Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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Georgia had a significant field-position and turnover-value advantage over South Carolina, but couldn't convert with the game on the line.

01 Feb 2008

Super Bowl XLII Preview

by Aaron Schatz

Super Bowl XLII is the biggest mismatch in Super Bowl history.

If you have been reading Football Outsiders for the last couple of weeks, this statement will not come as a surprise. I've written about it a few times, both here and at ESPN.com. There's no reason to go through all the numbers again.

Nonetheless, "Biggest mismatch" does not mean "no chance at victory."  Only an idiot thinks the Giants have a zero percent chance to win this game. After watching them play at a higher level over the past month, we know the odds of an upset are much better than anyone would have imagined five weeks ago. So now it is time to look at the actual matchup. What should we expect from the Patriots, and how will it be different from what we saw in that dramatic Week 17 game? If the Giants pull an upset, what will be the key? How can they take advantage of New England's weaknesses? What has specifically changed about the Giants over their past four games -- both for better and, in some cases, for worse?

For those who may be unfamiliar with the Football Outsiders stats, they are explained at the bottom of the page. Scroll down or click this link. Due to the Giants' improvement over the past four games, we're going to run our little stats tables for offense and defense with the Giants listed twice. One column lists their regular-season numbers. The other column lists their numbers solely from the last four games, along with where that number would rank if compared to how the other 31 teams did during the regular season. The Week 17 game against the Patriots shows up in both columns. The Patriots numbers (and Giants special teams numbers) are regular-season only; adding the postseason wouldn't change things much. When you look at the weekly DVOA charts, remember that defensive DVOA gets better as it gets lower -- so on the two defensive charts, the better games are the ones on the bottom.

Football Outsiders tracks so many stats that I can guarantee I missed something. Probably a few things. Nevertheless, there is a lot of information here. Giants fans are not going to be pleased with most of it. The main focus of this website is objective analysis. The numbers simply do not favor a Giants victory. There is no way around this. (Our game charting statistics are a bit subjective, so I went and checked: 13 different people charted Giants games this year, and 14 different people charted Patriots games.)

In an effort to keep the discussion of this game civilized and intelligent, I will make this request: Before you post a comment, go back and re-read the section you want to discuss. This time, wherever the Patriots are mentioned, imagine that the team going for a perfect season is actually the Jacksonville Jaguars. When the Giants are mentioned, imagine that we are instead talking about the Arizona Cardinals. If you still feel the same way about the game, go ahead and post.

If you want to talk about the Super Bowl during the game, make sure to visit our Open Game Discussion Board.

WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL

  NYG OFF
WK 1-17
NYG OFF
17-20
NE DEF
WK 1-17
TOTAL -2.5% (19) 29.3% (2) -6.1% (8)
PASS -10.1% (24) 56.4% (2) -6.9% (6)
RUSH 5.6% (7) 3.5% (8) -5.2% (15)
1st DOWN 3.2% (12) 26.3% (2) -7.4% (9)
2nd DOWN -3.6% (19) 30.4% (4) 5.5% (19)
3rd/4th DOWN -11.3% (24) 33.8% (4) -22.1% (3)
RED ZONE 3.0% (16) 71.7% (1) 3.3% (16)
LATE & CLOSE -3.4% (18) 13.1% (8) 0.0% (17)

How did the New York Giants go from a mediocre wild card team to NFC Champions in the space of four weeks? The answer is actually quite simple. The Giants aren't any better stopping the pass, and they've only improved slightly against the run. Their ground game is actually gaining fewer yards per carry. The difference is almost entirely the passing game, especially the performance of quarterback Eli Manning.

Starting with the final regular-season game against New England, Manning has been dramatically more accurate. In his first 15 games, he completed just 55 percent of his passes; in the last four games, his completion rate is 64 percent. During the regular season, he led the league in interceptions. In three playoff games, he has not thrown a single one.

Conventional wisdom says that Manning has improved by "taking what the defense gives him," rather than trying to force the big play when it isn't open. That's true, somewhat, but don't confuse "taking what the offense gives him" with "dumping the ball underneath." Manning is throwing more midrange passes, and fewer short ones.


Eli Manning by Pass Distance
  Short
(<6 Yards)
Medium
(6-15 Yards)
Deep
(16+ Yards)
Distribution, Weeks 1-16 47% 32% 21%
Distribution, Weeks 17-20 39% 45% 16%
Completion Percentage, Weeks 1-16 63% 56% 37%
Completion Percentage, Weeks 17-20 76% 67% 39%
(Does not include passes with no intended receiver.)

Because of the increased consistency, with more midrange passes and no interceptions, Manning is having more success, even when he isn't gaining as many yards per pass. Through Week 16, for example, the Giants were averaging 6.5 net yards per pass on first down, with a passing DVOA of -0.7%. Over the last four games, they are averaging just 5.4 net yards per pass, but their passing DVOA is 30.7%.

Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride is also calling fewer deep passes, and the ones he does call are of a different nature: curls and outs that sacrifice yards after catch for a higher completion percentage. Over the first 15 games, Giants receivers averaged 4.5 yards after catch on deep balls (more than 15 yards through the air). In the last four games, they've averaged 0.6 yards after catch.

Another change over the past month is that the Giants are favoring the sidelines instead of the middle of the field. The average team this year threw 35 percent of passes to the left, 25 percent to the middle, and 40 percent to the right. Giants passes were split evenly between the three directions instead (33%/33%/34%). Since Week 17, however, the Giants have thrown 34 percent of passes to the left, 25 percent to the middle, and 41 percent to the right -- almost exactly the league average.

Gilbride wants to avoid those deep, middle of the field post and seam routes against this defense in particular. The Patriots were the best defense in the NFL against passes to the "deep middle." They led the league with a 66 percent Success Rate, and allowed 8.9 yards per pass, second in the league to Arizona. The Giants offense was average on passes to the deep middle during the regular season. During the playoffs, Eli Manning has thrown only four deep middle passes, all incomplete.

However, the Giants are probably going to throw more to the left side in this game, simply because of Asante Samuel. Patriots opponents threw 42 percent of passes to the left side, the highest percentage in the NFL, and only 34 percent of passes to the right, the lowest figure in the league. Ellis Hobbs is usually on the offensive left, with Samuel on the offensive right. Based on the game charting we've collected so far, Samuel allowed just 4.7 yards per pass, which ranked second in the league among all cornerbacks with at least 40 charted passes (behind Fred Smoot, who had a shockingly good comeback season, but that's another issue for another time).

The Giants tend to move Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer around, rather than each receiver generally sticking to one side of the field, but it is no accident that in Week 17, Burress was on the left side more, and Toomer on the right. Ironically, the left-side passes to Burress went 1-for-5 with Manning's only interception of the game. The three passes listed as middle or right included two touchdowns and a 52-yard bomb in the middle of the field that was 16 yards longer than any other "deep middle" completion against the Patriots this year.

Manning discovered his newfound accuracy against the Patriots, but most of his success came during the first half of the game. The Giants only scored on one of their last four drives. The Patriots improved by switching to the one weakness Manning does not seem to have conquered over the last four weeks: the big blitz.

Big-blitzing Manning was an important part of Minnesota's game plan when they whipped the Giants 41-17 in Week 12, and Washington also used it to beat the Giants in Week 15. In the past four weeks, Manning has improved significantly against four or five pass rushers, but he still has problems if the defense sends six or seven. Over the last four weeks, Manning averaged 7.3 yards per play against four pass rushers and 6.2 yards per play against five, but just 4.3 yards per play against six or more.


Giants Passing Game, by Number of Pass Rushers
  Weeks 1-16 Weeks 17-20
Pass
Rushers
Defensive
Success Rate
Yards per
Play
Defensive
Success Rate
Yards per
Play
3 69% 5.4 43% 4.7
4 58% 5.7 48% 7.3
5 57% 5.2 49% 6.2
6+ 67% 5.3 60% 4.3

In the first Patriots-Giants game, the Patriots sent six pass rushers only once in the first half, but six times in the second half. On those seven plays, Manning completed three passes out of six, with a sack, for a net average of 0.7 yards per play. (The last Patriots big blitz did result in a three-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress, which made the game 38-35.)

There's one other place where the Giants' offense hasn't improved over the past few weeks: protecting Manning. In the first eight games of the year, the Giants had an Adjusted Sack Rate of 3.8 percent, sixth in the NFL (1.1 sacks per game). In the final eight games of the regular season, the Giants had an Adjusted Sack Rate of 6.2 percent, 18th in the NFL (2.4 sacks per game). In the playoffs, the Giants have an Adjusted Sack Rate of 6.1 percent (2.0 sacks per game). The Patriots defense ranked second in the league in Adjusted Sack Rate -- right behind the Giants.

We've gotten this far without even mentioning New York's running game, which for most of the season would have seemed completely backwards. The Giants ranked seventh in the league in carries by running backs, and had one of the league's top ground games during the regular season. The passing game is more interesting because of the complete turnaround over the past month; the running game has stayed pretty much the same. The Giants have actually dropped from 4.8 yards per carry to 3.7 yards per carry, but DVOA has stayed roughly the same because Giants are running more consistently, and faced harder run defenses over the past four weeks.

The Giants are particularly strong running up the middle, which has often been a weakness of the Patriots defense this season, but the Giants actually don't run up the middle that much. Only 39 percent of runs by Giants running backs were listed as middle or guard, making them just one of five teams below 40 percent. The Giants have also been very good running around both left and right end, and the Adjusted Line Yards numbers show that left end runs have a lot more success against the Patriots than right end runs do. After the Ravens nearly beat the Patriots, they told reporters that they knew they could run at their old teammate Adalius Thomas. The Adjusted Line Yards numbers suggest the Ravens are onto something, but the trick may be to seal Thomas off and run around him, not straight at him. (The Patriots are pretty good against left tackle runs.)

The Patriots also may have trouble with rookie big-play threat Ahmad Bradshaw, who missed the first Patriots-Giants game with an injury. The Patriots generally had trouble with smaller, shiftier running backs this season. They gave up 124 yards to Willie Parker on just 21 carries, and 56 yards to Lorenzo Booker on eight carries. Leon Washington had that 49-yard run when the Jets trotted out the option in Week 15, and of course, it took the Patriots roughly six hours to tackle Marion Barber, even though he was trapped in his own end zone. Remember Darren Sproles two weeks ago? It is a pretty safe bet that no matter the score of this game, at some point Bradshaw will have at least one highlight-reel big run.

A final note: Unlike in the NFC Championship game against Green Bay, the Giants can't count on the New England defense to hand them tons of free yardage with penalties. The Giants and Patriots finished 27th and 28th in penalties this year, respectively.

WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAVE THE BALL

  NE OFF
WK 1-17
NYG DEF
WK 1-17
NYG DEF
17-20
TOTAL 42.8% (1) -2.9% (14) -8.1% (6)
PASS 61.9% (1) 1.5% (15) -3.5% (10)
RUSH 18.2% (1) -8.4% (10) -13.9% (5)
1st DOWN 30.8% (1) -4.5% (12) -14.8% (5)
2nd DOWN 52.4% (1) -0.5% (12) -29.0% (1)
3rd/4th DOWN 49.6% (1) -3.5% (9) 41.0% (32)
RED ZONE 40.2% (1) 23.5% (27) 25.6% (29)
LATE & CLOSE 38.0% (1) -12.1% (8) -42.0% (1)

There are a lot of reasons why the Giants almost beat the Patriots in the final game of the regular season, but very few of them have anything to do with defense. The greatest offense in NFL history still scored on seven of their nine drives.

A good defense will take away what the offense does well, but that's impossible with the Patriots, because they do everything well. In the playoffs, San Diego and Jacksonville concentrated on taking superstar receiver Randy Moss out of the game -- but if you double-team Moss, you can't blitz quarterback Tom Brady. If you do try to blitz Brady, you'll leave slot receiver Wes Welker wide open. And if you just hang back to play zone, protecting against the big play, the Patriots will flip it to Kevin Faulk underneath. If they don't feel like throwing, they can always use the running game that led the league in DVOA. Laurence Maroney finished second in the league in Success Rate and sixth in DPAR, with 5.2 yards per carry over the last five games. As I said earlier this year: Even if you get to pick your poison, it is still poison.

The Giants defense needs to be worried about two trends: one that didn't change in the playoffs, and one that did. Both trends play right into the strengths of the New England offense.

The Patriots were the NFL's best offense in the red zone, while the Giants had a poor red-zone defense: 23rd in DVOA against the pass, 30th against the run. This has not changed in recent weeks. New England, Tampa Bay, Dallas and Green Bay got past the Giants' 18-yard line a total of 10 times. Eight of those drives ended in touchdowns, two in field goals. (Apparently, the way the Giants stop offenses in the red zone is to stop them right at the door to the red zone: the Patriots and Packers each kicked two field goals from the Giants' 18- or 19-yard line.)

To keep the Patriots out of the red zone, the Giants have to get stops on third down against the league's best third-down offense. But over the past four weeks, while everything else was going right for the Giants, their third-down defense deteriorated significantly.
During the regular season, the Giants allowed a third-down conversion rate of 35 percent, fifth in the NFL. However, over the last four weeks, the Giants have allowed a third-down conversion rate of 49 percent. That would have been the worst figure in the league during the regular season.

If we're supposed to assume that Eli Manning's dramatic improvement over the past four weeks is for real, isn't it also reasonable to assume that Giants' sudden problems getting off the field on third down are equally for real? This is perhaps the worst weakness that a defense can have against the New England Patriots, who converted a league-best 48 percent of third downs during the regular season and are 13-of-23 in their first two playoff games.

(By the way, this logic also works in reverse: If you think that Manning's past performance suggests that he really isn't as accurate as he has been in the last four weeks, and eventually he's going to have to throw another interception, then it also makes sense that the Giants defense is really nowhere near the bottom of the league on third down.)

Even if the Giants can stop the Patriots on third-and-short, don't forget that Bill Belichick is the most aggressive coach in the NFL on fourth downs. Although the NFL conversion rate on fourth down is less than 50 percent, the Patriots converted 15 of 21 opportunities this year, while the Giants defense allowed conversions on 10 of 16.

The Giants' pass rush was a major reason why the Giants' defense was so strong on third down during the regular season. The Giants led the league in sacks, and were one of just three teams with more sacks on third down (27) than first and second downs combined (26). (The other two were the Ravens and Jets.) The Giants were 14th in Adjusted Sack Rate on first down, eighth on second down, but first on third down by a colossal margin (12.6 percent -- no other team was above 9.5 percent). Of course, the Patriots also have one of the league's top offensive lines, finishing fourth in Adjusted Sack Rate.

It looks like the Giants' secondary has played much better during the postseason, but the numbers don't really support that idea. In general, the charting stats for the Giants corners show similar Success Rates over the past four weeks, with a bit of a drop in yards allowed per pass. Even Corey Webster, that favorite whipping boy of Giants fans, did very well in (a limited sample size of) regular-season charting data.


Game Charting Stats for Giants Cornerbacks
  Success Rate
Weeks 1-16
Yd/Pass
Weeks 1-16
Success Rate
Weeks 17-20
Yd/Pass
Weeks 17-20
Sam Madison 55% 7.5 50% 5.9
R.W. McQuarters 58% 8.2 60% 6.9
Aaron Ross 49% 7.0 53% 6.2
Corey Webster 63% 10.8 65% 7.3

There's been a lot of talk on ESPN about how the Patriots linebackers and safeties need to watch out for play-action fakes by the Giants. Well, the same goes double for the Giants linebackers and safeties. Patriots average 11.1 yards per play on offense, best in the league. The Giants defense allowed 7.0 yards per play, which was league-average. Over the last four weeks, they've allowed 7.3 yards per play, including two huge plays: the 90-yard touchdown by Donald Driver, and the 49-yard bomb dropped by a wide-open Randy Moss. (The following play, where Moss and Brady broke the touchdown records, was not play-action.)

The linebackers and safeties also need to watch out for passes to tight ends and running backs, an area of weakness for the Giants during the regular season. The Giants ranked 29th in DVOA against passes to running backs, 31st against passes to tight ends. During the regular season, the Patriots only threw to running backs on 14 percent of passes, the lowest figure in the league -- but in their last three games, they've thrown to running backs twice as often. Over the last three games, Kevin Faulk has 21 catches (no incompletes) for 182 yards, including nine first downs.

Faulk may get a couple carries too, but the Patriots' ground game is mostly about Laurence Maroney. Actually, it is mostly about the offensive line, which ranked first in the league in Adjusted Line Yards and was missing half its players when these teams played for the first time. Starting right guard Stephen Neal, starting right tackle Nick Kaczur, and blocking tight end Kyle Brady are all healthy now, and it will make a big difference. Maroney has gained 100 yards and at least four yards per carry in four of his past five games. The only exception was the game against the Giants -- partly because the Giants have a good run defense, but partly because Neal, Kaczur, and Brady were out.

The Patriots run best up the middle or behind the tackles, and they run up the middle a lot more often than the Giants do: 58 percent of the time (ninth in the league). One reason why the Patriots have so many runs up the middle is that they run more draw plays than any other offense in the league. (We charted 50 during the regular season.) That could be trouble for the Giants; after all, teams usually run a draw to take advantage of an aggressive pass rush, and the Giants have the best pass rush in the NFL. Overall, the Giants ranked third in the league against runs up the middle, but they were actually below average against draws, allowing 5.9 yards per carry. (NFL average on draws was 5.2 yards per carry.)

SPECIAL TEAMS

  NE NYG
DVOA 2.9% (7) -1.0% (20)
NE kickoff 7.3 (3) 3.5 (10)
NYG kickoff 11.0 (5) -6.0 (26)
NE punts 0.2 (13) -4.1 (22)
NYG punts -1.0 (18) 3.7 (8)
FG/XP -0.2 (19) -2.9 (24)

Conventional wisdom points to Domenik Hixon's kickoff return touchdown in the first Giants-Patriots game as evidence that the Giants have the advantage on special teams. That conventional wisdom could not be more wrong.

Hixon's touchdown kept the first game close, but it was an aberration: the only kickoff the Giants returned for a touchdown all year, and the only kickoff return touchdown the Patriots allowed all year.  It certainly didn't hurt Hixon that New England's Stephen Gostkowski had to kick off from the 15-yard line because of a celebration penalty on the preceding touchdown. If we combine Hixon's stats from New York and Denver, the Patriots kickoff return men averaged more yards per return (25.2) than Hixon did (24.9).

The Giants game was a major aberration for Gostkowski, normally one of the top two or three kickoff men in the league. For the season, Gostkowski averaged 64.5 yards per kickoff, giving the Patriots 6.2 points worth of field position compared to an average kicker. Tynes averaged just 61.8 yards per kickoff, costing the Giants 1.0 points worth of field position. (These numbers are different from the ones in the table because they assume an average return on every returnable kick, thus filtering out the coverage team.)

Gostkowski averaged only 60.5 yards per kickoff against the Giants, his second-worst game of the year. He's almost guaranteed to be better in the Super Bowl, particularly when we consider the effect of the thin Arizona air. Add a few yards onto the average Gostkowski kickoff, and Hixon has to take a touchback. Add a few yards onto the average Tynes kickoff, and you still have a kickoff that Ellis Hobbs can return.

At some point, Joe Buck will assuredly mention that Giants punter Jeff Feagles holds the all-time NFL record for punts that land inside the 20-yard line, and there's no doubt Feagles is better than the Patriots' Chris Hanson. However, the Giants had poor punt returns all season, so neither team really has an advantage in the punting game.

BIG BLUE vs. THE GHOSTS OF PATRIOTS PAST

Over the past two weeks, many observers have compared the Giants and the Patriots -- not this year's Patriots, but the Patriots from six years ago. The 2001 Patriots were 14-point underdogs against the St. Louis Rams, but they slowed down the "Greatest Show on Turf" and pulled off a shocking 20-17 upset. Now the Patriots are the juggernaut with a high-scoring offense, and the Giants are the scrappy underdog trying to prove they belong on the big stage.

It's not the best comparison. The 2007 Patriots might have an offense similar to that of the 2001 Rams, but that Patriots team wasn't coming from the same place as this Giants team. New England had the second seed in the AFC that year. They ranked 12th in DVOA, but ninth in weighted DVOA -- in fact, the only AFC team with a higher weighted DVOA was Pittsburgh. The Giants did not gradually improve over the course of the season, the way the 2001 Patriots did. They actually were going through their fourth straight second-half collapse until they suddenly flipped a switch and turned it on over the last month.

Another Patriots team is a better comparison for this year's Giants: the 1985 Patriots. That was the first team in NFL history to win three road playoff games on its way to the Super Bowl, a feat the Giants duplicated this year. Like the Giants, they had to beat the top two teams in their conference, including the archrival Miami Dolphins (read: Cowboys). That team was also led by a promising but inaccurate first-round quarterback, Tony Eason. Eason threw 17 interceptions during the regular season, but just like Eli Manning, he went three straight postseason games without a turnover. Like the Giants, the 1985 Patriots were massive underdogs against one of the greatest teams in NFL history. The Chicago Bears crushed them 46-10. Eason did not compete a single pass.

Most likely, the Giants won't pull a shocking upset like the 2001 Patriots, and they won't get blown off the field like the 1985 Patriots. (They certainly won't be pulling Eli Manning for Anthony Wright, the way the Patriots pulled Eason for Steve Grogan.) Instead, they'll end up like a third team from New England's Super Bowl past: the 1996 Patriots, a good team outclassed by a great team. The Patriots kept Super Bowl XXXI close for a while, but in the end, the Green Bay Packers were simply better, and they won by two touchdowns. This year's Patriots will probably dispatch the Giants in a similar fashion, completing their historic 19-0 season.

Not definitely. Just probably.

STATS EXPLAINED

DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) breaks down each play of the season and compares it to the NFL average based on situation and opponent. You'll find it explained further here. Since DVOA measures ability to score, a negative DVOA indicates a better defense and worse offense, and a positive DVOA indicates a better offense and worse defense.

Each team is listed with DVOA for offense and defense, total along with rush and pass, and rank among the 32 teams in parentheses. (If the DVOA values are difficult to understand, it is easy to just look at the ranks.) We've also listed each team's rating split by down, as well as performance in the red zone.

In some cases, we'll simplify things by referring to "success rate." This removes some of the adjustments, and just looks at how often the offense gains 45 percent of needed yards on first down, 60 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third or fourth down.

SPECIAL TEAMS numbers are different; they represent value in points of extra field position gained compared to NFL average. Field goal rating represents points scored compared to average kicker at same distances. All special teams numbers are adjusted by weather and altitude; the total is then translated into DVOA so it can be compared to offense and defense.

Each team also gets a chart showing their performance this year, game-by-game, according to DVOA. In addition to a line showing each game, another line shows the team's trend for the season, using a third-power polynomial trendline. That's fancy talk for "the curve shifts direction once or twice."

Numbers from the Football Outsiders game charting project are unofficial and are missing a handful of regular season games.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 01 Feb 2008

205 comments, Last at 08 Dec 2012, 2:14pm by Consuelo

Comments

1
by Jon (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 2:49am

I don't think the improved S/T play for the Giants is a total aberration. You're not going to return kicks for TDs with Reuben Droughns.

The fact that he was the team's primary KR for a good portion of the year is why I'm not drinking the Coughlin kool-aid. It took him that long to trust Bradshaw or to agree to activate Hixon after he was picked up on waivers?

2
by Matt (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 3:44am

If the Giants put up a fight for two and a half quarters or so and Eli doesn't go full-Easaon on us, I'll be happy. Seriously.

3
by Kalyan (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 6:34am

Some observations:

1. I am not aware if weather will influence the SB but it did play its part in the Week 17 game. Thus, i expect a significantly higher possibility of touchback on kick-off from SG in this game

2. While it is great that we have stat evidence that Eli Manning is the major factor for the turnaround in Giants' fortunes, therein lies the major issue for the team. Usually QBs don't do that well when they face BB & pats, the second time around esp. in the playoffs (I would love if someone can pull together the DPAR ratings) and that might really make this a non-contest

Disclosure: Musings of a Pats fan!

4
by Gerry (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 9:47am

Good writeup. I predict there will be less heat in this thread than in the "Giants are the worst team..." thread; the difference in tone of the two articles is pretty stark, even if the message is close to being the same.

5
by ammek (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 10:00am

No, I don't think you have missed anything. Very complete, very well-presented. Thank you.

6
by JFP (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 11:01am

The "Jacksonville Jaguars" are definitely going to kill that over hyped and over rated team from NY - the "Arizona Cardinals".

Best wishes "Arizona Cardinals"!

7
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 11:02am

Another reason 2001 Pats/2007 Jints comparison is bogus: Bill Belichick is not Mike Martz.

Ever since that game there have been numerous reports that Rams players were telling Martz the run was there for the taking, even to the point of pleading with him to change up the offense. No go.

I refuse to believe Belichick would be that unbending and unadjusting.

8
by billsfan (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 11:03am

I can't get past imagining the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl.

9
by Jets Fan (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 11:11am

Yeah -- definitely a better chance of having the superbowl in arizona, than arizona in the superbowl.

10
by Steve (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 11:52am

Re: #3

I was in personal attendance on 12/29 and there is no way the weather affected that game in the slightest. It was simply a non-issue. It was slightly chilly but there was no wind or precipitation. There were postgame quotes that Brady and Belichick agreed they had never seen Giants Stadium in such good weather conditions - talking not about the temperature but about the lack of wind or rain.

11
by Teddy (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 12:12pm

I think the point about the weather (and the thin air) was that it would affect the kicking game; that, I think is pretty uncontroversial.

For a much-less scientific analysis of the effect of weather on the Pats' passing game, click my name.

12
by mush (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 12:21pm

It's certainly a notable upset if the Giants win. It's *not* the biggest Super Bowl upset in history. The Jets over the Colts shocked the world and tipped it over, and the Colts were still shaken by it even when they won their own title two years later. The shape of the entire league was changed, arguably, by that game.

13
by Nicky P (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 12:47pm

Let's go Pats.

14
by lyford (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 12:51pm

"It’s certainly a notable upset if the Giants win. It’s *not* the biggest Super Bowl upset in history."

It looks like it to me.

"The Jets over the Colts shocked the world and tipped it over, and the Colts were still shaken by it even when they won their own title two years later. The shape of the entire league was changed, arguably, by that game."

I know that was shocking because there was a perception that the NFL was a much better league at that point, but if you look at the two teams' relative performances on the year, there's nowhere near the seasonal performance disparity that you see in this game. By almost any metric, this is the biggest mismatch in Super Bowl history. The biggest winning percentage difference, the biggest pythagorean winning percentage difference, the biggest point differential difference - on paper, these two teams are, based on the regular season, on difference levels.

None of which means that the Giants can't win, because they could. But it's a huge mismatch, and would be, I think, the biggest upset in the history of the Super Bowl.

15
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 12:54pm

Two posts of thoughts, here is the first:

* People are tripping over themselves looking to break out all the historical comparisons for this SB matchup. As I have said before, the team that I think they most resemble is the 2003 Panthers, which is promising for NY because that team maintained their play through the SB.

The games that I have heard many compare this matchup to are the Buffalo/NY game in 1990 and NE's first SB. Both paired efficient, tough defensive teams against unstoppable offensive juggernauts that also had some playmakers on defense. Myself, I can totally see the comparison, with the exception of one major detail.

Bill Belichick is on the wrong sideline.

BB was prominantly involved in taking down both of those offensive giants. Coughlin is a fine coach and I'm sure that his staff is full of competent guys as well. But I have little doubt that if you took BB off of either prior underdog the favorite's chances of winning would have improved greatly. Then, go one step further and add Bill to the favorite.....

* By now we all know that NY's approach to the first NE game was a major catalyst in their playoff run. Obviously they derived significant benefit from that game.

However, I have a different take on that, now that the teams are facing off once again. I personally believe that the earlier matchup was actually NY's best played game in their last month; better than the GB game, better than the TB game and most certainly better than the Dallas game. Anecdotally, I have noticed that when one team plays at their highest level against an oppenent, it is a major advantage to that opponent if they face each other again.

Some examples of this are Pitt/NE on Halloween of 2004, Indy/Pitt the following year, NE/SD this year. I'm sure you could easily find examples disproving this, but it seems to have played out how I expected it when I notice it. I just think that NE has an edge in the fact that they saw NY's best up close while NY saw NE at about a C+ level.

* Piggybacking on the previous though and similar to last year's Indy playoff game, NE has the advantage of not being surprised by NY's improved play. Just like I thought last year that some teams were surprised by Indy's improved D and failed to make adjustments, I think that NY's playoff opponents - TB and Dallas, anyway - may have been caught offguard by NY's elevated play. NE will have the benefit of both better persepective and 4 games of film.

16
by Doug Farrar :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 12:55pm

In the Super Bowl III discussion (and this came up in the Conference Championship Audibles), we may be quibbling over the difference between "upset" and "mismatch". Colts-Jets was never a mismatch; it was an upset because of the long-held belief that AFL talent was inferior to NFL talent. In truth, and as people like Vince Lombardi who had studied both leagues knew, it was more that the '66 and '67 Packers that won Super Bowls I and II were just better than everybody else in any league. The Jets were a fundamentally sound team based far more on rushing and defense then they were given credit for. I don't know what DVOA would have said about the Colts and Jets in early 1969, but I suspect the numbers would not have pointed to a mismatch at all.

17
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 1:01pm

Second Post

(first, a word of disclosure, I predicted NE to beat Jax 41-17 and SD 35-24. Obviously I am not on the best run right now, so take everything I say with a huge grain of salt. Although, in fairness to me, NE likely beats Jax by that type of score if Gost hits the FG ans Welker holds on to the ball. And how was I supposed to know that Brady was sick? Bah!)

No matter what excuses I or any Pats fan wants to toss in Eli's direction, he most certainly has improved his play greatly in the last month. In my opinion he has to thank the boys up front for much of his success. Ever since the last NE game, NY's OL has given Manning tons of time to throw the ball and he has stepped up as a result. Even when flushed from the pocket, Eli has made some terrific plays on the run, particularly to his right.

However, I still have some questions about him. Against GB, Manning rarely had to look in any direction aside from Burress who dominated Al Harris. Burress was awesome in that game, catching 11 of 13 passes - 11 catches being one more than the entire rest of the team.

Now, obviously Burress' catches count, but I found it interesting that Manning was 11/13 for 154 yards throwing to Burress and 10/27 for 100 yards throwing to everyone else. When Dallas took Burress away the week before, Manning had OK numbers, but the offense was clearly not as much of a threat. This leads me to believe that Eli isn't quite at the level that people are making him out to be. The key for NE will be limiting Burress' touches while getting enough pressure to make Manning hurry through his secondary reads.

* Another Eli thing I noticed while rewatching some games: He still seems to lose grasp on the specific situation at hand sometimes. I will give you two examples. First, NY's final TD drive against NE was markedly slow with Manning taking several seconds off the clock unnecessarily prior to every snap. There were three plays on the drive - none of which being longer than 12 yards - that at least 30 seconds ran off the clock before the next snap. Another 7 yard pass saw them take 26 seconds off before the next snap.

Against GB, after Plax dropped a perfect throw by Manning at the two yard line, Manning scrambled for a 2 yard gain despite the team being out of timeouts. He then failed to even throw the ball on 4th down despite having about 7 seconds to do so. Sure the coverage was good and sure GB made Manning move in the pocket, but it is 4th down with only 5 seconds left. The odds of a pick being returned for a TD - the only negative in that situation as any return into NY territory would also run out the clock - are infintesimal compared to the chances that a receiver would make a play.

Long story short, Manning will play well if NY's OL gives him the same time they have in the last month. He will play great if that happens combined with Burress being open repeatedly. But if NE can get even decent pressure while minimizing Burress' opportunities, I think that Eli could take a step back.

* Rewatching the GB game surprised me in another way - the Packers played a lousy game. They never gave Harris any help despite it being obvious early that he had no chance against Plax. Their DL was largely dominated by NY's OL (which I credit NY more than blame GB). Favre was pretty terrible despite getting good time on most plays. Every time the defense made a play they would also commit an unnecessary penalty giving NY more chances. NY also recovered 4 of their 5 fumbles. I originally walked away from the game thinking that NY gave an impressive beatdown to a good team. The second time gave me a different impression. I can't see them playing like that against NE and even staying competitive.

* A few times this season, I have been taken aback by something a player or coach said. For instance, when BB said, "On Sunday, that's when we'll make our statement" prior to the first SD game, I knew that they were going to kill them. I'm getting the same feeling now watching the Giants trip all over themselves to convice everyone that they deserve to be here and they can beat NE while nothing comes from NE's locker room. We don't even hear a "Let them say what they want, we're gonna do our talking on the field." Just a giddy Bill Belichick smiling and laughing at the podium. I can't explain it, but I can sense a tremendous amount of confidence from their behavior.

* More on the Carolina comparison, I think this gives me more confidence. Yes, the game was very close with the Cats even having a late lead in the game, but NE really dominated that game early and blew some of their chances. In the first half, they missed two easy FGs and had another makable FG taken away by a stupid, stupid play call (the end around on 3rd and 3). Add to that the lousy squib kick that lead to Carolina's half-ending FG and NE really outplayed Carolina to the tune of a 23-7 score but went in at halftime only up 14-10. I still maintain that if that game was played 100 times, Carolina would have won 10, played a close game 25 times and would have been blown out 65.

Obviously, by that same token, Carolina did play it close which means that the opposite point can be made as well. I just think that this NE team is much better and won't blow so many opportunites.

* For all the talk about about NY's defense in the playoffs, I thought they played a better game against NE than they did GB. They were consistently in Brady's face and I thought that they played the run as well against NE as they did against GB - GB just inexplicably stopped running even though the game was close throughout. I thought GB showed signs of success running in the second half, but maybe I was wrong.

Anyway, NY played as well defensively against NE before as they have in the playoffs, but they still gave up 38 points despite NE missing their right side of the line, Kyle Brady and not having a 3TE package available. Even if NY plays better, I find it hard seeing NY holding NE under 30 points in a dome.

Further along this line, NY allowed NE to score on 7 of 9 real possessions. Along with this, NE's shortest first half TOP drive was equal to NY's longest. The kept it close for as long as they did because they kept NE out of the EZ in the first half and the KO return. But the signs of NE's 22-0 run in the second half were there early on.

* In conclusion, I just think that NE is too strong for the Giants. I see a full circle conlusion of a 38-14 win against a NY team. As always, I welcome your thoughts.

18
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 1:19pm

Can't get away from New England fatalism. Regardless of what all the numbers say (sorry guys), I just can't see the Pats walking away with this one. So I guess (because of the numbers) I won't be super-surprised if they do walk away with it, but I personally expect it's going to be a nailbiter.

The one thing that would surprise me is if Jersey/A blows out NE.

19
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 1:37pm

Despite the 21-12 score against the Chargers, it still seems to me that by far the best chance to beat the Patriots is 35-31 or 37-34, and not 24-21 or 27-24. For purposes of viewing pleasure, I can only hope Coughlin has decided to be utltra-aggressive on offense. Who knows? Perhaps if Norv Turner had been, the Patriots would have been back in Boston this weekend.

20
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 1:42pm

Aaron, love the analysis! One of your best pieces in recent memory!

A couple of thoughts. If Aaron is right, and the way to rattle Manning is the big blitz, expect to see a lot of Jarvis Green on Sunday, probably at the expense of Tedy Bruschi. Bruschi is still good against the run, but has tailed off in his pass rushing skill, and is a liability in coverage. Green is pretty much a one-trick pony--passable against the run but an above-average outside rusher--but if you're going to be rushing six a lot, you'd rather be rushing with Green, Seymour, Wilfork, Warren, Vrabel, and either Seau or Thomas or Harrison, than put Bruschi on the field and be forced to rush with two of Seau/Thomas/Harrison and trust Bruschi to cover the quick read. Putting Green on the field hurts your runD a little, but probably helps a bit against Bradshaw because Green is a quick player who is better at handling speedy outside runners, whereas Bruschi is better at plugging holes up the middle for more powerful, downhill runners like Jacobs.

That being said, I don't really expect to see a lot of big blitzes early. Even if Manning struggles against them, the big blitz only works consistently if you can keep the other team guessing. If the Patriots come out big blitzing early and often, then New York will simply switch to a max protect or something close to it, keeping seven or eight back to block and trusing the size of their WR's, especially Burress to give them an edge over the little Patriots DB's, especially Hobbs. If Manning sits back there with the plenty of time that seven or eight guys can give him, even with a six-man blitz, and waits for Burress to beat Hobbs, and does this three plays in a row, he'll eventually win the matchup.

I would expect the Pats to come out more conventionally defensively, and save the big blitzes to surprise the Giants with when they are in a "must-score" situation sometime in the second half.

21
by Joseph (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 1:56pm

Re:18, yes I think the biggest surprise to this SB would be the Giants winning by more than 1 score.
My prediction, as a fan of neither team, is that the score stays close, but that the Giants are still dominated everywhere EXCEPT on the scoreboard, a la the other 2 NE playoff victories.

22
by patriotsgirl (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 2:44pm

18: Yeah, I agree. I was thinking this morning that I just don't see this as a blowout. The 2003-04 Pats rarely blew folks out (heck, even the 20-3 win over Indy was 6-3 at halftime), and the games the last two weeks have reminded me of those kinds of Pats wins.

Although this team doesn't have the same composition (especially on offense), its last real blowout was week 11 in Buffalo.

And, other than the 2000 Giants (and the 2002 Raiders, which were an anomaly because of the Gruden situation), Super Bowl blowouts seem to be a rarity these days.

23
by Joe T. (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 3:08pm

I really feel that an Irrational Tom Brady - Eli Manning Thread would round out this preview nicely.

24
by Dev (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 3:50pm

That was a great article. Among the many jaw-dropping performances of the Patriots, I remain mystified at their blitzing success. Perhaps you could do an analysis of that for us (me)? It seems that whenever they blitz they get someone running in untouched, while I see many other teams rush 6 and have them all blocked. What's their secret?

25
by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 4:01pm

Oswlek, it may be the 2 week layover, but I'm also smelling the blowout...or at least big points...and it's assuming 2 things. The biggest assumption is that New England is installing a defensive plan that improves defense against the possession passing game. Defense of the possession passing game since week 12 against Philly has been very bad, and I'm assuming there is something installed to correct it - as long as it doesn't interfere with avoiding the big play or stopping the run. Hopefully it doesn't mean always having to rush 6, as the defensive success chart above might indicate.
The other assumption is that the O-Line, TE's and RB's will be better prepared against the Giants D-Line. It's a good secondary, but I don't see it keeping up with all of the skill personnel if Brady has 5 seconds every snap.

On the other side, of course, I do believe the Giants can win. I wouldn't watch if I didn't think so. If I come back here Monday after a Giants win, we will be discussing a -3 turnover +/- and 2 Giants TD's on defense and/or special teams. To be honest, that would be the most exciting result for the general public: big turnovers, and big TD's on defense and special teams.
Here's me hoping for a "boring" game.
Pats, 46-24?

26
by Ron Holl (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 4:08pm

Another plus for New England's offense I thought would be mentioned (here and elsewhere) is the proficiency of Brady to Moss in early season/warm weather games that definitely trailed off as the season/weather got colder and nastier. Some of that can be attributed to teams doing more to disrupt Moss at the line and multiple coverages but it's not like he was just seeing man to man early on. I would expect to see Tom and Randy have a productive day given the absence of those negatives.

27
by azibuck (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 4:36pm

The 2007 Patriots might have an offense similar to that of the 2001 Rams, but that Patriots team wasn’t coming from the same place as this Giants team. New England had the second seed in the AFC that year. They ranked 12th in DVOA, but ninth in weighted DVOA — in fact, the only AFC team with a higher weighted DVOA was Pittsburgh. The Giants did not gradually improve over the course of the season, the way the 2001 Patriots did.
Aaron said two weeks ago that it was the biggest upset in SB history. Bigger than SB III. No one can dominate or upset like the New England Patriots. They're the greatest team ever, and I don't mean just in 2007.

28
by Will (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 4:37pm

The Patriots only care about TEAM. And thats why they win.

Every other NFL team is filled with selfish primmadonnas who care about their stats and getting credit.

Just ask Bill Simmons.

side note: remember when Teddy Bruschi was the world's greatest family man because he was seen playing with his kids? Isn't he basically risking his life to be a subpar linebacker?

TEAM

29
by Keas (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 4:52pm

The opening statement:

"Super Bowl XLII is the biggest mismatch in Super Bowl history."

is not supported by the final prediction:

"The Patriots kept Super Bowl XXXI close for a while, but in the end, the Green Bay Packers were simply better, and they won by two touchdowns. This year’s Patriots will probably dispatch the Giants in a similar fashion..."

Why not go out on a limb in support of the oepning statement with a 46-10 type prediction? We've certainly seen some men against boys Superbowls over the years where the game was basically over at halftime: Niners vs Chargers for example and many others.

If we really are watching the greatest-ever mismatch then surely the end result is a blowout right?

30
by Will (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 4:56pm

re: 30/Keas

The Patriots won't win 46-10 because they never run up the score. They don't care about stats. They don't care about being cute (oh dear, there's another unnecessary Vrabel TD catch). They only care about TEAM.

31
by PDoherty (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 5:21pm

Great stuff. I have a strange view of this game. I grew up in MA as a Pats fan but my Dad was an old school NYG fan from way back. So the Giants have always been my NFC team and the Pats my favorite team. I lived through a lot of bad Giants years until Simms and Joe Morris and the Wes Welker of old, Phil McConkey showed up, and saw Ray Perkins go and a guy named Parcells come into the Meadowlands.

I haven't read any posts, just the 2 articles/writeups in here and the only thing I think I would add that is a major reason for Eli's recent success and "accuracy". I haven't looked at it for sure, but I think The Giants had pretty close to a league leading dropped passes number at one point and since that final game of the season against the Pats, Eli's WR's have stepped up thier efforts for him, big time.

From Burress and Toomer to Steve Smith and even Kevin Boss especially in that Pats game.

32
by Obeaast (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 5:29pm

Will, obsessing over the most idiotic angle that the mainstream media chooses to take on the Patriots is just silly and masochistic, unless you actually enjoy it for some reason. And anyway, the current media response to the pats is a lot closer to "OMG SUPERSTARS!" than to the whole team angle, which is really a storyline from yesteryear.

As for Simmons, you're badly distorting what he writes -- yes, he has a few lines of inane "they win cause they wanna win" stuff in his current column, but he also has a reasonably detailed explanation for their success involving salary caps and personnel choices that I think is reasonable.

33
by erik fast (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 5:40pm

#28/31 Will, I have been reading you posts here for a while and I don't remember you being so irrationally bitter. What's that all about? I mean come on, get over it already. The Pats are about team and not individual glory and Bruschi is not a sub par LB as part of the Pats D. As far as risking his life, he isn't risking his life any more than Keven Everett was. The docs game him a clean bill of health and said he is fine to play football. I don't expect unsubstantiated cheap shots on this site.

34
by black (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 5:41pm

My truthiness tells me that the Giants will win. No i can't back it up with all these fancy "stats" and "facts". I know in my gut and thats better than whatever numbers you make up.

Peyton Manning is the one who alerted the authorities about spygate, its part of his plan to humilate Tom Brady, he set up the trade for Randy Moss so Brady would be tempted to throw the ball around and set all these records. But he knew Brady would be ready for him in playoffs this year, after he choked away his chance last year. So he ducked him like Ric Flair in his prime, because he knew the ultimate embarrassment was not another lost to Peyton Manning thats actually commendable, he's a superbowl champ. But to go down in front of millions and millions to his plucky- try -hard little brother, there is no way he comes back from that. The dynasty will die-nasty.

Long live the sons of Manning the Elder

Giants win
Happily Ever After

35
by mush (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 5:49pm

One thing that makes a stat analysis very difficult on the Colts and Jets in 1968 is the fact that the leagues were still separate and didn't play crossover games - they only met in the Super Bowl. I realize this is obvious to older readers in the forum or anyone with an interest in league history, but there may be some newer fans here (or younger fans) who don't realize this. Comparing Jets and Colts in 1968 is a slippery slope, no doubt. (I think it's fair to assume the NFL clearly had a talent edge, it's just a matter of how large the edge was.)

36
by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 5:57pm

Before going too far off topic, read above and count to see if it is Pats fans or anti-Pats fans trolling in this thread...
27,28,29:
How about adding some perspective? Here's a topic:
1. What have the Giants done to become the worst team in the league on 3rd and 4th down (week's 17-20), yet still make it to the SuperBowl? and
2. What specifically needs to be done to improve it?

37
by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 6:03pm

#36
The closest (popular) modern example I would consider to the comparison of AFL and NFL is American League and National League Baseball. Although there is interleague play, it is hard to get a good overall perspective, even though it was widely thought that the American League was better than the National League...Then those odds were defied when St Louis took Detroit down fairly easily.

38
by vis (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 6:06pm

One nitpick...

"If we combine Hixon’s stats from New York and Denver, the Patriots kickoff return men averaged more yards per return (25.2) than Hixon did (24.9)"

I have to question the decision to combine stats from two different return teams, unless their overall performance was identical. Otherwise, Hixon's performance as a Bronco is much less telling than his performance as a Giant.

And really, is 1 foot a statistically significant difference in average return yardage? Shouldn't you be saying their return averages are effectively the same?

Anyways, superb article. Almost good enough to make me forget the "worst superbowl team" mail-in job from last week. ;)

39
by vis (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 6:22pm

Oswlek,

The Pats seem to have broken their tradition of only making statements on the field...

Link in my name... Trademarking "19-0 Perfect Season" might constitute making a premature statement, no?

Otherwise, great comments as usual.

40
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 6:26pm

Please do not feed the trolls.

They make a good discussion go south fast.

For the record, so far in this thread:

Posts off topic: 2
Posts making general, non-obnoxious comments: 8
Posts making interesting-in-depth analysis: 20
Posts by Obnoxious Anti-Pats Trolls: 4
Reasoned responses to Troll Posts: 3
Posts by Obnoxious Pats Fans: 0

Let's keep those last three line items to an absolute minimum...

41
by Will (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 6:31pm

re: 34/erik

I probably am bitter. Not sure why. I love me my FO, but the string of podcasts with Simmons beat me down a little bit. CANNOT... ESCAPE... Boston Vortex of self-referentiality and fandom... I love what FO has done to cleanse football discourse from most of this garbage however, which is why I spewed my random venom in this forum.

Anyway, its all good, and this is probably verging on thread jacking.

As for Bruschi/Everett... I don't quite see them as total parallels. Bruschi was an older player, was much more financially secure, had a growing family. Moreover, I haven't heard that KE is going to be returning to the game, either. As for the health reports and clearances to play... eh, I tend to think their meaningless. So who knows, maybe its all nothing. Perhaps we're as far apart on this subject as Wes Welker's eyes.

42
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 6:32pm

Dev,

I haven't done a detailed analysis of how the Patriots blitz, but I do watch a lot of Patriots. It seems like some of their blitzing success comes from the fact that they don't always do it. Blitzing works best when you surprise the other team--when you see a blitz get picked up it's usually because the other team saw it coming.

There's two other factors contributing to the Pats blitzing success--one is that the play a 3-4, which makes blitzing more effective in general, because the O-line doesn't know who's coming even in a standard rush, and when you add a blitzer the blocking assignments become really confused.

The other factor is that the Pats this season have had Rodney Harrison playing essentially as a hybrid S/LB, so he's far more involved in the pass rush than he's ever been, and they've been playing Vrabel, their best pass rusher, exclusively on the outside this year, and rushing him almost every down. This is a change from previous years and could account for some of their blitzing success.

All that said, I have seen plenty of times when the Pats do blitz and get picked up, and then the opposing QB finds an uncovered TE or slot receiver over the deep middle. Their pass rush is reasonably effective (FO numbers think so, at least), but it is mortal.

43
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 6:36pm

Will,

I just finished reading Bruschi's book Never Give Up and it talks a lot about his decision to come back and play. From what I understand, he had to go to multiple independent doctors, all of whom agreed that he was no more at risk than any other player--there was zero chance of the stroke happening again after his surgery. In fact, he's safer playing now than before his stroke, because that hole in his heart could have caused a stroke at any time in his career, and it was only luck that his stroke wasn't more debilitating or fatal than it was. Now that the hole in his heart has been repaired, he's actually less likely to have a stroke and die playing.

44
by admin :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 6:52pm

This thread is not about Spygate. Please do not post about it. We're done discussing it. I've deleted those posts.

45
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 7:02pm

Ah -- looks like Spygate stuff has been ruled threadjacking and is being sent to the bitbucket (which is not unreasonable) -- the post count has dropped from 45 to 43 in the past two minutes. So watch those "Re:" numbers :)

Back to the game...

I'm sorry its not incisive analysis, but I really don't know what to expect from the Pats D. I do think the O should be able to hang 30+ on the G-Men (they did it under worse conditions, with the right side of the OL and two TEs missing, back in December). But while the Pats D has seemingly tightened up in the red zone (and of course Belichick would call it the "red area" just to sound less cool :), I say (like the FO people say about Eli) "look at the whole body of work". And the whole body of work for Pats redzone defense this year is pretty damned poor.

46
by Will (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 7:30pm

re: MJK

Point taken. Thread-jacking over.

Eli regression versus third-down defense regression. A nation waits.

47
by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 8:02pm

If the SBIII upset factor was inflated by a general perception of the Jets facing weaker competition, and DVOA on this match up is based on better-supported opponent adjustments, then it's probably a well supported case to say the Giants winning would be a bigger upset.

But I'd love to see the DVOA for the AFL/NFL in 1969 to be sure. Maybe we'd all be surprised.

48
by ammek (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 8:40pm

Emphasizing Doug's point that "upset" is not the same as "mismatch", the second-biggest Superbowl surprise (after III) was when the Broncos beat Green Bay in XXXII. Yet DVOA had both teams about level. Punters were blinded by irrelevant stats like the NFC's long win streak and the fact that Denver was a wildcard.

But even so, for an underdog to win, the favorite has to make dumb mistakes. Linked is a fascinating article about the Packers' meltdown during that game; much has also been written about Mike Martz's obstinacy in XXXVI (though I've never read much criticism of Don Shula's tactics in III or Bud Grant's in IV).

This is why the upset feels unlikely in 2008. If one of the coaches is going to do something dumb, go to the corner if you think it will be Belichick.

49
by Gerry (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 9:07pm

"But I’d love to see the DVOA for the AFL/NFL in 1969 to be sure. Maybe we’d all be surprised."

Without inter-league games, I doubt it could even be meaningfully calculated.

50
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 9:42pm

Nice article, Aaron. And ammek, that Packers article was interesting too.

51
by admin :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 9:46pm

Super Bowl III is primarily seen as an upset because of the fact that people at the time believed the NFL was far superior to the AFL. However, it is also true that from a numerical standpoint -- based on the limited data we have -- Super Bowl III was a mismatch. The Jets were 11-3 (10.1 Pythagorean) while the Colts were 13-1 (12.9 Pythagorean). However, the fact that the two leagues did not play each other means doing a comparison isn’t entirely accurate.

What’s strange is that three of the four AFL-NFL Super Bowls were won by the "inferior" team, if we look only at win-loss record or Pythagorean wins. It is pretty easy to imagine that people saw 9-4-1 (10.5) Green Bay beating 13-1 (11.7) Oakland in Super Bowl II and said "Wow, the NFL is far better than the AFL." But clearly that was not the case, because Super Bowl III was not an aberration. The AFL also won Super Bowl IV when Kansas City (11-3, 11.8) beat Minnesota (12-2, 12.9). Overall, those first four Super Bowls are pretty hard to judge.

52
by Boston Bulldog (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 10:10pm

The best evidence that we have regarding the AFL vs NFL of the late 1960's is to look at the games between those two groups of teams in 1970, the year the merger was completed.

The old AFL teams went a composite 19-39-2 against the old NFL teams, and an additional 0-2 in the playoffs. (Note: this is not the same record as the AFC vs NFC. This counts the Colts, Steelers, and Browns as old NFL teams.)

Using this one could estimate that a 7-7 AFL team could be expected to go 4-9-1 in the NFL, or that a 7-7 NFL team might go 9-4-1 in the AFL.

This would imply that the SBIII Jets probably would have had an over .500 record in the NFL, but that 11-3 inflates their record considerably. Perhaps 9-5 might be more like it. (This assumes a roughly similar quality ratio in 1968 as in 1970.)

53
by Thinker (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 11:00pm

#52 Boston:
Interesting thought, but your numbers only work if the talent level is evenly distributed between strong and weak teams in each league.

Consider a league with a pair of great A+ teams and an assortment of D- teams VS another league with three A- and a bunch of B+ teams. League two is much stronger overall, but their top team "should" be a SB underdog.

On a whole different note: One of the biggest SB surprises for me was the Oakland win over the Hogs from DC. Apparently, RaiderJoe forgot to tell his boys that they were outclassed, because that game was very onesided in the opposite direction from my expectations.

Enjoy the game folks.

54
by Doughboy (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 11:07pm

Big Giants fan, not expecting much on Sunday... will say this, though, since I haven't seen anyone else say it: the slowing down of the Giants running game in the playoffs seems to me due largely to the fact that Jacobs has looked noticeably slower since around week 14. I'm hoping the week off has helped him.

55
by Vermont Refugee (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 11:23pm

The dissection of Eli Manning's improved accuracy was excellent, but I'm shocked that FO would carry over an error that I've seen elsewhere:
"He’s almost guaranteed to be better in the Super Bowl, particularly when we consider the effect of the thin Arizona air." The altitude of Phoenix AZ is about 1100 feet, which is almost the same as Atlanta and less than 400 feet higher than Dallas, Indy, or Nashville. Altitude affects begin to get significant at Denver (5883 feet), but the humidity and temperature at game time would have a larger affect on punting distance than any external factor

56
by Herm? (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 12:33am

re: Pats Blitz
I could use access to stats regarding the Patriots when they rush 5+. I'm probably wrong, but I don't get the same feeling that they have such success when blitzing. You see Wilfork and Warren in the backfield more often than Bruschi or Thomas. I'd also attribute that to thinking they don't blitz but for the occasional Seau run blitz and a Harrison Safety blitz, with Vrabel and Thomas (and Colvin earlier) sprinkled in here and there. I'm referring to years past when they spent entire 4th quarters of games sending the house after unprepared qb's.
Do they blitz infrequently but successfully, or am I way off base here?

57
by DoubleB (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 12:35am

3:

"Usually QBs don’t do that well when they face BB & pats, the second time around esp. in the playoffs (I would love if someone can pull together the DPAR ratings) and that might really make this a non-contest."

You mean like Rivers and the Chargers 2 weeks ago? With about 8 minutes left in the 3rd quarter the Chargers had outgained the Pats by 100+ yards, scored 4 times, had forced 4 punts and 2 INTs and had given up only one long scoring drive to the World's Greatest Offense. They did this with a coaching staff that is often denigrated on this site (Turner and Cottrell), a QB playing with a ruptured ACL, their star RB on the bench, and with their top receiver (Gates) virtually limping around the field.

Whatever gameplan the Patriots came up with for the game, the Chargers had a better one. To the Patriots credit, they made the necessary adjustments and dominated the last quarter and a half.

Secondly, I think this sells Belichick short. I don't believe he needs a "live look" in order to come up with an effective game plan against the Giants. It will help him, but does anyone think the Giants would be better off if Week 17's game had never been played because Belichick won't know how to defend Eli and the Giants?

58
by Kyle (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 1:10am

“Usually QBs don’t do that well when they face BB & pats, the second time around esp. in the playoffs (I would love if someone can pull together the DPAR ratings) and that might really make this a non-contest.”

Yet again, most QBs he faces a second time are opponents within the division. JP Losman, Drew Bledsoe, Chad Pennington, Kellen Clemens, Brooks Bollinger, the Dolphins' Poo Poo Platter of QBs over the past 6 years...

Not exactly the epitome of talent.

59
by Mike (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 2:28am

In case anybody's wondering what your favorite authors are predicting for the weekend, see the link.

60
by nat (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 10:14am

60: Very nice.

My favorite is the Ayn Rand. It gets the tone perfectly, as Belichick lectures Coughlin:
The muscular coach set his prominent jaw, and his hard, handsome eyes glistened. "Why, Tom," he asked with a smile, "isn't winning what the NFL is all about?"

"...How am I supposed to go on the field with my weak players or my simple, predictable playcalling?? We'll be destroyed! I tell you it isn't fair! We deserve to be helped! This is social treason!"

Or Jane Austen:
In the shade of the gray branches, she put pen to paper. "I love you, Tom Brady," it began. "Though others call you wicked."

Forsooth.

61
by Brian (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 1:16pm

Wouldn't the week 17 game contradict the notion this is the "biggest mismatch?"

62
by Matt (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 1:43pm

31. There were eight drops in the Packers game. They're still the Giants. Boss lost one in the end zone and Steve Smith blew a couple of chances, plus an Amani Toomer how-did-you-miss-that special.

I am not sure how much big-blitz can be brought - the Giants have had some success with Shotgun draw plays and while Eli can't beat them himself I'd be curious to see what the Giants look like rushing against a blitz.

63
by terry (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 2:36pm

arron biggest mismatch lol the pooblem with dvoa is it is a average of good and bad preformances if you used one game dvoa it would show a range of possible preformance the giants played very inconstint this season not always their "A" game also teams divisions are very diferent afc east is a joke while nfc east is very competive if you looked at single preformance this game can be very competive if giants play an "A" game remember men play this games not past numbers I think this super bowl will be a war we will be glad we saw not a mismatch

64
by admin :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 2:38pm

Let's try this again.

The point of this article is to discuss the Super Bowl, a game of football being played on a field on Sunday, February 3, 2008.

The only way to keep this thread as an intelligent discussion of football strategy instead of having it dissolve into name-calling and stupidity is to block threadjacking.

Trying to change this discussion into a discussion of something else is NOT APPRECIATED.

We'll figure out some way to discuss that other thing somewhere on the site, and you will all be allowed to call each other names, swear at each other, and dissolve into unreadable garbage both pro and con. Not here, OK? Thanks.

65
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 2:56pm

So now any criticism of the censorship policy gets censored.

66
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 4:07pm

A few thoughts, from someone that is not a fan of Belichik and the Patriots, even though you have to admit he has been one of the brightest minds in football over the past 2 decades. His defensive gameplanning prowress didn't just start in 2001 against the Rams, but was a huge factor into the Giants and their battles vs. the 49ers as well in the 90s. I'll admit I haven't watched either the 2007 Pats or Giants teams too closely this season (as in re-watching games, etc).

I know it doesn't really fit in the statistical but the thing that has stood out regarding the Patriots offense is the way they execute up and down the field. I suppose DVOA could also be seen as some type of "execution index". They have been a pleasure and joy to watch, and one of the best executing offenses of all times. As much as I am biased against them you can't take what they've done away.

I think Aaron underestimates how good the Giants are at stopping the run. If the Giants are able to stop the pass, I don't expect the Pats to run so easily. (If, if, if, if). For me, the key to the Giants D is Pierce. I think the Giants need to blitz Pierce on every play, or do something that will play to his strengths (stopping the run). I think Pierce is the weak link for the Giants against TEs and RBs... and as Pierce goes, so will the Giants chances of winning.

I find it hard to believe that the Giants are going to execute on offense better than the Pats will. To be honest, I think Eli needs to raise his level and do something like 30-35 with 4 TDs... and Brady needs to have his random inaccurate 3 interception day (although he had that versus San Diego). For the Giants to win they need to play out of their minds, and have a little bit of luck. I hope the game is close, but everything points to blowout.

In the 2004 SB preview Aaron wrote: My belief that the Patriots will win big does not mean that a win is guaranteed. I’m guessing there’s roughly a 50 percent chance that the Patriots win this game convincingly, a 30 percent chance that they win it close, and about a 20 percent chance of a Philadelphia upset.
I have to deduce that Aaron thinks that the Giants chances are probably ~ 15-20%. Of course they aren't 0%, but if he really believes they are only 10% I'd find that more interesting.

67
by Gerry (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 4:10pm

"So now any criticism of the censorship policy gets censored."

You can criticize all you want 1) in email, or 2) a site of your own where you pay the bills, or 3) a site similar to 2 but where someone else pays the bills but doesn't mind if you post your criticisms of FO's moderation policies.

I have never in my life understood the mindset of those who assume that they have a constitutional right to someone else's audience.

68
by Geronimo (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 4:23pm

Hello friends,

Great article.

My Super Bowl prediction: Patriots in a huge, 1980s-style blowout. (Maybe even 1940-style.)

And I think the headlines on Monday will (or should) focus as much on the Patriots' defensive performance as anything.

I think that, basically, the Giants' offense is really ordinary, and will not be capable of either many big plays or long sustained drives. Which I think leaves them with very little to build on. I don't see them running it well; I think the surest thing in this game is that Plaxico will accomplish nothing, zero impact. The Pats will force the Giants offense to become Manning-to-Smith/Toomer/no-name TE on one 3rd-and-9 after another. And I just don't see them converting many of those.

Part of it has to do with talent, and part of it with the Pats' having two weeks to prepare.

The defense will give the Patriots' offense too many chances to put the game away early, and once there's an early lead, the pressure on Manning to respond will intensify, and the mistakes he's avoided so far will become unavoidable.

I like the Patrios, 59-14. It'd be fitting that they break the Super Bowl scoring record (though I think the defense will score a couple of TDs).

And to self-identify, I'm not a Pats fan; in fact, I root for a Pats rival. I've wanted them to go down all year. But greatness is greatness, and I'll be shocked if this game is close.

None of this should take away from the Giants, who've had a great, great year. They have just made it to the Super Bowl against the wrong opponent.

69
by Aatrouss (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 4:25pm

First of all, great detailed look at the stats. However, when he analyzes Eli, there is no discussion how the late emergence of Steve Smith as a viable 3rd receiver accounts for much of the improvement in Eli's numbers. Or the emergence of Boss as a precise route runner, who is a bit more aware of the blitz than Shockey was.
What was also missing is the fact that the Giants were second in the league in dropped passes. Maybe it's just me, but that should affect a qb's ratings.
If this game is played 100 times, NE would probably win 85 of them. But the game is only played once, and the Giants are playing with house money, they are not even supposed to be here.
If this game is close in the 4th quarter, watch out.
Simple question, which is the bigger choke, the Giants losing or the Pats losing?

70
by Herm? (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 4:28pm

Brian (currently #61)
You're probably right, you would think that week 17 would be enough to predict a close game, but there are some factors that seem to push that sentiment aside, and they're mostly wrong:
1. Game was played in NY (will a neutral field help? Will it really be neutral?)
2. Weather was cold and possibly effected the high octane passing game (probably not as much as we think, 400 yards of offense)
3. Patriots only practiced 2 days leading into week 17 (they had 2 weeks for SB, so did the Giants)
4. Patriots had some injuries on the offensive line and are gettting healthy (Gaints, too)

I think most of that disregards a few things: The Giants also had 2 weeks to prepare, they also had some injuries and have had a chance to get healthy, and I'm not so sure the Pats will get neutral field treatment. One factor not on any betting line is how loudly the Pats will get booed coming out of the locker room.

I'm not a big fan of using the 4 factors I mentioned...but if you read my posts above, I do think it'll be a lopsided game.
I just wish there were more Giants fans who would discuss instances where the running backs can get to the 2nd level, and the G-Men offensive line will already be there occupying Bruschi and Seau. What are those things the Giants do well that will help them win the game? They did put up 35 points in week 17. Wouldn't 4 good games out of Eli be a trend indicating consistently good performance, not an anomaly?

71
by goathead (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 4:31pm

Disclaimer: Giants Fans

Two comments:

I do think the spygate info is relevant, BUT this I understand that this is a site run by pats fans, and its ok for you to set the ground rules.

Regarding this being the biggest mismatch ever though, I'd say not. The biggest mismatch I've ever seen was in SB XX Bears against Pats, 2nd biggest was niners against chargers, 3rd was broncos cowboys. Now, this is still a mismatch, but in a mismatch scenario when the favorite is primarily an offensive team this definitely gives more of a chance to the underdog (still a slim one). The Giants best chance is a few dropped passes, maybe a lucky bounce for an int, etc. In a mismatch like SB XX, there was just zippo chance for the pats going in, and frankly everyone knew it.

72
by Aatrouss (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 5:13pm

"We’ll figure out some way to discuss that other thing somewhere"
Waiting for the somewhere, because, "the other thing" is relevant to the game tomorrow. I do agree, however, that it's irrelevant to this thread.

73
by patriotsgirl (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 5:17pm

71-72: Here you go (link in name)

74
by patsfandan (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 6:26pm

re discussions of thin air. The Arizona air is thinner, not due to height above sea level as much as that it is significantly drier. very low humidity allows balls to travel further.

regarding QBs that face BB twice in the same year, starting in 2001, there were QBs like Kurt Warner (Rams), Peyton Manning (Colts), Steve McNair (Titans). At one time, the record of QBs facing BB for the 2nd time in a year was 0-12. And while Rivers may have played well (?) vs. expectations and, yes, he was injured, the result was still L.

75
by Matt (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 7:48pm

Didn't Peyton end that whole thing last year?

The Giants need to force NE not to go with the big blitz. I'm not sure how they could go about that, since the running backs are not good pass catchers and Sinorice Moss is probably not a viable option, killing anything more than extremely limited use of a spread offense...besides, it's still Eli Manning. I'll be interested in what they do, but Kevin Gilbride doesn't strike me as the most inventive offensive coordinator out there, he probably doesn't have much more in his back of tricks.

76
by lyford (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 8:07pm

Now, this is still a mismatch, but in a mismatch scenario when the favorite is primarily an offensive team this definitely gives more of a chance to the underdog (still a slim one). "

If the Patriots had a miles better offense and the Giants had a slightly better defense, I'd agree. But not only was the Patriots offense miles better than the Giants, so was the Patriots defense. This is a mismatch.

The Giants could win. (Actually, you know what? No, they couldn't. The Patriots could lose.) But this game is, on paper, as big a mismatch as there has ever been in the Super Bowl.

77
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Sat, 02/02/2008 - 9:21pm

Also, does anyone want to see these DVOA charts with the other teams performance on it? Ie. Giants Offense vs. Opponeents defense. I don't think they are irrelevant to each other... I always wanted to see that. (maybe Aaron is going to say this feature is a part of Premium).

78
by MRH (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2008 - 12:30am

Re #51: GB was 9-4-1, but they lost two games after they clinched their division (and one of those was to 11-1-2 Rams in LA) and since HFA wasn't determined by record, they had no reason to go all out. They beat the Rams 28-7 in the first round of the playoffs at "home" (actually in Milwaukee), so it was pretty apparent that the Packers were at least equal if not better than the Rams, who had led the league in both PF and PA.

One of their other losses was to BAL on the road when the league MVP Unitas rallied the Colts (also 11-1-2) to two late TDs wrapped around an onside kick recovery. The Packers could easily have been 12-1-1 that year.

On top of that, the Packers had thoroughly beaten the AFL SB rep the year before, so it was easy to assume that the NFL champ would do it again in SB II despite the Raiders' much better W-L record (and pythagorean numbers if anyone would have though of that).

So when it came to SB III, the Colts weren't just 13-1. They were 24-2-2 over two years and had dominated the NFL in that period (with the exception of a couple of teams), outscoring regular season opponents 796-342. They had just won two playoff games by a total of 58-14. The Jets were a very good team, but so were the two previous AFL champions and the NFL rep had trashed them, and that rep now was replaced by a team that appeared to be at least as good as the '66-67 Packers. There was no reason going in to expect the Jets to win, and therefore SB III was the greatest upset (measured by expectations) ever.

The stranger thing to me is that the Vikings were so heavily favored in SB IV. The Chiefs were 12 point underdogs despite having beaten the defending champion Jets in the playoffs. The Vikings were certainly an excellent team, who dominated the regular season almost to the same extent as the previous year's Colts. But the Chiefs had been 12-2 in '67 and were arguably as good as the '67 Jets. If those Jets could beat a team at least as good as the Vikings, the Chiefs could certainly have been thought to do the same and been no more than a TD underdog. Why the betting public so thoroughly discounted the previous year is a terrific mystery.

79
by Purds (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2008 - 12:47am

Anyone speculate what the Giants might do in regards to the officiating? In other words, do you think the Giants will bend the rules with regularity in covering the NE WR's in the expectation that the refs will swallow the whistles as they usually do in the post season, especially when faced with having to repeatedly call penalties? I am thinking of how effectively NE used that understanding of ref tendencies in beating up the Rams receivers and Colts receivers in the SB and AFCC a few years ago. (And, yes, I am a Colt fan, but no, I have never complained about NE's mugging of Colt receivers. My stance has always been on this issue that I am mad not at NE for doing what the refs allowed, but mad at Indy for not doing the same -- the Colts should have been grabbing WR's just as much, and perhaps holding on the offensive line in a game where the refs were going to let the guys play.)

In other words, do you think the Giants are going to make the officials stop them from mugging Moss, Welker, etc? I am pretty sure NE's O-line will take the chance of a holding penalty over letting someone get a sack/hard hit on Brady. They will make the refs make the calls. I wonder if the Giants will do the same?

80
by Purds (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2008 - 12:51am

Let me explain what I mean by the above post:

If I am the Giants D-Coordinator, I instruct my guys to beat the crap out of the NE WR's on the line, especially on first down. What, really, is the big deal if you give up a defensive holding on first down? 5 yards and another first down? So what (in comparison to what NE's passing offense might do to you).

But, the advantage would be to wear down the NE WR's, and perhaps even wear down the refs desire to control the game.

Thoughts?

81
by goathead (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2008 - 1:18am

If the refs simply "Let them Play", it'll be a huge advantage to the Pats, since their O-Line is outstanding, and if allowed to hold will allow NOBODY to get close to Brady. Also, BB is quite good at reading how the refs are calling the game and seeing how far he can push it. I haven't seen Coughlin ever do this well.

Quite simply, the Giants only chance is to pressure Brady, and unless we see the 1st holding call against the pats offense in this offseason, that seems unlikely.

82
by goathead (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2008 - 1:22am

76: I disagree completely. Anyone who watched the 85-86 season, and has watched NY play this year would understand that they have a much better shot than the pats did against the bears. I'm not saying the Giants will win, simply that in SB XX the pats clearly didn;t belong on the same field as the bears, while I think the Giants are likely to lose by less than 36. I also don't expect Manning to get chased from the game with no completions and 3 sacks.

83
by Scott (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2008 - 3:05am

Less than 25% of the SB's have been close, good games and I think this has a very good chance of being one of them. Consider 3 of the closest all involved the Patriots. They won't blow the Giants out unless Eli plays like it's the Vikings.

I think for NY to win, they'll have to play the way the other Giant teams that won SBs played in the big game in 86 and 90.

Very efficient QB play: no turnovers, high comp. %, convert on 3rd downs, convert TDs in the redzone, lead a ball control offense
Productive running game: 130+ yards, over 4.5 ypc, Bradshaw and Jacobs are capable of this
Make enough plays on defense: keep them under 30, you have to hold them to FG's and hope for a flukey turnover
A hint of luck: maybe another missed FG at the end of the game (that's not Vinatieri lining up for NE anymore), kick return for a TD, a blocked punt that sets up great field position, or a dropped TD pass to Randy Moss on a 3rd down.

The fact that people aren't predicting 55-3 for this game says enough to me that this really isn't the greatest team of all time. Just of this decade.

I wish the Giants all the best.

84
by Brian Nelson (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2008 - 3:16am

#74: You're incorrect. Drier air is in fact denser. As the humidity of air increases, the air becomes less dense (or "lighter") due to the molecular mass of water (18) being less than that of dry air (28.97).

85
by Scott (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2008 - 4:10am

And a positive note for the Giants to counter how Belichick is "great" at confusing QB's in the 2nd meeting in a season...

Brady's 3 worst games of the season were all in rematches. They also all have been in the last 5 games, and all were home games.

vs. Jets - rating of 51.5, no TDs, the offense basically only scored 3 pts
vs. Dolphins - rating of 79.7, 3 TDs, 3 turnovers
vs. Chargers - rating of 66.4, 2 TDs, 3 INTs

Brady tore up all three of those teams in the first meeting. They adjusted well the next time. Considering he played a great game against the Giants the first time, I don't expect him to be as good tonight. The Giants should be able to do better than 0 takeaways, 1 sack and 38 pts.

86
by PW (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2008 - 9:13am

As a Giants fan the numbers are on the Patriots side.

However Aaron makes some false assumptions on the strength of the Giants and Patriots of 2001.

Yes the 01 Pats were a 2 seed and "got better" however they were 11-5 and won their division.

The 10-6 Giants played in an NFC East where 3 teams made the playoffs. And the top squad was 13-3.

The 2001 Pats scored 3 offensive TD's the whole playoffs.

I think this Giants team is as talented as the 2001 Patriots but they're facing a better team than the 01 Rams.

Still even Aaron can admit the Giants have been defying his system since Tampa "The Biggest mismatch of round 1"

So lets throw the dice and hope the 07 Giants are linked with the 01 & not the 85 Patriots.

87
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2008 - 10:44am

How do you think The New Accusations(tm) are going to affect the game?

If think if it does anything, it will paradoxically increase the chances of both a Pats blowout and a Giants win.

My theory is that (if it does anything) it'll fire up the Pats even more, which is why the chance of a Pats blowout is increased. However, being fired up may lead to pressing, which can lead to mistakes, which increases the chance of a Giants win.

88
by goathead (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2008 - 11:09am

patsfan: Agreed, none of the off the field accusations appear to have done anything but rile up the pats this year. And quite frankly, I think they are due for a breakout game based on the quality of their offense and how PO'd they must be about their hideous showing against the chargers.

As a Giants fan, I also have a bad feeling about how the fact that the pats defense will likely be a step ahead of Eli all day. In the 1st meeting, when the pats were down 12, they devastated the giants O on back to back drives, unless Coughlin learned something from this it'll likely be a long day.

89
by Purds (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2008 - 11:48am

goathead:

I don't buy the "wrath of NE" view. NE is 18-0. You can say anything you want and draw silly conclusions. I could say, "Hey, teams that said nothing in the week before playing NE gave NE the confidence to beat them," and if all we're looking at is the record, then I am right. "Teams that tried to play with a QB had no chance against NE this year." Correct again.

I need better logic.

90
by goathead (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2008 - 12:04pm

Purds: Did you see the pats chargers game? That was devastation of a very talented team on a scale you rarely see. All I'm saying is that the pats this year have done a great job of ignoring distractions.

But I don't buy into the 'pity the Giants' talk , whatever happens today they'll finish off happy to have played.

91
by Joe (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:07am

Yup, the Giants were happy to have played.

92
by Greg (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:12am

Wait, does this mean the Patriots aren't the greatest team in the history of the universe anymore? After months of listening to the FO hype/obnoxious boasting by certain Patriots fans who post here, I don't think I can handle it...

I can't WAIT to read Bill Simmons' column on this one.

93
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:21am

THE '72 FINS RECORD IS INTACT!!! EAT SHIT AND DIE MEDIA!!! HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES BABY?! I KNEW THE GIANTS COULD PULL IT OFF BECAUSE THEY SHOULD HAVE BEATEN THE PATS THE GAME BEFORE!!! BIGGEST YPSET IN ALL OF SPORTS HISTORY RIGHT HERE BABY!!! THE GREATEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE!!! YOU BETTER WRITE A COLUMN ON THIS AND NOT GO INTO HIDING SIMMONS!!!

94
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:28am

GIANTS WEAKEST EVER SUPER BOWL TEAM?! I THINK NOT!!! LMAO!!! IF THEY'RE SO WEAK WHAT DOES THAT MAKE THE PATS WHO JUST LOST TO THEM, HUH?

No team has ever in the history of humankind been more deserving of defeat than the 2007-08 Patriots.

Fox about to interview Belichick. I have GOT to see how that goes. The poor guy they send into that locker room might not come out alive! I wonder if there was a SB prop bet on *that*?

95
by mattymatty (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:33am

just because the giants won doesn't make them a better team over the course of the year, just a better team tonight. but thats what the super bowl is, a test of who the better team is at one given moment (or in four given hours). the patriots were not a better team than the rams in '01, just better that night. i fully expect a bunch of irrational giantfans preening about how the giants are better, so i thought i'd take a shot at cleaning that up right now. i bet this will work like a charm.

96
by goathead (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:33am

Think that'll get the Giants up to 19th in DVOA??? LMFAO, mismatch, right.

97
by BDC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:34am

Okay, I have two things to say.

First, I argued earlier in the season with several members on here that Eli was an average QB, and that he had given no indication of improvement at this point. I will stand by that assertion as it stood at that point in time. With that said, after the last 5 games, there is now no doubt in my mind that this certainly qualifies as a sign of improvement, to say the least.

Two, Belichick is about as classless HC as I can remember. Having a surly demeanor is one thing, I never held that against the guy. But walking off the field before the game is even over like a spoiled brat? Talk about a sore loser? What a fucking tool. What would happen if a player did that? Oh wait, it happened, and they were crucified in the media. I'll be interested to see how the media handles this.

Actually, I am going to add a third thing. Right after they cleared everyone off the field, I knew it wouldn't happen but I so badly wanted to see Eli, instead of taking a knee, throw a long bomb to Burress.

98
by foos (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:41am

matty:

Think that 19-0 merch is refundable?

lulz!

99
by Gerry (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:45am

Pats fans, sorry for your team's loss, but obviously I am thrilled.

We are now the WORST TEAM TO EVER WIN THE SUPER BOWL, and we did it by beating the best team to ever lose a Super Bowl.

100
by Jerry (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:51am

#98 (Gerry):

Great post. Congratulations, and enjoy.

101
by stravinsky (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:51am

As an old Oilers fan, glad to see the Oilers off the hook for the biggest choke job ever.

102
by patriotsgirl (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:52am

I said it in the game thread, but I'll say it here: congrats to the Giants fans (Gerry, goathead, Dales, even Chris) who I see around here pretty often. Your team dominated the lines of scrimmage, and played extremely well. I'm almost more shocked thats the Pats nearly pulled it out (that crazy Manning-Tyree play will haunt my dreams).

I'm crushed, but we'll come back.

103
by BDC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:55am

What was Burress' score prediction again?

104
by Aatrouss (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:56am

No offense to the writers on this site. But everybody was wondering how to model heart.
I give you superbowl 42, that's heart! the greatest offense in the history of the NFL .... until they met men in football gear with a beating heart and pride underneath. That's heart!

105
by Carlos (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:56am

hahahahaha

let the "greatest team of all time" debate... end. Or at least any mention of the 2007/8 Pats as a contender for the title.

They could contend for these titles:
1. Biggest Super Bowl Choke of All Time
2. Worst Show of Sportsmanship of All Time (Belichick, showing his true colors walking off the field before the game ends, with the Ref quite clearly telling him so)

Enjoy the long frustrating offseason, annoying Pats fans everywhere!!

Beaten by a Manning two years in a row!

I love it!!!!

106
by 18 &amp; uh-oh (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:56am

Horseshoes & hand grenades, Pats fans. It's so quiet in Boston tonight that you can almost hear the "clinking" of champagne glasses down in Miami.

107
by Jason (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:58am

DING DONG the Witch is Dead

108
by Gerry (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:00am

patriotsgirl,

Gerry and Dales are one and the same. I probably should just post as Dales here, and probably will going forward.

109
by Rick (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:04am

Congrats to Giants fans, a richly deserved win!

I have only one criticism, since I live in the New York area:
If I hear anyone tell me how "great" Eli is, after having to explain to all of you why you are WRONG about how "bad" is the last 3 years, I'm going to go nuts. I've supported that kid as every Giants fan (I married into a Giants family, and have defended Eli against them and practically every moron in New York).

All of a sudden, I hear people at the SB party I attended tell me what an amazing QB he is. The same people who, 7 weeks ago, pissed an moaned about what a loser he was.

110
by jd (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:06am

The better team won. Mismatch!

111
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:12am

Congrats Giants fans, they doubted us along along but we are super bowl champs baby and nobody can take that away from us !

112
by johnt (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:14am

108: To be fair, he _was_ bad before and the things he was doing badly are not generally things that QBs suddenly improve at. More than anything I think it shows how important systems are. NY's system was horribly suited for Eli and it was reflected by how he constantly looked uncomfortable and forced things. Once they simplified things he seemed far less worried. Also, honestly, I think Kevin Boss really is better for the Giants than Shockey, at least this year. Shockey is certainly a better player, but he clearly seemed to have a negative impact on Eli. Perhaps next year with Eli as an MVP Shockey won't have the balls to get up in his face if the ball isn't being forced to him... or maybe he will and they'll have Kevin Boss to replace him.

And not to bandwagon or anything, but this really wasn't the "biggest mismatch in NFL history". There are times when your eyes can clearly tell you that statistics are misleading, and this was one. The Giants, for whatever ineffable reason, were a completely different team from their early-season garbage. Moreover, they actually played the Pats and were closer than the other teams that they stomped, which certainly argues against the idea of a massive mismatch. I wouldn't have picked the Giants, but I gave them about a 30% chance, much better than FO did.

113
by Justin Zeth (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:20am

Heart this, heart that. Super Bowl XLII was about the Giants' defensive line utterly destroying the Patriots' offensive line. Osi Umenyiora was the MVP, hands down; the "MVP" tried on three different occasions on the last drive to throw the game away with crazy throws off his back foot into coverage.

I've never seen such total domination of a good offensive line as we saw tonight by the Giants' d-line. I'm still shell-shocked. Clearly I hadn't seen enough of them this year.

114
by goathead (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:23am

Patriotsgirl: Tough loss. I kinda think I've been there (against the Ravens), but this one was tough for the Pats fans. The fact that Merriweather and Samuel each had int chances on the last giants drive, and let them go is very un-patriots. Its gonna take me a while to get my head around this one. Justin Tuck finally shows how good he is to the whole world. The Eli-Tyree play on the last drive, un-freakin-believable. And single coverage on Plax near the goal line in the last minute? That seems so un-Belichick that I still can't understand.

Out

115
by Gerry (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:24am

Justin-- they are really good. Strahan is a hall-of-famer (I think) who hasn't had much (if any) of a drop-off. Osi for at least two years has been better than him. And this year, Tuck came on and IMO (and in the opinion of my Giants fans) has played even better than either of them.

Coefield and Robbins are solid, too. Alford has made some plays. And we have on IR Kiwanukia, when we aren't trying to make a LB of him.

The Giants' D-line is just sick-good.

116
by mush (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:25am

Kudos to the New York fans. The better team won today. The NY pass rush abused the Patriots OL from the opening snap. Eli Manning's duck-and-chuck on the game-winning drive was a play I didn't know he could make; shades of Steve McNair back in 2000. (Silly life lesson - don't temp karma with greedy, self-congratulatory trademarks until the time comes.)

It's a notable upset, but only a monumental one for anyone who ignored the events of the last two months. The Patriots covered just one of their final nine games - the juggernaut of the first two thirds of the season was not in place for the final two months. The Giants pushed New England in the regular season's best game, then won in three incredibly-difficult places to play, in a row, in the playoffs. They had the best pass rush in the league. All along I certainly felt the Patriots would win, but I knew the Giants *could* win. Geesh, they showed me that in Week 17 - how could that game not mean something?

Sometimes if you trust the stat sheet a little too much, you trick your mind into seeing things that aren't there. Maybe that's the lesson here.

I'm New England born-and-raised and I approve this message. I hope the Patriots fans (and the Boston fans) handle this loss with class. We've had so many things fall our way in recent years, you don't need me to recount them. Be classy, Hub. Tip your caps to the champs.

I tip my cap. The better team on the field won tonight.

117
by peachy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:29am

I think the single most extraordinary thing is this : the Patriots didn't even score as many points as Plaxico Burress predicted they would. Neither did the Giants, of course, but somehow I doubt that really bothers him.

118
by patriotsgirl (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:29am

112: Harrison, too, with about 2 minutes to go.

FWIW, I've been through 3 SB losses: one where they had no chance (v. Bears), one where they were outplayed for much of the game but had a chance if it weren't for %$&@ing Desmond Howard (v. Packers), and this one. This is the hardest one, by far.

But, they'll be back. And it gives me some comfort (strangely) that the Giants won because of a dominant D-line, not any shenanigans or officials or anything else.

119
by 18 &amp; uh-oh (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:32am

grab a copy while you can...

http://www.amazon.com/19-0
-Historic-Championship-Englands-
Unbeatable/dp/1600781500/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie
=UTF8&s=books&qid=1202099458&sr=8-1

120
by Dan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:32am

Mike Tanier predicted the giants to finish 32nd in standings in the preseason. They are now SUPER BOWL CHAMPS. This could go down as the SINGLE WORST prediction in the history of professional sports. Who wants a job at football outsiders? I think Tanier's time is CLEARLY up. BTW whats our PLAYOFF DVOAOAOAOAOA ADVANCED STATISTICS OADVDVDDDOA? 21? 22? LET ME know. Thats all that matters. The game doesn't.

121
by Gerry (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:34am

Dan, stay classy. Tanier is an excellent writer, and is one of the FO writers who has said he believes Eli's improvement over the playoffs is real.

122
by Dan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:41am

Gerry, i actually agree that Tanier writes the best column on this site---BY far. the two deep zone is unreal. But COME on, he predicted us 32nd! drafting jake long first overall! (and yes diehl got abused today but still). and everyone on this site thinks we are a fluke.

123
by Gerry (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:43am

True. I am sure some think Big Blue are flukes.

We might be. Although I think we are a good team that has played crappy for way longer than we should have.

But everyone on this site that thinks that we are flukes, I bet also thinks we are the Super Bowl Champions.

124
by mush (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 1:50am

116. And it gives me some comfort (strangely) that the Giants won because of a dominant D-line, not any shenanigans or officials or anything else.

Well said. I feel the same way.

You never emotionally recover when it's taken from you unfairly - ask the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals, or the 1925 Pottsville Maroons (link at name). Tonight's result was a kick in the stomach, but it was *just*. And in the end, that's all we can ask for, as sports fans - for the true champion to be decided in the arena, and not by outside forces. We got that tonight. Unfortunately, it wasn't our guys, but I fully expect Tom Brady to have more jewelry in his collection before he retires.

125
by vis (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:03am

can't wait for the "any given sunday" column...

126
by Aatrouss (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:04am

truth be told, a lot of people were picking the Giants to finish below 500, not to make the playoffs, or be one and done. As Giants fans, let's be honest, after an 0-2 start who would have thought that we would be here? Let's not be Monday morning quarterbacks and deny our own feelings on the seond week and start attacking everybody who did not pick the Giants. We did not show we deserved to be picked, this was an upset, and we shook the world, but we certainly cannot blame others for not picking the Giants to shock the world, because they shocked us!
Let's see what they say about the giants next year is my test.

Let me just make one sentimental point. Belichick will always hold a special place in Giants lore in my mind, I sincerely hope that he gets cleared of any wrong doing. No matter what anybody says, he is a great coach and Brady is a great Qb, he just ran into a great Defensive line and his offensive line was overmatched.

127
by vis (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:06am

highlight of the postgame: espn showing the interview with peyton, and under his head, the text "eli manning's brother." classic.

128
by goathead (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:08am

As a giants fan, I thought wide right would be the play that would forever stay in my memory. Now I'm thinking "In the grasp to Tyree" may top it. I can hardly wait to watch this game again, and am looking forward to being able to breathe next time.

129
by patriotsgirl (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:17am

126: David Tyree has joined Desmond Howard in the "player who gives me spasms" pantheon.

And 122: my sentiments exactly. Still, two years in a row where one play could make the difference...it sucks. Although as I said in the game thread, Pats won a lot of stomach-punch games along the way in 03 and 04, so it's almost like they were due.

130
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:18am

"2. Worst Show of Sportsmanship of All Time (Belichick, showing his true colors walking off the field before the game ends, with the Ref quite clearly telling him so)"

WHAAAT?! I completely missed this, from being so ecstatic and plus there was so much pandemonium going on in general at that time. Way to be (cl)assy, Belichick!!! Yeah!!!

#118: Everybody running this site should lose their jobs. If they were actually being paid for this, that is. Shame on all of them for showing absolutely staggering hubris. I really expected better of Aaron in particular. They couldn't bash the Giants enough for two weeks and look what happened fellas.

#105: Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

#114: Now why did nobody on the site notice this? Probably because they were too busy telling us how awful the Giants were is my guess.

#123: I would bet you money (if I made bets over the net) that there will be no such column ever written.

Bottom line: if Team A and Team B face off twice and they each win by 3 there's simply no way anyone can definitely say one is clearly better than the other unless one is just trying to be a douchebag or is that blind of a homer. These teams had ALREADY PLAYED and the Giants gave the Pats all they could handle, that should have been a clue as to how this game would go but instead *everyone* writing for this site completely ignored it in a mad rush to hand the Pats the crown before they'd even played for it. It'll be years before this site lives this moment down. And should be.

131
by The Original Omar (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:32am

It was obvious early on in this one that Brady didn't have his usual focus w his hot girlfriend in the stands.

132
by Jason (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:33am

"Bottom line: if Team A and Team B face off twice and they each win by 3 there’s simply no way anyone can definitely say one is clearly better than the other unless one is just trying to be a douchebag or is that blind of a homer."

Dollfan does that mean that you agree Dallas is better than the Giants? They played 3 times, 2 times the Cowboys hammered the Giants and the 3rd time the Giants needed a last second int to preserve a narrow win

133
by patriotsgirl (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:35am

104, 128: Belichick congratulated Coughlin, hugged him (it looked to me to be sincere) and whispered in his ear, and was forced off the field by security to allow Eli et al to play the last second of the game. He then left. What is the big deal here?

134
by goathead (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:39am

patsgrl: BB should have stayed on the field till the game was done. But that loss must have simply destroyed him, so I'm willing to cut him slack.

135
by Sansterre (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:46am

I hesitate to use the 'the Giants didn't win, the Patriots lost' cliche, mostly because it isn't true. The Giants' pass rush was absolutely unreal. They managed to pressure Brady all game, and that by itself was able to make the game reasonably close. On the flipside, the Giants' offensive performance was hardly impressive. Really, what I found most notable about the game wasn't the pass rush (though it was impressive) but the number of times Brady threw balls and missed his receivers by incredibly distances. Even plays where he wasn't pressured he looked pretty horrible - had it been raining I'd have said he wasn't able to grip the ball properly.

Credit needs to be given where credit is due. That the Giants played hard and managed to stay in the game with a far superior team is to their credit. That they needed an absolutely incredible pass to barely pull it off against a Patriots offense performing at its tenth percentile... Well, they won. But I'd be happier for them if Brady hadn't looked so wretched.

136
by Len (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:51am

#130: That's right buddy. And as a Cowboy fan it breaks my heart.

137
by Ryan (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:53am

Who got into the tunnel first, Randy or BB?

138
by mush (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:56am

131. Again, I fully agree. I think Belichick's post-game meet-greet with Coughlin was fine, and I think the backlash Belichick is about to face will be grossly unfair. He'll be ripped to shreds Monday morning, if not sooner.

139
by t.d. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:25am

I guess they reversed the curse
(the FOMBC)

140
by Mike NYC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:43am

Wow. This site truly is worthless, I think that's been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

GO GIANTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

141
by johnt (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:49am

133: So when Brady is constantly under pressure but throws poor passes even when not under pressure, that's because the pats offense is performing in "their tenth percentile"?

I'm sure it couldn't have anything to do with Brady getting happy feet and constantly being in fear of getting hit even when not actually under pressure. No, it was clearly a case of the Patriots just not performing up to their unbeatable standards; had there been rain it would have been due to the rain, instead it just must be totally random. Insert rolled eyes.

142
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:04am

Let it be noted that Aaron, if I remember correctly, stated that the Giants probably had at least a 40% chance to win the game.

I certainly wasn't shocked that they won, but I was surprised that they won while scoring 17 points. Once again demonstrates that there isn't anything to counteract a front four just horse-whipping an offensive line.

143
by Mac (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:09am

Does anyone else think Tom Brady had to have been a little more hurt than not? That's not to say the Giants didn't earn this one, because they did, but Brady just looked like he lacked the touch he normally displays.

144
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:13am

Mac, he lacked the touch because he was getting the crap kicked out of him. When a qb gets beaten like the proverbial leased horse/donkey hybrid, he starts missing even on those plays when the protection is decent.

145
by mush (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:20am

140: Let it be noted that Aaron, if I remember correctly, stated that the Giants probably had at least a 40% chance to win the game.

I can't see how that's possible, given that the lead-in to the top of this article reads as follows: "Super Bowl XLII is the biggest mismatch in Super Bowl history." I'm not looking to hammer the guy here, merely looking to get the story straight. Those comments don't look parallel to me at all. Teams that are overmatched don't have a perceived 40/60 shot at victory.

146
by James (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:20am

"biggest mismatch in superbowl history"

"greatest offense of all time"

"greatest team of all time"

DVOA is a fine tool for analysing & meauring a teams performance. It has very little predictive power.

The Pats are an excellent team in a mediocre, parity influenced league. I rarely comment on threads, but, to all the pats fans who thought:

a) your team was the greatest of all time
b) they had the greatest offense of all time

Look at the scoreboard.....

147
by Sansterre (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:21am

When Eli Manning misses wide open receivers it's because he's a bad quarterback. When Tom Brady misses wide open receivers it's because he's getting rushed hard. Brady is, of course, incapable of performing badly so it needs to be blamed on someone else. Insert rolled eyes.

148
by Jason (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:31am

Aaron commented that "the only thing dumber than picking NYG to win is saying that they have no chance to win"

I'd say Aaron gave them around a 10% chance or so based on his comments

149
by johnt (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:33am

On a lighter note, does anyone remember how badly the Giants defense blew after the first 3-4 games and how people were talking about how they'd be HISTORICALLY bad?

Ha, ha. Whoops.

150
by Sansterre (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:37am

Let us be logical. There are two variables that determined the performance of the New England passing game. One is the quality of the Giants' pass defense. One is the performance of the Patriots' passing offense. I don't think anyone wants to take away from the Giants the fact that their pass defense performance was exceptional. That said, it is uncertain precisely how the Patriots performed under the circumstances? Did they roll with the punches, adjust their strategy, did Brady start dumping the ball off before rushers got him? Or did his line cave in play after play, and did Brady himself play like a rookie under pressure? The purpose of my post was to state that I believed both that the Giants' pass defense was excellent and that the Patriots pass offense's performance was distinctly sub-par.

If I asked you to picture a hall of fame quarterback (which he may well be) with a stable of excellent receivers and a pro-bowl offensive line against a monstrous pass rush like that of the '85 bears or some such, what would you imagine? Certainly the offense would be disrupted some. But you'd assume the offense would adjust some. An epic quarterback can suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and still achieve a respectable level of offensive production. That Brady didn't suggests that he had a bad game personally, irrespective of the defense he faced. Or, conversely, that Brady just isn't that great, but that seems counterintuitive.

151
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:41am

Nope, Aaron wrote in response to a Giants fan, who said the Giants only had about a 10% chance, that he put it at about 40%. If you care to make a friendly wager, I will take the time to find it.

Actually, 40/60 is a pretty wide disparity in any NFL game, to say nothing of two playoff teams.

152
by Matt (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:42am

Try not to choke on the numbers that your little excel spreadsheets spit at you this week, Aaron.

The Patriots are clearly ranked too high because they just lost the Super Bowl in historic fashion and blew their chance at history.

Maybe they should have studied the film harder. Or maybe they just didn't have as much film as they needed this time.

153
by Jason (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:51am

"Nope, Aaron wrote in response to a Giants fan, who said the Giants only had about a 10% chance, that he put it at about 40%."

If that is the case then Aaron is hedging his bets cuz in 1 place saying you give them a 40% chance and in another saying picking the Giants is 1 of the dumbest possible things someone can do is not consistent

154
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 4:58am

Sure it is, Jason, because 40/60 is an extremely wide disparity in a playoff game.

155
by mush (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:00am

149. Okay, here's what Aaron actually did say with respect to New York's "percent chance of winning," back on January 26 in an article called "FO Mailbag: Giants vs. Other 3-6 Seeds by DVOA." The comment is sort of vague. To save everyone a second or two, I'll link the story at my name.

AS: I want to point out that none of these articles regarding the Giants’ performance during the regular season are meant to suggest that the Giants have no chance to beat New England. Of course the Giants have a chance. At least a 20 percent chance, maybe even a 40 percent chance. That’s not what it means to pick the Giants. When somebody in the media like Dr. Z or Dan Patrick picks the Giants, it means that this person believes the Giants have a greater than 50 percent chance of winning this game. Given the historically unprecedented gap between the quality of these two teams in the regular season — and the fact that the Giants’ “hot playoff run” is actually not as hot as other recent “hot playoff runs” by teams like the 2003 Panthers, 2005 Steelers, and 2006 Colts — that seems like a gigantic leap in logic. [End AS]

I don't know what that really means with respect to our discussion here. I do know this - Vegas was giving the Giants slightly less than a 20 percent chance to win, given that the median between the New York money line (+360) and the New England money line (-460) was slightly more than 4-to-1. I realize public perception and bias is built into that number, somewhat.

I stand by my assertion that Aaron's lead-in to the Super Bowl preview does NOT convey that he considered New York to have anywhere near a 40 percent chance at winning this ballgame, even if he hinted at that, in a comment that's almost a throwaway line, at the tail end of an article one week ago. If I'm wrong on that point, well, it's a shame FO isn't running the sports book at The Mirage, because something doesn't jibe here.

156
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:13am

I dunno, Mush, I read that as saying that the Giants have at least a 1 in 5 chance to win, and perhaps as much as a 2 in 5 chance to win. In other words, a Giants win was certainly unexpected, but by no means astoundingly so. I came in at about 30%, so I'd label my view of this outcome as mildly surprised. I found the final score of the Giants win to be a lot more surprising than the fact that they won.

157
by Jason (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:25am

In the Simmons podcast Aaron whether he wants to or not gives the impression that NYG has terrible odds to win the game

-compares them with the 85 Pats
-says picking Giants is almost dumbest thing one can do
-says it would take multiple turnovers + giant big plays

Anyone who only listened to that podcast would conclude Aaron gave them a 20% chance at best to win.

Maybe being with Simmons weighed on his fan side too much but if you have a neutral party listen only to that podcast and ask them what % chance you think that guest gives NYG to win I'm sure they would say very low

158
by mush (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:30am

152: Sure it is, Jason, because 40/60 is an extremely wide disparity in a playoff game.

The books would beg to differ. For any NFL game that has a 7-point spread - and we saw a lot of spreads at least that high this postseason - the money line on the favorite will generally be around -250 (sometimes higher), and the haul on the underdog will always be better than +200 (sometimes a lot higher). Split the difference and it's not anywhere near the 150 mark that would reflect a 40/60 match.

That 150 midpoint between favorite and dog is generally found on games with a point spread in the -2.5 or -3 neighborhood, at least from the quick survey I did from the 2007 season with a handful of sportsbooks. I realize money lines and point spreads aren't always tied to a strict formula, but using the general rules of thumb, teams given a 40 percent shot at winning a game will probably be getting around three points on the common spread.

If you think I'm wrong here, no worries. Go to the casinos with Will's concepts in hand, and you'll never have to work again.

159
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:37am

Well, mush, lets get a sample size of, say, 300 playoff games. What percentage had more than a 6 point spread?

160
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:42am

Furthermore, mush, have you actually checked a few hundred games in which a team got 3 points? Did they win about 40% of the time? I'm not disputing what you've written; I 'm just curious as to what the winning percentage acutally is for teams getting three points.

161
by Dutch (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:45am

I tried to tell you. They never get the SB right. These DVOa stats are all over rated. Anyone who folled their little articles every week as they rated QB's could tell you that. They had the Cowboysbeing an 8 win team.They had Roethlisberger projected to have less than 20 TD passes. He had 32. It goes on and on. They constantly over rate the Pats and under value everyone else. Every coach is an idiot except Belichick. They don';t even discuss Ernie Adams and al lthe illegal tapings. They act like that doesn't even matter. Its all a joke. I can't wait for any given sunday and we hear about Brady's ankle. I know one thing. If Roethlisberger perfromed like this, they would say he didn't make quick decisions. Be interesting to see what they say about God Brady.

162
by mush (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:56am

158. Furthermore, mush, have you actually checked a few hundred games in which a team got 3 points? Did they win about 40% of the time? I'm not disputing what you’ve written; I'm just curious as to what the winning percentage actually is for teams getting three points.

Good question, and I don't know - I haven't gone anywhere near that deep. Obviously I'm just doing a quick survey here, it's not anywhere near as comprehensive as it would need to be to be accepted as gospel. That said, given what books and casinos have at stake, I have to assume that the money lines are set in fair areas reflected by performance history; if they weren't, the easiest buck in the world would be to hammer these things on the overlay side, assuming you're not giving up too much juice in the middle.

163
by tunesmith (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:36am

What strikes me about this is how impossible it is to rationalize the loss.

If you go for "The Giants didn't win; the Patriots lost," then you pretty much have to admit that this is the biggest choke in sports history.

If you go for "It was a closely fought game between evenly matched teams", then you have to abandon the "biggest mismatch in sports history" line - over at beatpaths, we also saw it as the biggest super bowl mismatch (although we did have them favored to beat Tampa Bay and Green Bay).

If you go for the "Any Given Sunday" approach, we're back to choking.

I personally find the "Giants were better at this particular sixty-minute stretch" rationale to be a little graceless. I think the reality just really has to be that there are some things that are *material* to a football game, that aren't measured in stats. I watched the game and it sure didn't seem flukey to me. It just didn't look like an upset. This wasn't a team that benefitted from a bunch of lucky breaks. A couple of huge moments and Tyree's catch, but it definitely wasn't a case of a team that looked like they should have lost and then just magically didn't.

So... which is it? Is it that it was a huge mismatch, and the Patriots choked? Or was it that the Patriots didn't choke, and it wasn't as big of a mismatch as we thought? It just doesn't seem like we can have it both ways.

164
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:40am

Will, Jason, and mush arguing about what Aaron thought of % chance.

My post #66 nearly asked a similar question. By deduction we know that a) Aaron thought this was the biggest mis-match in Super Bowl History, and b) thought that the Eagles only had a 20% chance of beating the Pats when they played in 2004. Therefore I deduced that when Aaron put together this Preview he thought the Giants had about a 15-20% chance, although it might've been lower (which would surprise me).

Reading the quote from the mailbag it seems like maybe he had a bit more time to think about it, and the more he thought about it the less he liked New York's chances.

165
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:24am

Super Bowl 42 is the biggest mismatch in super bowl history. The Patriots have the best team and offense ever.

Tom Brady played erratic and if his name was Eli Manning would have been clowned today and joked on.

166
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:40am

I see the karmic payback has already begun. I cannot WAIT to see how the boys in charge handle THIS. It should be...*extremely* interesting to say the least :-)

#161: You absolutely nailed it. Although you can rest assured that this site will try their best to spin their way out of the mess they got themselves into with all their "Giants are so bad it'll take a miracle for them to win" blathering. The crazy thing is, it was actually the GIANTS who made more mistakes. Yes, that's right--they actually should've won by even MORE! The INT that hit the "other" Steve Smith in the hands and the mysterious and highly untimely "illegal batting" penalty that killed two scoring drives, Blackburn extending a Pats drive by not getting off the field in time on a punt, the Eli miss of a WIDE open Plax the possession just before the Pats took the lead, and I'm sure there are more that I just can't remember right now. There's simply no way anyone can say with the slightest shred of credibility that the Pats gave that game away--the Giants earned everything they got. But I'm guessing people here will say that anyway. I just want to find out *how* they will say it.

167
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:47am

Oh and #132: I'll cut Belichick the same amount of slack he cut teams late in games in the first half of the season. Seems fair to me.

If you show no mercy, don't expect any in return.

168
by Sansterre (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 9:37am

I don't think the good people at FO ever said anything like "the giants have no chance to win." Let's face it, if you went back in time to the people predicting a patriots win and told them "ok, the Giants are going to play very well, especially their pass rush, and the Patriots are going to play poorly; who do you think wins?" you'd have to figure that, under those circumstances, most people would pick the Giants, or at least call it a toss-up. The distance between the best team in the NFL and a decent team is not the difference between a great performance and a crappy performance, which is why undefeated teams are so rare. That said, it was not certain the Giants would play great (though probable they wouldn't play badly) and it was not certain that the Pats would play poorly (though it was probable that they wouldn't play at their peak), and so generally one would pick the patriots to win.

169
by lobolafcadio (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 10:05am

DVOA can't predict score. That's sure. But please, don't throw the baby with the water.
DVOA-wise, this SB was the biggest match-up of the DVOA era, the underdog won, that doesn't mean every writer of the site is the evil...

Calm down guys.

To be happy is something, to be bitter another one.

Be happy, don't worry :o)
Jags rule next year !

170
by Ben V (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 10:39am

I've made this comparison here before, but a few years back, a was in an NCAA Tournament pool. Someone in our pool took George Mason because she was reminded of the character on the TV show 24. I had UConn. Heading into the elite eight game I was sitting pretty. But Mason pulled off the upset and made the final four.

Was she smarter than any of us? No. If you were picking that pool today, you'd still stay you'd have to be a complete idiot to pick George Mason. So just because it was an incredibly dumb pick odds wise does not mean it cannot happen. It just says given the odds you are foolish to give up a 90% chance (higher in GM case) for a 10% chance.

So what chances Aaron gave the Giants is not affected by them winning. It's one game and as he said, in one game anything can happen. They were mediocre in the regular season and won four games in the postseason. The banner goes up regardless. Just ask George Mason (who lost twice in two weeks at the end of the season to Hofstra and probably shouldn't have made the tournament over Hofstra) with their final four, or the St. Louis Cardinals with their 2006 World Series after almost handing then division to the Astros and winning it with a mere 83-79 record.

171
by noahpoah (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 10:47am

I'm just glad that the Tom Brady/Peyton Manning debate is resolved. I mean, Brady wasn't even better than Eli Manning last night, and there's no way Eli is better than Peyton. It's just simple transitivity.

172
by Eddo (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 10:48am

Here's a thought: everyone saying how "worthless" this site is and how "everyone" on the staff is an "idiot" or "proven wrong" - why are you still visiting the site?

173
by lagfish (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 11:00am

This is the best football site on the net, they have nothing to be ashamed about.
That was the greatest SB I have ever seen. Congrats to the the Giants for the win and the Pats for a great season. It was a fun ride.

174
by mush (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 11:15am

170. The George Mason comparison is actually a decent one. To pick them to win those four games *before* the tournament was silly, sure. But after George Mason beat Michigan State and North Carolina and Wichita State in a row, the truth was out, this was a decent, dangerous team that needed to be re-evaluated. UConn was only an 8-point favorite for the regional final, even as the Huskies were considered the country's best team.

In that instance, the public *did* accept the recent events and give the dog some credit. But did the Giants get full credit for what they did the last 3-4 games? In many places, I don't think so. The line of 13 or so was ridiculous (and I said so the moment it was released), and IMHO the only way someone could call this matchup a huge mismatch would be to ignore the events of the recent weeks. Didn't anyone notice the Patriots *not dominating* the last eight weeks as they went 1-7 ATS? Did people somehow miss that Kyle Boller and A.J. Feeley came 1-2 plays short of beating New England . . . did people miss David Garrard turning into Johnny Unitas at Foxboro . . . did anyone happen to see the hobbled Chargers were in the game at Foxboro (hounding Brady into a terrible game) even with their three best offensive players being significantly compromised?

This Giants-Patriots matchup reminded me so much of the Packers-Broncos back in the late 90s. The Packers probably should have been favored by 7 or so that day, but silly logic - stuff like "the NFC always wins Super Bowls!" - inflated the number to the 12-14 range. A great day to have the Broncos on the money line.

175
by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 11:20am

Great Superbowl, maybe the best in history, at least the best that I've seen.
I agree it looked like an OVERALL mismatch coming into the game, but the writers here made it clear that the Giants D-Line dominated the Patriots O-Line in week 17, and it won't take an Any Given Sunday analysis to understand that the same thing happened (x10) last night.

The thing that most surprised me most was that the Pats didn't seem to make one offensive adjustment in the first 3 quarters. The overall Martz Rams 2001 metaphor we were quick to dismiss last week may have been correct.

Maybe when the dust settles, the Manning-Tyree hookup will go down as one of the top 5 plays in SB history - the only reason it MIGHT not be #1 is because it wasn't a TD, but I'd put it at #1.

For me personally, I didn't expect to take the Pats loss this easily, but when the Giants clearly won and clearly deserved to win, there's no frustration and no need to ask "what if?" until next August.

For you gloaters: yeah, the odds are in your favor to win one when you root for 31 teams, but I'll give you this:
I've never seen so much traffic in the suburban Foxboro area at 11PM on a Sunday night. Probably worse getting home last night than my commute to work this morning.

176
by Fnor (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 11:56am

Why do we care what percentage chance Aaron thought the Giants had? I mean, come on. Not only is it impossible to fix that sort of thing, but Aaron is in the unfortunate position of being a Pats fan. I think everyone arguing percentages really just wants to twist the knife, and that's not cool.

177
by Norman Einstein (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:01pm

The bottom line is this:

Aaron and this site has been slurping the Pats this entire season (if not longer) and now it's payback time.

As many of us said earlier in the season...this site's credibility has been extremely downgraded this year.

1. Aaron on Simmons podcasts
2. The Aaron and Simmons "Patriots haters" article
3. The "irrational" tag applied to Spygate
4. Warning others to not post other team's content in Pats threads, but no such warning to Pats fans who do it every thread
5. The overall lack of commentary on Spygate by FO
6. The clearly pro-Pats bias of EP articles
7. The lack of TMQ links (the only MSM member who has been consistently raising Spygate and officiating issues with Pats games)

You cannot deny this bias...people have seen it all year...and now this backlash is nothing more than a natural reaction to a great football site that really alienated a number of loyal readers who aren't Pats fans.

Sorry, FO...you have no one to blame but yourselves.

178
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:02pm

Apparently, Aaron Schatz was wrong about some things, and also, he hates black people. Aaron Schatz is a worthless human being, etc. etc.

Can we move on now?

179
by Irish Boy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:10pm

I keep tract of all the spread data, at least through from 1997. Since then, favorites with a -3 spread have won outright 315 times and lost 214 times; just a hair under 60%

As for the moneylines in this game, I'd offer that is a little bit deceptive for this game. A game with a 12.5 point spread should have a moneyline around -600, +500 or +525 or so. The books were shading against that because of all the casual bettors who turn out for the Super Bowl, many of whom would be from New York and betting the Giants with their hearts and not their minds.

Vegas probably felt the chances of the Patriots winning was about 88%, and they shaded it down to 80%

180
by Paul Casassa (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:12pm

First of all, one has to give tremendous credit to the Giant's D line and scheme. The Pats O line was a virtual fortress the entire season, yet last night they looked inept - much of the time. Due credit also to Eli, another tremendous performance.

Still, there were 3 opportunities late in the game where the Patriots could have put the game away but they failed to make the plays:

1. Asante Samuel dropped an Eli pass that was thrown right to him. A catch he makes 999 times out of 1,000. This was that 1 time;

2. An admittedly more difficult pic, however Eli threw another pass that sailed right through Brandon Merriweather's hands. Tyree (I think it was him) nearly caught the bobbled pass anyway;

3. Eric Alexander had a recovered fumble and had it taken away.

Add to that that Tyree catches a pass with one hand plus one helmet while Harrison was all over him. Run that play 10 times and he likely makes that play 1 time out of 10. This was that 1 time.

As a Patriots fan, I couldn't be more disappointed. I wouldn't have cared if they go 4-12 next year, but I would have loved to see them go 19-0, make history and finally shut up the likes of the perpetually obnoxious Mercury Morris. What a shame.

181
by Irish Boy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:13pm

Forgive the semi-incoherence of my last post: still early, etc.

182
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:19pm

Well, I just think it is silly for people to behave as if throwing a single die, and getting the number you hope for, is some sort of shocking event. I mean, have these folks ever played a board game or shot craps? Even if you thought the Giants had less than a 20% chance, this outcome isn't any more shocking than throwing a single die, and getting the "6" that you hoped for. What's the big deal? It wasn't as if the Giants won by 21 points, which really would have been an earthquake.

I put the Giants chances at about 30%, if Manning played like he had througout the playoffs, and in hindsight the reason I didn't give them a better chance is because the last time these teams played, the Patriots didn't have all of their starting offensive linemen, so I didn't expect the Giants defensive line to just horse-whip the Patriots offensive line. Now, if somebody wants to get credit as a soothsayer (btw, I did say taking the Giants and the points was the best bet), they can only do so, in my view, if they wrote something along the lines of, "The Giants defensive line is simply going to dominate all but about five minutes of the game, and it isn't even going to be a close competition along that line of scrimmage."

183
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:29pm

But Will, haven't you heard, Mike Tanier was wrong about a couple of things, which means he is basically like the devil.

Maybe some of these posters could be more constructive, and talk about how it seemed fairly evident to a lot of people that the Patriots had fallen off since about their 11th game, and maybe the analysis and number-crunching should have better taken that into account.

Instead, we get a whole load of BS about how FO clearly hates the Giants.

184
by Boss Hog (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:30pm

I'd put it this way:

1. DVOA and Aaron were clearly off the mark when it came to the Giants (and, probably, the Patriots as well). Not only did the Giants beat the Patriots, they beat them in such a way that convincingly refutes any talk about this being the "greatest mismatch in SB history." Equal turnovers. Giants with more yards, better yards-per-play, more time of possession. I grant that it was plausible to make the "mismatch" before the game -- I thought Pats blowout all the way -- but clearly, CLEARLY, that's not in fact the case.

2. The backlash here against Aaron and FO is being taken too far. They were wrong about the Super Bowl -- wrong about both teams -- and the stats are far from being perfect. Far, even, from being as convincing to me as advanced baseball metrics. But it's ridiculous to crucify Aaron or FO in general for missing badly on one game (or even one season).

3. That said, I understand the impulse beind the backlash. I do think FO often lapses into a kind of naive, positivistic triumphalism about the quality of its stats. As often as Aaron can post the disclaimer about DVOA being "just a tool", you don't get the sense that he or many of the other writers really believe it. I know the numbers are what makes this site different, and I know the game previews, analysis, etc, have to be based on the numbers -- but when FO writers consistently overrate the importance of those numbers in their analysis -- when they overuse the "tool" -- it IS satisfying to see how limited, and indeed how puny, those numbers often are. Aaron's SB preview is a classic example of FO naively over-interpreting the "objective" numbers at the expense of a slightly more qualitative (but "subjective"!) analysis that in all probability would have been much more accurate.

4. Finally, I DO think the site has exhibited an odd kind of pro-Pats bias this year. The insistent "Greatest Team of All Time" boosterism, the Simmons chat, the palpably un-neutral take on Spygate, etc. I think Aaron tries hard to make the site even, but the fact that he's a Pats fan bleeds through anyway. In a strange way, I give him credit for that -- all FO's arrogance about its "objectivity," it's reassuring to see that fanhood can break through in the end... even if it often only comes through in a subtle, semi-conscious form.

5. The Redskins should hire Spagnuolo! Case closed.

185
by zip (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:35pm

As a Bills fan, I can now finally forgive the Giants for 1990.

Great game. Shame so many people seem to watch sports solely so that they can belittle others when "their team" does well.

186
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:35pm

I've been accused of being a Patriots hater by people in threads here, and I've been accused of being a Patriots homer by people in threads here. I have come to the conclusion that the obnoxious anti-Patriots contingent is worse than the obnoxious Patriots fan contingent. However, since the only way to be exposed less to both of these obnoxious elements is for the Patriots to get out of the headlines, yesterday's result was a good one.

Folks, if you want to call Aaron biased, fine, everybody is entitiled to an opnion. When it gets to the point, however, that people accuse him of fiddling with his statistical models to make the Patriots look better than they are, that's just nuts, unless you think Aaron is so nuts that he doesn't understand that such behavior would self-damaging, which would still be a nutty belief to hold about Aaron.

If it is a matter that you truly don't thing statistical analysis is useful in analyzing the performance of football teams, well, you are entitiled to that opinion as well, but why on earth are you visiting this site?

187
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:38pm

186: As someone from the obnoxious anti-Pats contingent, I think it is completely fair to say that we're the more obnoxious group at this point.

But the obnoxious Pats fans have been obnoxious for far longer, and additionally, the Patriots have done quite a bit to genuinely earn that hatred. (We're not allowed to discuss some of the reasons why here.)

188
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:54pm

Hey, last week, I stated that it was ridiculous to call the '07 Patriots the greatest team ever, because it was evident to me that they had not, were not going to, simply obliterate playoff opponents in the manner that some teams with 15-1, 14-2, or even 13-3 regular season records had done. That got me called a Patriots hater, not for the first time, so I certainly don't mean to go easy on obnoxious Patriots fans. The obnoxious anti-Pats contingent has really been bad lately, however.

189
by Jim (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 12:54pm

Here's what interests me about that game: just how good is Tom Brady? (Or any QB, really). The most interesting work to be done by the analytic community will be to figure out ways to isolate QBs (and RBs) from their lines. Brady was pretty good last night - no INTs, no real near misses that I recall, respectable QB rating of 82.5 - but he sure wasn't TOM BRADY. Put pressure on him, and the gap between him and others looks a lot smaller. For example, comparing Brady and Romo against the rejuvenated post-season Giants - both had YPAs between 5.5 and 5.6, both turned the ball over once, both looked flustered compared to a normal game for them.

190
by Walt (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 2:44pm

I was rooting for the Giants last night, but seeing the classless fans that showed up today, I'm already regretting it.

191
by Bob P (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 3:04pm

#187: Bingo.

As as a Jets fan/AFL fan who has seen all XLII Super Bowls (and who rooted for the Patriots in their first five appearances), something happened yesterday that I never would have believed: I was rooting for a pre-merger NFL team over an AFL team.

192
by Herm? (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 5:01pm

The Bottom Line is THIS:

Norman Einstein/Thomas Payne has not made one relevant post at this site. It is ALWAYS only a criticism of the New England Patriots or FO, and it almost always contains the word "slurp".

Because these posts are always off-topic, always clearly anti-Patriot or anti FO, and because of the vulgar usage of the English language, he merits less credibility than he claims this site to have.

For the lack of posting something relevant to football - strategically or statistically; for the lack of understanding / ability to provide constructive arguments, I'll be the first to request it:
Please do not post here anymore.

Your comments are always tired, constantly repeated, and always off-subject.
Please register your complaints directly in the delegated areas. Use the comment threads to make constructive arguments regarding the topic at hand. If you can't, positive humorous posts related to the argument at hand are widely accepted.

193
by mush (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:29pm

176: Why do we care what percentage chance Aaron thought the Giants had?

It's not too hard to connect the dots here. We care what Aaron thinks, and what the site, collectively, thinks. When Aaron writes in this preview that Super Bowl 42 is the greatest mismatch in the game's history, any football fan has some opinion or reaction to that. A lot of people felt he was selling the Giants short, which then introduced the contrary idea that no, wait, Aaron may have said the Giants had a 40 percent chance to win this game (which turned out to be a mild misquoting). There's a discussion and a debate to reconcile two opinions said by one person in two different areas. Some felt the opinions were parallel, others didn't. I think it's worth the time we spent here, honestly, I do.

I also realize that not everyone may agree with me on that.

194
by mush (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 6:34pm

184: I do think FO often lapses into a kind of naive, positivistic triumphalism about the quality of its stats. As often as Aaron can post the disclaimer about DVOA being “just a tool”, you don’t get the sense that he or many of the other writers really believe it. I know the numbers are what makes this site different, and I know the game previews, analysis, etc, have to be based on the numbers — but when FO writers consistently overrate the importance of those numbers in their analysis — when they overuse the “tool” — it IS satisfying to see how limited, and indeed how puny, those numbers often are.

I don't think I feel quite as strongly as you do here, but in a general sense we're in the same neighborhood. I get much of the same vibe from the work here. Doesn't mean I don't see value in FO's work or agree with a lot of it, I just feel that this "statitician's bias" is present more often than perhaps it should be.

195
by Jerry (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:32pm

DVOA and Aaron were clearly off the mark when it came to the Giants (and, probably, the Patriots as well). Not only did the Giants beat the Patriots, they beat them in such a way that convincingly refutes any talk about this being the “greatest mismatch in SB history.” Equal turnovers. Giants with more yards, better yards-per-play, more time of possession. I grant that it was plausible to make the “mismatch” before the game — I thought Pats blowout all the way — but clearly, CLEARLY, that’s not in fact the case.

DVOA measures what it measures; I'm sure that if there's some way to make it better reflect situations like the Giants', Aaron will implement it. More likely, though, this is just an outlier.

The Giants won, and they deserved to win. If this were a best-of-7 series (and it most emphatically is not), I'd still have the Patriots in 5.

196
by FredFarmer (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 11:40am

Dvoa didn't do a great job of predicting the outcome on Sunday,but it wasn't really alone.A more meaningful comparison would be to look at how dvoa fared compared to other stats based tools.

Although it doesn't profess to be a predictive tool you can take the weekly offensive,defensive and special teams dvoas and use it as one.If you did the calculations for the week 17 meeting then dvoa had the Pats winning by 11.True they were out by 8,but that was two closer than the Vegas line that closed at Pats by 13.

Run forward to the Superbowl and dvoa rated the Giants as 10 point dogs (an improvement of 4 points relative to their week 17 Pats meeting).Vegas also had the Giants about 4 points "better in" with the line closing at 12.Again neither method could be termed as close,but again dvoa was closer.

Two games don't tell you a whole lot,but over this season the Vegas line has been out from the actual margin of victory by almost 11 points per game on average.A fairly typical number for Vegas.

Dvoa generated predictions have on average been out by almost exactly the same margin,while outperfoming Vegas in 58% of the games played since week 5.A damn fine performance.

The best statistical methods I saw on the Superbowl had the Pats winning by just 4.Those tended to split offense and defense by passing and rushing stats and as a result picked up on the difficulty the Pats would have running the ball.And perhaps that indicates where dvoa should move forward.

Total dvoa is a ok catchall stat,but it says nothing about likely matchups.An average total dvoa could mean a team has a good offense and a bad defense,vice versa or anything in between.

Splitting dvoa into offense,defense and ST improves the situation massively.

Going the extra yard and routinely reporting offensive dvoa split by passing and running numbers may have revealed the potentially vulnerable machups the Pats faced.From a commercial point of view it may also encourage subscription to the premium database.

I don't think posters should be too harsh on what they perceive as pro Pats bias in some of the articles here.

One potential pitfall of trying to write an interesting article based around unique stats is that the stats should just speak for themselves.If you include the Pats impressive dvoa on passing offense and then run through Tom Brady and his targets then subconciously you can think you're making two distinct points.When in fact you're making the same one twice.If you do this from the position of a fan,in the biggest game of the year as well,then I'd imagine it's doubly difficult to remain level headed.

197
by David (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:57pm

What do Giant fans want here?
The '01 Pats also won the SB, but the Rams were the superior team...PERIOD.
Just not that game. The Giants were BETTER on Sunday, but there is NO WAY they were the better team overall this year. Otherwise, explain 6 losses, including late season BLOWOUTS to MINN and WASH.
Before you criticize Aaron, ask yourself why you didn't bet a TRUCKLOAD on the moneyline on the G-men. It's easy to boast AFTER the game. Where were these posts last week?
As for the Brady/Manning comparison, did you actually watch the game? Brady, getting killed, NEVER threw a pass that had even a chance to be picked.
Manning threw at least 6 passes that hit defenders directly and SHOULD have been picked, 3 on the final drive. The strange part is the 1 pick wasn't one of the shaky passes I'm referring to. That was a Smith bobble.
Giant fans, enjoy this and don't sound so bitter "No one believed". You didn't either. You wanted to get rid of Eli just 2 short months ago and you cheered Tiki's anti Coughlin rants earlier this season. Or have you conveniently forgotten?
Care to wager which team wins a SB next?

198
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 5:19am

"What do Giant fans want here?"

Don't ask if you can't afford it. BTW I'm not a Ginats fan, I was just one for the playoffs :-)

"The ‘01 Pats also won the SB, but the Rams were the superior team…PERIOD.
Just not that game. The Giants were BETTER on Sunday, but there is NO WAY they were the better team overall this year. Otherwise, explain 6 losses, including late season BLOWOUTS to MINN and WASH."

The Vikings and Redskins losses are irrelevant. Against the Pats, they lost by 3 and won by 3. I'd say that makes them even. Who cares how the Giants and Pats did against other teams? I didn't see those other teams playing in the Super Bowl. Did you?

"Before you criticize Aaron, ask yourself why you didn’t bet a TRUCKLOAD on the moneyline on the G-men. It’s easy to boast AFTER the game. Where were these posts last week?"

Because I just don't gamble, period. Knowing my luck, that would have ensured a Pats win. But I did say that the Giants had the best chance of all NFC playoff teams of beating the Pats precisely because of how that first game went, whereas everyone here chose to pick the Pats in a blowout *despite* how that first game went.

"As for the Brady/Manning comparison, did you actually watch the game? Brady, getting killed, NEVER threw a pass that had even a chance to be picked."

True, but only because it's hard to pick off a pass that sails ten feet over everyone's head.

"Manning threw at least 6 passes that hit defenders directly and SHOULD have been picked, 3 on the final drive. The strange part is the 1 pick wasn’t one of the shaky passes I’m referring to. That was a Smith bobble."

That bobble sure was a bad break for the Giants, wasn't it? I mean, they'd have scored for sure if Smith catches a ball that hits him right in the hands! But I forgot, whenever a team wins it means they got *all* the breaks and luck, how stupid of me.

"Giant fans, enjoy this and don’t sound so bitter “No one believed”. You didn’t either. You wanted to get rid of Eli just 2 short months ago and you cheered Tiki’s anti Coughlin rants earlier this season. Or have you conveniently forgotten?
Care to wager which team wins a SB next?"

Since you're all about betting why don't YOU tell the rest of us who YOU'RE betting on to win it all next season, tough guy?

199
by David (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 2:17pm

DolFan, you are the one true idiot posting here. I can figure out that you are anti-Patriot, so Sunday was the best day of your life. Congrats. What are your other points? Your posts are rambling, disjointed, and incoherent. Your reading comprehension is very weak as well. Try to understand that this thread is all about Giants fans gloating that Aaron expected a NE win. AFTER the fact, it's easy to make a case that NYG/NE was anyone's game. I just find it hard to accept that predicting a 18-0 team to beat a 13-6 on a neutral field is a crime. As a NE fan, I wasn't OFFENDED that everyone picked STL six years ago. Even now, I won't try to argue that NE was the best team in the NFL that year. STL was, but they lost the SB. And '01 NE was a far superior team to the '07 NYG. They ended up winning the final 9 games, were a #2 seed, and finished on a 11-1 run, that lone loss being by 7 points to STL. Also, the '01 NE margin of victory was over 100 points better than the '07 NYG. This is a better indicator than pure record, not that any stat works 100%. The Giants had brutal losses in December, so this was an incredible, unexpected run. I'd say the Colts DEFENSIVE turnaround last year was similar, but they were always a SB contending team due to the offensive firepower and started 9-0.
These Giants came out of NOWHERE!
That's NOT an insult. It's a fact.
My final comment is, if this was SO EASY to see coming, than I would expect that all these soothsayers bet a decent chuck of money so they could make 4x on the "obvious" Giant win. I don't gamble, but I also don't pretend AFTER a game that I saw it coming all along.
Upsets happen all the time. That's why we watch. But that doesn't mean predicting a NE win was stupid.
Aaron was absolutely correct. A few days ago saying the Giants had "no chance" was equally stupid as EXPECTING a Giants win.

200
by mush (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2008 - 4:43pm

In a nutshell, here's the bottom line. The Outsiders don't love the Patriots, they don't hate the Giants. They're slaves to the numbers, and at times, they trust them too much. There's the story, that's where the bias is.

201
by Tim (not verified) :: Fri, 02/08/2008 - 12:08am

Mr. Schatz deserves all the bashing he gets because he put himself out there by stating several times that the Giants were the worst team to ever make it to the Superbowl.

While some might claim that he was only following statistics, the reality is that he was cherry picking stats that fit into his argument of the Giants being far inferior to the Patriots. The obvious stat of the Giants losing 38-35 in week 17 didn't seem to figure into his sophisticated analysis.

In the future, I will read this blog for comedic purposes, not for any serious football coverage. I don't see how anyone with any self-respect could view this site as anything but comedy.

202
by David (not verified) :: Fri, 02/08/2008 - 4:22pm

Re:201

After the fact it seems silly, but there actually is a case (BEFORE THE GAME) that the NYG WERE the worst team to make a SB and this WAS the biggest mismatch based on:

1) NYG were the first non 11+ win team to make the SB since the 16 win season began.
2) The point differential was +315 vs. +22. (This may not be exact)
3) Do you ever EXPECT a 16 win team to lose to a 10 win team?

That said, the upset happened. And it is true that NE was winning less convincingly as the season progressed and NY got hot, so optimism for NYG fans was understandable. Even so, NE won its playoff games by 11 and 9, and the 9 could've been more as NE held the ball on SD for the final 9:40. The NYG won the last 2 games by 4 & 3 in OT. So were they REALLY hotter than NE going in?

Great for NYG fans. As a NE fan, I enjoyed the '01 upset over STL but NEVER expressed disbelief that "no one gave us a chance". I didn't expect NEUTRAL observers to predict a NE win. What's so different here?

It's easy to ridicule Aaron AFTER the fact. If you're so perfect, start your own site or better still, go to Vegas. There are million to be made for those who can predict football games with even 60% accuracy.

203
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Tue, 02/12/2008 - 2:39pm

#196: "Dvoa generated predictions have on average been out by almost exactly the same margin,while outperfoming Vegas in 58% of the games played since week 5.A damn fine performance."

DVOA is the best public method to measure, not predict, regular season performance. The claim of 58% needs an asterisk when someone gives themselves credit for laying -2.5 or taking +3.5. The grading is loose from the site that claims that number.

" The best statistical methods I saw on the Superbowl had the Pats winning by just 4.Those tended to split offense and defense by passing and rushing stats and as a result picked up on the difficulty the Pats would have running the ball.And perhaps that indicates where dvoa should move forward."

Those same methods got wacked right out of the gate every week when the Pats outscored traditional historical models.

" Total dvoa is a ok catchall stat,but it says nothing about likely matchups.An average total dvoa could mean a team has a good offense and a bad defense,vice versa or anything in between."

Great point on how DVOA can move forward from a prediction standpoint, however DVOA is interested in measurement not prediction.

All favorites in Superbowls are inflated by oddsmakers significantly. Also, blowouts vs hapless teams overrate a DVOA type power rating system when the superior team actually steps up in class. Thus half ass wins versus the Giants, Jacksonville, and San Diego were expected. True odds might be New England -7 or less, which equates to the New York Giants winning 40% of the time, not a monumental upset at all. In a single elimination tournament ANYTHING can happen, the best team rarely wins the the NCAA basketball tournament.

The NFL playoffs are similar to the college bowls, resting starters creates a "time off" factor for most teams creating a "new season". The "new season" from weeks 16-17 can energize teams, especially if they needed wins late to get in the playoffs. Teams true strengths are often masked if they have injured players that are coming back or how they entered the playoffs. Anybody can win, particularly if the noted "superior" team had recently beaten the "inferior" team. Run & Shoot vs good defenses lead to upsets. Statistics, emotion, & match up all favored the Giants, they were life or death to win the game, but they win 40+% of the time if they played the game a million times.

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by Jimmy (not verified) :: Wed, 02/13/2008 - 1:08am

#158/#230 above, my bad, with a line of 7 teams win around 70% of the time. Here are some ballpark numbers of converting the line to a straight up win percentage.

LINE = WIN; -1=52%, -3=58%, -4=62%, -7=72%, -10=82%, -14=96%

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by Consuelo (not verified) :: Sat, 12/08/2012 - 2:14pm

I'd like to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this blog. I'm hoping to check out the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as well.

In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me
to get my own, personal blog now ;)