I thought about getting desperate, reaching down into my soul, and ranting about how game time beer commercials have gone from hilarious to ridiculous. At no point have I ever turned to a male friend and lectured him on the quality of his light beer choice.
When your buddy buys a VW Beetle because he likes how Katy Perry sounds on the stereo system, then you say something. When your buddy is late to the bar because he’s still in line at a Snooki book signing you douse him in lighter fluid, light a match, and then you sure as Hell say something. Priorities, people.
I was at a loss because I truly believe that the Giants are currently a better team than the Niners. The Giants defense is averaging 10 points allowed per game this post-season. 10. That includes a defensive shutout of Matt Ryan, Tony Gonzalez, Julio Jones, and Michael Turner. No disrespect to San Fran’s vaunted D, but Saints or not, 32 points is not exactly a feather in the cap.
On offense, the Niners have us beat at TE. I’m a Jake Ballard fan, but Vernon Davis is currently playing at a higher level. Other than that, the Giants have the edge if this game were to be played in perfect conditions; which brings me to what I’m irked about tonight.
Mother Nature. I hate snow, so her and I have been on pretty good terms as of late thanks to the unseasonably high temperatures. However, that could change on Sunday. After a weekend of steady rain, the Bay Area is expecting showers come game time. That means mud and loss of traction.
Normally, the team with the superior rushing attack has the advantage in such situations. Less moving parts on a running play lead to less opportunity for slippage or other errors. In this game, the ground advantage would of course go to Frank Gore, whose 1,211 yard mark this season is only 19 less than the combined total for Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw (1,230).
But if you needed some light at the end of the tunnel, Gore may not be in the best shape come game time. It is unclear whether he is still feeling the effects of last Sunday’s game after he appeared to be hurt during the final drive.
Also, Jacobs plays best when he’s angry. Nothing like a matchup against Dallas, or cross-town rival Jets to stoke his fire. Why should he be more aggressive than usual for Sunday (shot at the Super Bowl aside)? Early this week I wouldn’t have had a reason for you. But following Jerry Rice’s comments that Mr. Jacobs is “soft,” I think you may just see him unleash the beast a bit when he gets his opportunities.
But what about the Giants true strength? Where do the projected field conditions put the air attack? In a season where countless positive comparisons have been drawn to 2007, this team could be done in by one looming difference.
Four years ago, Eli Manning marched through the playoffs on the legs of his seemingly endless stable of running backs. Even after losing Tiki Barber during the off-season and Derrick Ward to a broken leg in Chicago, the Giants could turn to Bradshaw, Jacobs and Reuben Droughns to carry the team through the post-season.
This year, the run merely compliments the pass. While defenses are busy containing three dangerous WRs and an upstart TE, either Bradshaw or Jacobs takes a hand off into the end zone to ice the game.
Will that formula work in California and can the Giants adapt if it doesn’t? The answer to that question is key to the outcome of this game. If things weren’t complicated enough, you are probably already aware that Manning missed a portion of practice yesterday thanks to a stomach bug. Let me be the first to calm your (and a particularly nervous intern’s) nerves. He returned to practice today. No reason to panic.
So with Manning still in good shape, will he and the receivers be able to perform a their normal level? I truly think that they will.
When asked a similar question this week, Hakeem Nicks pointed out that receivers have the advantage over DBs even though both have to compete on a substandard surface. Receivers already know which way they are (and are not) headed. Therefore, their quick and evasive movements are both planned and expected. DB’s not only have to react at a moment’s notice as they usually would, but on a day like Sunday, they will have to do so while taking extra care in order to avoid stumbling/falling.
Being that the Giants have the superior arsenal of WRs at their disposal, I give them the edge on paper for the passing aspect of the game.
I’m going to be honest with you. I’m very aware that I am feeling a bit over confident. In this league, “confidence” is a very fine line to walk. In my gut, I truly feel that the Giants have the better team. I’ve looked at it 1,000 ways. I’ve broken it down and put it back together. Right now, at this juncture, the Giants are firing on all cylinders.
If the mud monster doesn’t stop them, I see the New York Football Giants delivering The Bad Guy an early birthday present. Of course if they lose, they could always send me a Jack Daniels gift pack instead.