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It’s been four years since one of the best Super Bowl’s ever, when Eli Manning and the New York Giants put an end to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots undefeated season in a stunning upset. Ask Manning and he’ll tell you he plays at Tom Brady’s level and this season he’s put the Giants on his back. The Giants have been suffering from injuries all season, but still find themselves at 5-2 atop the NFC East.
“Well, the question was if I thought I was an elite quarterback and basically, I was just saying that I did,” Manning said. “I’m usually not into the business of ranking and rating quarterbacks and comparing myself to other guys. Looking back, I thought I gave an honest answer, and I don’t regret anything.”
Manning’s play this season has done nothing but back up those words. He’s ranked third with a 102.1 passer rating behind only Brady who’s at 104.4 and Aaron Rodgers who is number 1 at an astounding 125.7.
“He doesn’t get the recognition he deserves,” guard David Diehl said. “For us, it’s something that we see. It’s the way that he works, the way he prepares either out on the field or breaking down film or getting with the wide receivers or checking and making alerts and audibles at the line of scrimmage.”
Manning should be in for another big day as the Patriots have the worst pass defense in the league giving up 323.1 yards per game. The Patriots are looking to bounce back and keep pace with either the Bills or the Jets as they got whooped by the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. It was the worst offense performance the team has had all year.
“It just wasn’t a really good day for us in any phase of the game, in any area,” Coach Bill Belichick said. “We just didn’t do a good enough job. That’s really all there is to say.” The Steelers doubled New England’s yards 427-213 and Brady threw for a season low 198 yards with two TD’s. This week won’t be easier as the Giants front four have been playing good lately.
The Giants have the most sacks in the NFL with 26. The Giants are pretty banged up going into this game. Receiver Hakeem Nicks is nursing a hamstring, running back Ahmad Bradshaw has a foot injury, stud defensive end Osi Umenyioa has a shoulder issue and he alone has 6 sacks so far this season. Center David Bass is also suffering from a knee injury.
With Nicks potentially out the Giants may have to rely on WR Victor Cruz who has played well this season and is the second leading receiver on the team. ”Anytime you get an opportunity to go in there and play and have an opportunity to be the number one or two guy and make some big plays, you always want to be excited,” Cruz said.
“Myself and Mario (Manningham) and Devin Thomas and Michael Clayton are going to have to step in and fill that void.” Brady needs to see Wes Welker pick up his production. He leads the league in receptions at 57 and has racked up 824 yards and six trips to the end zone. However, the last two games he’s been virtually shut out only bringing in 12 receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown.
The key to this game will be the offensive line of the Patriots against the defensive line of the Giants. If Matt Light and company can protect Brady he should have no problem picking apart the Giants banged up secondary though they have only been giving up 225.1 yards per game good for 13th in the league.
If the Giants can get pressure on Brady they should be able to give Eli Manning ample opportunity to light up the league’s worst secondary. The Giants defense will give the Patriots problems at first, but Tom Brady should be able to figure things out and the Patriots will win a high scoring affair in Foxboro Stadium. Final Prediction: Giants 27 Patriots 34.
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