The New England Patriots are going to win Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday.
Once Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick claim their fourth championship, they will cement their respective legacies together and avenge the loss that ended the perfect season in 2007 at the hands of the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning will have to wait at least another year to properly attain "ELIte" status and will continue to play second fiddle to his big brother, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. Sorry Giants fans, but this isn't your year.
Regardless of any greater implications caused by this game's final result, this contest will be an extremely tough one and the champion will win a hard-fought victory over a formidable opponent. Both teams are dangerous and similarly matched. The Patriots' offense was ranked second in the league during the regular season, while the Giants were only ranked eighth. Conversely, the Patriots defense was ranked a lowly 31st while the Giants were barely better at 27th. Despite this stark contrast, this game could easily be a low-scoring affair, thanks to both teams' remarkably resurgent postseason defenses.
The Giants' ferocious pass rush will pose a significant challenge for the Patriots, while the outstanding Patriots' offensive line's ability to protect Brady in the pocket could be the game's x-factor. While the Giants were able to hold back Brady during their week-nine win, Belichick's remarkable ability to adjust his team to past opponents has made it virtually impossible for any team to beat the Patriots twice in one season. As Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said in a recent interview, this matchup is "going to be a chess match."
Alternately, Patriots star nose tackle Vince Wilfork and the defensive line could cause major problems for the Giants' last-ranked running game and offensive line, which gave up six sacks during the NFC Championship Game. Furthermore, the Patriots have a conference leading +17 turnover margin, despite their low overall ranking and abysmal secondary. If the Patriots capitalize on all of this, the Giants are in trouble.
Both teams have incredibly potent passing games, which will undoubtedly flourish come Sunday. Brady's main receivers, tight ends Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and wide receiver Wes Welker, are the league's finest. Even with Gronkowski limited following an ankle injury in the AFC Championship Game, he will likely still be effective. Failing that, the Patriots can rely on a deep receiving corps, including veteran wideout Deion Branch. Likewise, the Giants receivers, led by wideouts Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, are dangerous big play threats, though they lack the depth of their Patriots counterparts.
Ultimately, the final result may be determined by each team's mindset going into the game. Despite being 3.5-point underdogs, the Giants are entering this game with the same swagger as the 12-point favorite Patriots of four years ago, despite a 9-7 regular season record. The Patriots on the other hand, following their last two shock losses to the Giants, have done a much better job of staying focused on the task at hand.
The Patriots will win 24-17. Brady and Belichick will extend the Patriots dynasty while the defeated Giants retreat to New Jersey in shame.