Tuesday, 24 January 2012

One small step for man one Giant leap for Eli kind


We have our Super Bowl XLVI participants and with it we have a rematch of one of the most scintillating final games ever played.

This time there is no David Tyree to pull off another miracle catch, but the man who threw that pass is back and this time he is after a second ring.

Eli Manning, little brother of fellow Super Bowl winning quarterback Peyton Manning, has now equalled his older sibling in reaching the big dance twice.

Had to put that last sentence in writing and stare at it quite hard because it wasn't exactly likely Eli was going to be crowned champion of the NFC when the week before Christmas the Giants sat at a pedestrian 7-7, having lost to the Washington Redskins for the second time in 14 games.

Now that the Giants have won their last five games by a combined 74 points (two regular season games and three playoff contests) they are without doubt hotter than the devil's own personal baker's oven during a heatwave.

The big story is of course the re-match element of this contest, after the Patriots and Giants met in Super Bowl XLII in 2008 in the warmth of Arizona. That day Eli Manning was crowned most valuable player (MVP), as he led the G-men to paydirt against the Patriots, on one of the most memorable fourth-quarter drives in NFL history.

From a Patriots perspective this is quite a funny one. Tom Brady is playing in his fifth Super Bowl, his first since 2008, but remarkably marks eight years since New England last lifted a Vince Lombardi trophy (a 24-21 win against the Philadelphia Eagles).

The MVP in the 2004 Super Bowl was none other than Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch, who eight years later, via an extended stay in Seattle, is back catching the pigskin from Tom Brady.

Branch, who has never had a 1,000 yard season, is one of those rare specimens who saves his best career games for Super Bowls. Look at his stat-line on his two Super Bowl appearances:
  • 2003 Super Bowl XXXVIII - 10 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown
  • 2004 Super Bowl XXXIX - 11 catches 133 yards and the MVP trophy
This time the Patriots key weapon is the double headed tight-end monster called The Gronkandez (Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez) who have been impossible to defend.

In the Patriots two playoff wins this season Branch has caught just five passes, but I for one would not put it past Coach Belichick to mix it up and focus the gameplan on getting Branch another ten catches.

I'm in fact that confident that Branch could have an MVP type game that as soon as the MVP odds come out I'll put a fiver on him getting a second award. (Branch currently stands at 14-1 with most bookies as the first touchdown scorer).

Much more Super Bowl pre-game analysis to come right here on the Primetime Sports blog, but for now it's time to prepare for the most pointless sporting contest ever (maybe with the exception of the third/fourth place game in the World Cup).

The Pro-Bowl has about as much point as a snooker ball. A contest where players are voted in because fans know someone's name and can't be bothered to properly research the merits of the players who deserve to be recognised for their outstanding season. A game where hitting is not encouraged (unless you were called Sean Taylor - may he rest in peace). A game where you start voting after less than half of the regular season has been played.

I agree with recognising players for what they have achieved over 16 games, but making them all play a token game in Honolulu each year is just daft. Just give the players a cheque and a nice certificate and leave it at that.

Rant over - Super Bowl XLVI is just 11 days away and I'm already excited.

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