England would have dropped to 15-1 and failed in its bid for a flawless regular season.
The raw emotion from that game and its residual effect has been attributed to the Giants' Super Bowl run, and may help them in the rematch with New England. Many Bills fans in this area remember Scott Norwood's game-deciding kick that drifted "wide right" against the Giants in Super Bowl XXV, but they may not remember the fact that the Bills beat the Giants 17-13 in the regular season. Historically, teams that have won the regular season match-up are only 5-6 in postseason rematches.
The Giants are also the fourth team to reach the Super Bowl after starting the season 0-2. The 1993 Dallas Cowboys, 1996 and 2001 New England Patriots have accomplished this feat, and only the 1996 Patriots did not come home with a Super Bowl.
Since the last NFL game on Jan. 28, there has been precious little noteworthy news to report on the Super Bowl front - aside from rampant speculation last week that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has a high-ankle sprain that could inhibit his playing ability. But let's be realistic here: This story has been overblown to divert attention away from the Patriots' season, which has been perfect thus far, and from the controversy surrounding Randy Moss and his assault charges.
Giants defensive end Michael Strahan may have said it best in a Jan. 27 interview on ESPN's Sportscenter: When asked about facing the Patriots in this year's Super Bowl, he replied, "of the 42 AFC Super Bowl teams, we probably would want to play any of the other 41." That attitude, though, is unlikely to stop him from believing that his team can nonetheless emerge victorious.
As a life-long New Yorker and Giants fan, it would be treasonous for me to pick the Patriots in this game. Regardless of the Pats 18-0 record, and the historical implications of the contest - in which a win would immortalize New England as the greatest team ever - the Giants will triumph, 31-28, to win Super Bowl XLII.