I have conducted an experiment in order to fully get a feel for who everyone thinks will win the game, a game in which I think may be one of the most evenly-matched Super Bowls in the league's history–New England is favored by 3 1/2 but I think New York may be the real favorites. The experiment included a simulation using Madden (for my PS2) and Whatifsports.com's free online simulator.
For the Madden simulation I completed a best of nine series in which the two teams played 4-minute quarters (CPU vs. CPU), because I didn't have the time to do complete 15-minute quarters. As for the WIS simulation, all you need to do is set it up and click "play game" and they give you the results right away, so I did a best-of-11 simulation for that one.
In total, there was 20 simulated games played, and here are the results of each "experiment:"
Madden: New England 5 games, New York 4
Average score...NE 12.8, NYG 12.1
Clearly, I don't trust Madden's results will be very accurate. First of all, both quarterbacks played poorly in a majority of the nine games. Secondly, both offenses are bound to score more than 12 or 13 points. While I do agree with how close this game will end up being, the average scores don't seem very reasonable, in my opinion.
WIS: New York 7, New England 4
Average score...NYG 29.4, NE 30.4
New England averaged a whole point more than the winning Giants, which shows me they don't believe the Patriots will have much trouble in blocking New York's front seven. Between the two teams, the offenses were held under 20 points a mere three times, and put up 40 or more on four separate occasions.
Considering the secondaries of the two teams, and the passing offenses they are matching up against, I think that Whatifsports.com's simulation will end up being much more accurate when it comes to the amount of points being put up on the scoreboard. Both Eli Manning and Tom Brady will be throwing the ball 40-50 times, possibly even 60.
Running games wont be as strong as in past Super Bowls, unfortunately. This could make it hard to put the game away late if one team finds themselves up by a touchdown or two in the fourth quarter.
The 2007 Super Bowl and the match-up earlier in the season means absolutely nothing right now. The media likes to blow this out of proportion and try to compare this game to games in the past, but the players and coaches are focused on today, and doing all they can in their power to win this game.
The key matchup will be New England's offensive line, and two over-sized tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, and New York's front 7–led by Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul. In the end, Gronkowski's ankle will be fine to play on and he could end up making it a rough day for New York's linebackers and secondary.
Say what you want about New England's secondary, but they have certainly stepped up their game a bit in the postseason compared to the regular season. Vince Wilfork up front will help clog up the middle and contain Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs so they can focus solely on stopping Manning and the passing game.
From a fan standpoint, the outcome of this game plays no effect on how I sleep or how I handle the rest of my week, meaning I really am not cheering for either team and I will simply be taking this game from a professional standpoint.
If Brady wins, he will no doubtably go down as the greatest quarterback to ever play this game. His career accolades would include most postseason wins, four Super Bowls in five appearances, 50 TD passes in one season, 5,000 yards in one season, 7 Pro Bowls, two MVPs, two SB MVPs, two First Team All Pros, etc. His stats stack up with Joe Montana (like I pointed out in the Brady/Montana debate article), so why shouldn't he be seen as the greatest ever if he wins today?
And if Manning wins, that would make it twice that he defeated the mighty Pats in the Super Bowl, allowing him to pass his older brother Peyton with two Super Bowl rings and doing so in Peyton's town and stadium. He'd improve to 8-3 in the postseason, as well. Having two rings would even put him in the talks of a possible call from the Hall after he hangs up his cleats for good.
Positive things would come no matter who wins this game, in my opinion at least. So, when it comes to predicting the winner and score of the game I think it's safe to say I will be pulling no bias, just like I always do.
However, I do feel an obligation to pick the Patriots to win this game considering I predicted them winning the Super Bowl in my 2011 Season Preview article posted back on September 11. I almost lose some of my credibility when you see who I had them going up against (the Eagles), but nevertheless I believed the Pats would win it before the season started, so I'll stick by my pre-season prediction.
Patriots win 28-24, Wes Welker named the game's MVP
Brady's line will protect him much better than they did back in Super Bowl XLII, and he tears up New York's secondary for 250 yards. Manning has a big day as well, but I think it will come down to Brady elevating his play over the younger Manning brother (although I'm still a firm believer in Eli, not one of his many critics).
Helmets/Lombardi trophy: Tim Farrell/The Star-Ledger
Helmets/Lombardi trophy: Tim Farrell/The Star-Ledger