Sunday’s biggest NFL match-up is a rematch of sorts as once again it comes down to the unbeaten New England Patriots taking on the New York Giants (4.25pm ET on CBS). As many football fans will recall, it was Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning and the New York Giants that ended Tom Brady, Bill Bellichick and the Patriots’ quest for perfection back in 2008.
Of course, the scene was a little different. New England had reached the Super Bowl riding a blemish-free record, becoming the first team to do so since the 1972 Miami Dolphins and the first ever to do it since the league expanded to a full 16-game season. New England rolled through the regular season and entered the Super Bowl match-up with the Giants as 12-point favorites. New York was just a 10-6 team in the regular season and was looking to become the first wildcard team from the NFC to win the championship.
The game was not a high scoring affair, with only 31 points going up on the board. It was close from start to finish, with the Giants not getting their go-ahead touchdown until 35 seconds remaining in the game.
Now, not much is different from that Patriots team and the one that enters Met Life Sunday. Both teams were significant favorites, both were led by the same QB and coach, and both were undefeated when they ran into the kryptonite that is the Giants. It’s easy to say that this year looks to be more of the same but there are differences as well. For starters, this team is playing injured, the other was not.
New England’s “Next Man Up” Philosophy Always Seems to Work
New England lost top running back and one of the best in the NFL this year in Dion Lewis as he was injured in the team’s win last week. Lewis was running incredibly well and had revitalized the Patriots running game. His impact on the ground and in the passing game was significant and was no doubt a huge part of the reason why New England has gone 8-0 on the season while leading the league in scoring and several other offensive categories.
Without Lewis, back-up LeGarrette Blount (pictured) will take the lion’s share of carries and if last week is any indication, the team will be just fine. Blount toted the ball a career high 29 times and collected 129 yards as well as a touchdown. Without Lewis, Blount ran the show and did so effectively. Against the Giants, Blount has a more than favorable match-up to work with as he’ll be facing the league’s 25th best rushing defense and 22nd in yards per game at just under 115. If Blount can continue to run the way he has, the passing game will continue to open up as it has all season.
Brady has spent the better part of the last few years grooming second tier wide receivers into pro bowl talents. This year, he had a strong corps, mostly guys that he built up. Among them, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and of course the NFL’s best tight end, Rob Gronkowski. The passing game has been strong and Brady is among the top three QBs in the NFL in almost every passing category. Additionally, he is one of the early favorites to win the league MVP.
But against the Giants, it is almost like a switch goes off. Brady has not been at his best and the team’s defense has come down with huge plays. Fortunately, against this year’s last place passing defense Giants, it looks incredibly promising for Brady and his receivers. Now, they just have to find a way to have their defense stop Manning.
New England’s Biggest Test: Stopping Odell Beckham Jr.
For as bad as Brady has been against the Giants, Manning has been that good against the Patriots. And unlike the last time these two teams faced in 2012, Manning has one of the best young receivers in the game in Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham is electric, there’s really no other way to do it. He has an incredible knack for finding the ball and putting himself in position to make every catch and every play. He’s by far the best weapon for the Giants, whose running game is really non-existent save for former Patriot Shane Vereen. But even then, Vereen’s biggest value is in the short passing game, opening up routes that allow Beckham to go big downfield.
The 23-year-old receiver is the definition of a big play guy. And not to discount the season Manning is having, which is his best in quite some time, but Beckham accounts for close to 40% of his total yards, which rank sixth in the league in terms of passing offense.
Our Preview’s New England Patriots vs New York Giants Betting Picks Predictions
The Giants are fifth in total touchdowns, the Patriots are first. The Giants and Manning have just six interceptions, the Patriots and Brady have two. Moral of the story is, as good as the Giants have been, and as good as they likely will continue to be against the Patriots, this year the narrative seems like it will unfold in a different way.
Of course, the Giants are at home and it’s still largely Manning’s team vs Brady’s as it has been the past two New York Super Bowl wins, but this is a reinvigorated New England team that hasn’t even looked in danger of dropping a game. They’ve seldom trailed and when they have, it hasn’t been for long. New England is looking to repeat and they are poised to do just that. I have no doubt New York will test them, take them to the limit, and maybe even be one of few teams to lose by a single-digit margin, but they likely won’t win. So, considering those points, we move to this preview’s picks and betting predictions:
- The Patriots are favorites by 7.5 points, but that is a big margin to concede on the spread and I expect the score to be closer. So bet on the New York Giants +7.5pts @ best betting odds of -110 with Bovada Sportsbook. Both 5Dimes and BetOnline currently go -115 for the same betting line.
- As for the total points for the game, these two teams have played to low scoring totals in the past, but this year both are top offenses. It will be hard to keep this below 30 points per team. The best option is to take the over 54 points @ -110 with 5Dimes Sportsbook. It is currently over 54.5pts with BetOnline and Bovada, which would see you losing in the event it is exactly 54pts, while with 5Dimes you’d at least get your wager back in that instance.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.