Thursday, February 2, 2012

46 Super Bowl Facts (and Zach's Super Bowl Prediction)

46 Random Facts about the Giants and the Patriots:

1. The Giants and Patriots are a combined 6-4 in Super Bowls. In spite of this, if you add up the composite box scores from each of those Super Bowls, the Patriots have been outscored in every quarter and the Giants only outscored opponents in one (the third quarter).

2. Since 2001, every Super Bowl team from the AFC has played New England over the course of the regular season. Well, except 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2007 when the Patriots were the AFC representative.

3. Since 2006, every Super Bowl team from the NFC has played New England over the course of the regular season.

4. In his 21 playoff games as a starter, Tom Brady has a quarterback rating of 87.6

5. In his 10 playoff games as a starter, Eli Manning has a quarterback rating of 87.5.

6. The Patriots have not played a single game indoors all season. The Giants most recent defeat on the road was their last indoor game, when they lost to the Saints 49-24 in Week 12. It was their biggest margin of defeat for the season.

7. The Patriots played only one road game against a team with a record above .500 (Pittsburgh). The combined record of their road opponents was 61-67 (.477).

8. The Giants played only one road game against a team with a record below .500 (Washington). In fact, including their two road playoff games, the combined record of teams they played on the road was 104-56 (.650).

9. The Giants will be the Patriots ninth road opponent with 9 or fewer wins.

10. The Patriots will be the Giants’ sixth road opponent with 13+ wins.

11. If the Giants win, they will be only the second Super Bowl champ to have a record of .500 or lower at home during the regular season. The first team? The 2007 Giants.

12. In his four games against the Giants, Tom Brady has thrown 5 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and has a quarterback rating of 83.8.

13. In his three games against the Patriots, Eli Manning has thrown 8 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and has a quarterback rating of 93.1.

14. The Patriots scored 30 or more points in all but five games this season. In those games they are 12-1.

15. The Giants have scored 29 or under points in all but five games this season. In those games, they are 8-6.

16. Against their regular season opponents, the Patriots allowed a combined quarterback rating of 86.1.

17. Against their regular season opponents, the Giants allowed a combined quarterback rating of 86.1.

18. When Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin were both coaches on the Giants, New York played the Patriots one time: Week 17 of 1990, when the Giants beat the Patriots by three, 13-10.

19. When Bill Belichick coached the Browns and Tom Coughlin coached the Jaguars, the two teams played once: Week 17 of 1995, when Coughlin’s Jaguars beat Belichick’s Patriots by three, 24-21.

20. The next season, the Patriots beat the Giants 23-22 Week 17 of 1996. By this time, Belichick was an assistant head coach for New England, and just a few weeks later, the Patriots beat Coughlin’s Jaguars 20-6 in the AFC Championship game.

21. The first time Tom Brady played Eli Manning, the teams played Week 17 of 2007, when the Patriots beat the Giants by three, 38-35.

22. In the last four years, Belichick’s former team, the Cleveland Browns, have only two victories of 20 points or more: October 13, 2008, when they beat the Giants 35-14, and November 7, 2010, when they beat the Patriots 34-14.

23. Both teams must have understandably felt pretty bad following those defeats: The Giants won their next 7 games and the Patriots won their next 8.

24. All right, back to more immediately relevant facts. The Giants committed 24 turnovers this season. The Patriots have committed 27 turnovers over the last two seasons (it may be worth remembering, however, that this postseason, the Giants have turned the ball over one time in three games, while the Patriots have turned the ball over five times in two games).

25. Similarly, Eli Manning threw 16 interceptions in 2011. Tom Brady has thrown 16 interceptions over the past two seasons. Along those same lines, Eli Manning, who in his eighth season, has thrown 129 interceptions in the regular season, including five seasons with 16 or more. Brady, in his 12th season, has thrown just 155 interceptions, never having thrown more than 14 in a single season.

26. There have been only 13 times in NFL history where a quarterback has completed a 99-yard pass. Two of them happened this year: Week 1, when Tom Brady threw a 99-yard TD pass to Wes Welker, and Week 16, when Eli Manning threw a 99-yard TD pass to Victor Cruz.

27. Wes Welker, who was undrafted, had 1,569 yards receiving and 9 touchdowns this season. Victor Cruz, who was undrafted, had 1,536 yards receiving and 9 touchdowns this season.

28. Maybe you’ve heard this stat, but it needs to be repeated: BenJarvis Green-Ellis has never fumbled. Not in his professional career or his college career. Unbelievable.

29. In 2010, each team won one more regular season game (14 and 10, respectively) than they did this year in 2011 (13 and 9). Despite this, last season saw the Patriots lose their only playoff game while the Giants missed the playoffs altogether.

30. The Giants surrendered 400 points this season. Only four other teams have ever made the playoffs giving up 400 points. The Giants had nine games where they gave up 21 or more points.

31. The 1986 Giants and 1990 Giants (which each took home New York’s first two Lombardi Trophies) gave up a combined 447 points. Together, they had only three games where they gave up 21 or more points.

32. The Patriots surrendered 6,577 yards this season, third-worst all time. They had nine games where they gave up 400 or more yards.

33. The 2001 Patriots and 2003 Patriots (which each took home New England’s first two Lombardi Trophies) had a combined total of five games where they gave up 400 or more yards.

34. Before the season, the most yards given up by a Super Bowl defense was the 2009 Saints, who gave up 5,724 yards. No team had ever made the Super Bowl with a negative point differential. When the Patriots and Giants met in Super Bowl 42 four years ago, both teams surrendered under 5,000 yards on defense; this season, both have given up over 6,000.

35. Brady and Manning combined for 10,168 passing yards this season. The previous record to dueling Super Bowl quarterbacks was in 2009, when Drew Brees and Peyton Manning combined for 8,888 passing yards. Leading up to Super Bowl 1, Bart Starr and Len Dawson combined for 4,784 yards. Both Brady and Manning individually had more yards in 2011.

36. The Patriots have never lost a Super Bowl where they allowed a 300-yard passer (3-0). They’ve never won a Super Bowl where they’ve held the opposing quarterback to under 300 yards (0-3).

37. The three quarterbacks the Giants have beat in Super Bowls? John Elway (Hall of Famer), Jim Kelly (Hall of Famer), and Tom Brady (future Hall of Famer). The one quarterback who defeated the Giants in a Super Bowl? Trent Dilfer.

38. New England hasn’t won a game in Indianapolis since 2007, and the Giants haven’t won there since 2002. When Belichick and Coughlin were coaches on the Giants, New York beat the Colts 24-7 in Indianapolis on Week 9 of 1990.

39. Both Stephen Gostkowski and Lawrence Tynes were perfect in extra points this season. They each missed a total of five field goals, and had longs of 50. They attended college at Memphis and Troy, respectively, which are both names of fabled cities from the ancient Near East.

40. Tom Coughlin and David Tyree both went to college at Syracuse, which is also a fabled city from ancient civilization.

41. In Week 15 of 2007, the Giants suffered an embarrassing home loss to the Redskins, 23-10. They played excellent the rest of the season, with their only remaining loss coming against the Patriots.

42. In Week 15 of 2011, the Giants suffered an embarrassing home loss to the Redskins, 22-10. They’ve played excellent the rest of the season, with their only remaining loss coming against the Patriots (don’t worry, I’ll cross off those last nine words if they win the Super Bowl).

43. Tom Coughlin is the oldest head coach in the NFL, at 65 years old. Bill Belichick is the third-oldest active coach, at 59.

44. Including the Super Bowl, Tom Brady has started in more playoff games (22) than any active player in any position.

45. Super Bowl 46 will be Eli Manning’s 11th playoff game as a starter. In his 11th playoff game as a starter, Tom Brady suffered his first playoff loss, to the Denver Broncos in 2005.

46. Eli Manning will be 31 years, 33 days when he plays in Super Bowl 46. When Tom Brady was 31 years, 35 days old, he faced the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1 of 2008. In the first quarter, Brady injured his left knee and was lost for the season.

OK, so maybe that last statistic was a bit of a downer, and honestly, I don’t want Eli to get injured. Seriously, with all the buildup, suspense, and anticipation, Eli busts his knee in the first quarter and leaves the game? How horrible would that be? No one in their right minds – Giants fan or not – wants to hear the words, “And off the bench hoping to lead the Giants to a Super Bowl victory is David Carr . . .”

The bottom line is we want a good game, and we’ll very likely get one. The Patriots don’t get blown out, and the Giants don’t blow out teams not named the Atlanta Falcons. On the other side, I don’t think there’s any way that Patriots secondary makes a Manning aerial attack irrelevant even with a large lead. As long as Eli’s not facing the Redskins or Seahawks, the Giants will always be in the game.

I’m going to try to be brief with my prediction because (a) I could probably write an 8,000 page book on this game alone, (b) compiling that list of 46 facts took way too much time out of my life, and (c) if you look carefully at the list, you may actually see some key reasons for my prediction (actually, not really). I’ll also try to steer clear of excessive statistics because (cue the cliché police) with a game like this, you have to throw out all statistics.

But you really do. Besides the known facts that the game will be close, the NFC will win the coin toss (for the 15th straight time), and Chris Collinsworth will exclaim the words “WHHHOAAA did you see that?” at least seven times, there are no certainties about Super Bowl 46. It may be the first overtime Super Bowl; it may be the first time since the 80s that football fans in Indianapolis are driven to suicide. What’s worse – your franchise quarterback’s precocious younger brother winning more Super Bowls than your QB, or your team’s mortal enemy over the past decade celebrating its fourth title on your home turf?

There’s been a lot of discussion this week about why the Patriots are favored. Their pass defense is still abysmal, Brady was outplayed by Joe Flacco in Foxboro, Rob Gronkowski’s condition is unknown, and they lost to the G-Men in the regular season. As for New York, you could make the argument that their past two playoff games (at Green Bay and at San Francisco) were tougher matchups than this one. People are still too focused on the difference between 13-3 and 9-7; but if you look at numbers 7 and 8 on my list above, you’ll see that it’s a more complex debate. If these two teams are both 11-5 or 12-4 (and like I said, you have to throw out all stats going into this game), the Giants are 3½ point favorites.

There are basically three factors that will determine the game: (1) If Rob Gronkowski is healthy and plays well, (2) Which pass rush can get to the quarterback more, and (3) Which defense can force more turnovers. Now, I don’t see Gronkowski being at 100 percent; you don’t hobble around in a cast the week before the Super Bowl and play at a high level. The Pats lose a ton without Gronkowski. Advantage Giants. It’s hard to predict the second factor, but I think both defensive lines will make an impact. The Giants have a terrific formula for applying pressure with JPP, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck; but it is hard to ignore a defense which has forced eight sacks in the last two games. Eli was sacked six times in the San Francisco game. Without Gronkowski as a viable target for Brady when he’s under pressure, the Patriots’ previous slight advantage with their monster offensive line disappears and the teams are even.

So it comes down to turnovers, like in so many of the past few Super Bowls. I will throw out one interesting stat: In four of the last five Super Bowls, the winning team has scored a defensive touchdown. Now the Patriots’ secondary may be lousy, but let’s not forget that they forced 23 interceptions during the regular season. The Giants’ secondary has only forced one interception in the postseason. Look at numbers 24, 25, and 28 on my list. New England’s defense makes enough big plays to take care of games late. New York’s piss-poor ability to run the ball (not improving in the playoffs) will cost them.

The biggest factor, though, is Brady and his legacy. If they lose this game, his image is forever tarnished. At this point, how do you not call Brady the greatest QB of all time? Three Super Bowl rings, basically no receivers in his first seven seasons, most TDs for a single season, most consecutive attempts without an interception, beautiful model girlfriends, blah blah blah. You’ve heard it all. But if they lose to the Giants, you can’t say that Brady is the greatest ever – Eli was always able to outplay him in Super Bowls. The best historical pop culture corollary is Tom Hanks. Here’s a guy that wins consecutive Best Actor Oscars in 1993 and 1994, and then gives tremendous performances in Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile, and Cast Away . . . and loses each time. Now in 2012, people aren’t going to readily list Tom Hanks when they say the greatest actors ever. They may say De Niro, Pacino, Hoffman, Brando, or Ryan Gosling, but Hanks is just too lightweight or comic maybe. But in his heaviest, deepest roles at the top of his game, he never won the big one – maybe not so much because his performances weren’t worthy, but because he already won two Oscars. Some of those losses are inexplicable (how does he lose to Roberto Benigni in ’98?) but they do quite a bit in diminishing his unstoppable 1990s aura. Two Oscars made Hanks great, but three would have made him immortal.

Will Brady allow this to happen? We’ve seen him still crying about being drafted in the 6th round. You saw the anger in his eyes against the Broncos a few weeks ago (you don’t think he’ll be angry after that 0 TD, 2 interception performance against the Ravens?) The games Brady has blown weren’t the games where we didn’t believe he could win, but the games everyone was overconfident about the Patriots. Brady’s best games? 2001 in the Super Bowl against St. Louis (no way they beat the Rams); 2004 in the AFC Championship (no way they beat the Stealers); 2006 in the AFC Divisional Round (no way they beat the Chargers; Brady’s impact doesn’t show up in the stats). The facts stack up showing that the Patriots will have serious problems against this team. Brady knows the stakes. If they win, he’s the best quarterback of all time; if they lose, he can never be seriously considered in the running ever again. Just like in 2007, the Patriots are up against history, and have more to lose if they blow it; but this time, they have a chip on their shoulder, and more to prove.

Prediction: New England 31, New York 27 (Do I seriously believe the Patriots are better than the Giants? I’m still not sure. But it is easier picking against the Giants than against Tom Brady. And I’ll never be able to live with myself if I honestly go against my team in the championship.)

(Side note: Here are my five favorite statistics from my list in ascending order: 22, 16 and 17, 36, 37, and 28. I mean, how has this guy never fumbled? Is this remotely possible? And he’s on the same team as the guy who set the record for pass attempts without an interception? As far as I’m concerned, I’ll take no fumbling over the ability to run for 50 yards on any given play.)


  1. Can't stand either team, but I will be rooting for the Patriots because of Wes Welker. Did the same the last time they met up for the Super Bowl, so maybe the outcome will be better this time.

  2. One more fact (Fact 47): In Tom Brady's four Super Bowls, the Patriots have never scored in the first quarter.