Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throw against the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Getty Images)more pics »New York Giants at New England Patriots (-3)
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN - February 5, 2012, 6:30 PM EST
In the history of pro football, it is decidedly rare that a team is given a chance for redemption in the Super Bowl. The New England Patriots have been handed that chance this year. In 2007, the Pats took an undefeated record into the desert in Tempe, Arizona to attempt to become the first team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins to finish an entire season undefeated. The Patriots were 18-0 including the playoffs that year and faced off against a New York Giants team that had advanced to the Super Bowl only as a wild card team, but, as arguably, the NFL's hottest team. The Giants did the unthinkable that Super Bowl Sunday, defeating the unbeaten Patriots 17-14 behind a last-minute drive punctuated by David Tyree's "velcro-catch" and Plaxico Burress' touchdown with :35 seconds left. That day will forever live ignominiously in New England football lore.
Jake Ballard #85 of the New York Giants scores against the defense of Tracy White #58 of the New England Patriots in the second half on November 6, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Getty Images)more pics »Fast-forward to present day: the rematch. Although not undefeated this year, the Patriots will look to avenge that heartbreaking Super Bowl loss of 2007 as they face off with the New York Giants for a second time in five years. The parallels between the two matchups are eerie. The Giants were, again, a wild card team this year. They won the NFC Championship with a field goal on the road in overtime just as they did in 2007. The Patriots were, again, the AFC's top seed this year. They were handed a bye week and beat two teams at home in Foxboro to advance to the big game.
Many faces have changed, but 23 players from both teams will return for The Rematch Bowl. Both franchise quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Eli Manning are back. Both coaches, Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin are back, along with a significant number of other big names: Vince Wilfork, Justin Tuck, Osi Umeniyora, and Wes Welker among others.
Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants scrambles as Rob Ninkovich #50 of the New England Patriots defends on November 6, 2011 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 24-20. (Getty Images)more pics »What has not changed is the Giants' vaunted pass rush. In 2007, the G-men wrote the blueprint for defeating New England's creative and deadly aerial attack: get to the quarterback. Brady was continually harassed and harangued that day and the Giants defensive line is even better now, having added Jason Pierre-Paul (16.5 sacks in 2011) and Chris Canty to an already formidable group. The Giants will attempt to get to Brady and force him out of the pocket and hit him as many times as possible.
The Patriots set a number of offensive records in 2007, but this year's offense may be even more dangerous. The additions of second-year tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez to the offense has made New England nearly impossible to stop. They are a matchup nightmare all over the field and the Giants will be hard-pressed to cover either tight end with man coverage. Add Welker and fellow wideout Deion Branch to the mix and the Patriots' receving corps is second to none.
Michael Boley #59 of the New York Giants knocks the ball out of the hands of Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots on November 6, 2011 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Getty Images)more pics »
Super Bowl 46 will come down to the end. This year should be higher scoring than in 2007, but the game will be just as tight. Look for Brady to get off to a quick start and build a lead to take into the 4th quarter, something he was not able to do in 2007. The Giants will look to punish with their defense and score enough to keep up with the Pats. Led by a strong group of wide receivers (Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Mario Manningham), Manning's offense should be able to move the ball well against the Pats' inexperienced secondary. The real test will be strength vs. strength: New England's offense vs. the New York defense. Can the Patriots' offensive line provide enough support for Brady to pick apart the Giants secondary? As is always the case, turnovers will play a major part in the game. Whatever team makes the crucial mistake in the 4th quarter will likely lose. Look for the Pats to add a creative gameplan on both sides of the ball and surprise the Giants with something special (onside kick, fake punt). This game is one of the hardest in recent Super Bowl history to call. I see offense ruling the day in Indy as both teams score either on returns, or on defense, at least once. I also see Eli Manning making a crucial error in the 4th quarter, and the Patriots getting revenge.
Aaron Hernandez #81 of the New England Patriots scores against the defense of Kenny Phillips #21 of the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium in the second half on November 6, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Getty Images)more pics »Patriots 38 Giants 34
The Pick: Patriots (-3)
Over/Under (55): Over
Coin Toss: Heads
First Score: Hernandez
First Touchdown: Hernandez
Super Bowl MVP: Brady
Last Week: 1-1 (0-2 ATS)
Season: 47-27 (28-29-1 ATS)
See photos from the AFC and NFC Championships: