Bill Belichick versus Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning versus Tom Brady, the Patriots' offense versus the Giants' defense: These are just some of the matchups that football fans will get to see in a Super Bowl full of marquee matchups and deep storylines. But at the heart of this game is the age-old rivalry between two of America's greatest cities: New York and Boston.
From the Curse of the Bambino, to Bill Buckner to Super Bowl XLII, these two cities have consistently been battling for sports supremacy, producing some of the greatest games of all-time in the process. And while it might be inappropriate to give this game that kind of praise before it is even played, it's safe to say that fans are expecting a game worthy of the legendary contest.
To understand the root of the rivalry, we must look back hundreds of years, to when America was still a young nation. Boston was one of the world's wealthiest ports, while New York lagged behind economically and culturally. But in the 1800s New York grew in size and wealth and came to outstrip Boston as time went on.
In the early 1900s the rivalry would be reflected in baseball, our new national pastime. Boston won the first ever World Series in 1903 and would go on to win four more by 1918. But then Boston made a trade so bad they named a curse after it. The Curse of the Bambino would haunt Boston for 86 long years, until the Sox finally won the World Series again in 2004.
The same year was also the year the Patriots won their second Super Bowl in a row by defeating the Philadelphia Eagles, 24-21. Since 2004 Boston sports teams have been in a Golden Age, giving their city another World Series, an NBA Championship and a Stanley Cup. While New York has been no slouch during that time, capturing both a World Series and Super Bowl (over the Patriots no less), it is hard to argue that Boston is not currently holding the bragging rights in this rancorous relationship.
While the Patriots do not have the historic rivalry with the Giants as they do with the Jets, the two teams have sparked a competitive relationship ever since the Giants defeated the Pats in Super Bowl XLII. This classic bout, featuring David Tyree's awe-inspiring catch, marked the start of something new between the two cities.
That is what this game is all about: rivalry, both old and new. There are a slew of other storylines, like the emerging debate between which Manning is the better quarterback (Peyton by a landslide), or whether or not Eli is an elite quarterback (he is, for now), but nothing can compare with the deep-seated enmity that characterizes the New York-Boston rivalry. It is simply bigger than the game itself.