| Predictions - YTD
vs. Patriots - (Smith)
Passing Game Thoughts: Eli Manning had a terrific regular season
that was highly overshadowed due to the play of Aaron Rodgers,
Tom Brady and Drew Brees. He threw for 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns,
and his excellence has continued in the postseason. In his three
playoff games, Manning has thrown for an average of 307.6 yards
and a total of eight touchdowns with just a single interception.
As fantasy owners surely know, he has an outstanding receiving
corps, with wideouts Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz averaging a
combined 193 receiving yards per game. Nicks didn’t play
when the Giants and Patriots when toe-to-toe back in Week 9, but
Cruz six catches for 91 yards and tight end Jake Ballard added
67 yards on four catches, including a touchdown.
The Patriots were second-to-last in total defense during the regular
season, mostly because they gave up 293.9 passing yards per game,
which was 31st in the NFL but 34.1 yards worse than the Saints,
who were 30th. They faced Tim Tebow in the Divisional round of
the playoffs, so there isn’t much to glean from that game,
but allowed Joe Flacco to throw for 306 yards and a pair of touchdowns
in the AFC Championship game, which was his third-highest total
of the season. When the Pats and Giants played way back in early
November, Manning threw for 250 yards and two scores with one
interception, but as we mentioned, that was without Nicks.
Running Game Thoughts: The Giants feature a running back duo of
Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, each of whom has had success
at different points of the season. Overall, Bradshaw ran for 659
yards and nine touchdowns during the regular season, and Jacobs
ran for 571 yards and seven scores. The postseason started out
well for Jacobs, as he gained 92 yards on 14 carries against the
Falcons, but he’s run for only 35 yards on 14 carries since
then, despite having the team’s only rushing score in that
time. Bradshaw, on the other hand, has been pretty consistent
throughout the postseason, with games of 63, 63, and 74 rushing
yards, as well as 94 receiving yards, and is the better fantasy
option right now.
New England was 17th in the league against the run during the
regular season, and though both the Broncos and Ravens collectively
ran for over 100 yards against the Patriots in the postseason,
neither team managed to run for more than 3.7 yards per carry.
Bradshaw didn’t suit up against New England in the team’s
first meeting, but Jacobs rumbled for 72 yards and a touchdown
on 18 carries.
Eli Manning: 295 yds passing, 3 TD, 1 INT
Hakeem Nicks: 90 yds receiving, 1 TD
Victor Cruz: 70 yds receiving, 1 TD
Mario Manningham: 45 yds receiving
Jake Ballard: 30 yds receiving, 1 TD
Travis Beckum: 15 yds receiving
Bradshaw: 65 yds rushing / 30 yds receiving
Brandon Jacobs: 35 yds rushing, 1 TD
Passing Game Thoughts: Tom Brady was second in the NFL in passing
yards during the regular season with 5,235, and nearly 2,900 went
to the duo of Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski. Brady tossed 39 touchdowns
as well, with 26 going to the same pair of pass-catchers. Gronkowski,
who had arguably the best single-season ever for a tight end,
reportedly has a high ankle sprain, but he’ll almost certainly
be on the field during the Super Bowl. If he doesn’t go,
look for an even bigger workload for fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez.
Even if Gronkowski does play, Hernandez will get enough touches
to be a valuable fantasy commodity. He was third at the tight
end position in fantasy points during the regular season, and
has added running the ball to his repertoire this postseason,
making him that much more valuable to fantasy owners.
Like the Patriots, the Giants were at the bottom of the league
rankings in pass defense during the regular season. They were
29th in the league in that statistic, but in their three postseason
games, only Aaron Rodgers has thrown for at least 200 yards against
them. New York held Matt Ryan to 199 yards and Alex Smith to 196
yards. Brady threw for 342 yards and two touchdowns against the
Giants when the team’s first played this season, but he
also threw a pair of interceptions. Also, both Welker and Gronkowski
collected over 100 receiving yards in that game, with tight ends
Hernandez and Gronkowski adding touchdowns (as usual).
Running Game Thoughts: The Patriots are obviously a pass-first
team, which limits the fantasy outlook for their main running
back, BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The Law Firm was the team’s
leading rusher this season, but with just 667 yards, a total that
was 27th in the league and fewer yards than three separate players
for the Carolina Panthers. Still, he did have 11 touchdowns, and
if the team is going to score on the ground, it will be BGE who
will do it (barring another Tom Brady sneak, of course).
New York was 19th in the NFL in run defense during the regular
season, having allowed 121.3 yards per game on the ground. They’ve
been much better against the run in their trio of playoff games,
holding Michael Turner to 41 yards and Frank Gore to 74. Green
Bay didn’t run much against the Giants, with Aaron Rodgers
being the team’s leading rusher with 66 yards. Green-Ellis
didn’t have a noteworthy contest against the Giants in November,
gaining 52 yards on 12 carries.
Tom Brady: 330 yds passing, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rob Gronkowski: 110 yds receiving, 2 TD
Wes Welker: 105 yds receiving, 1 TD
Aaron Hernandez: 65 yds receiving
Deion Branch: 35 yds receiving
BenJarvus Green-Ellis: 55 yds rushing, 1 TD
Danny Woodhead: 20 yds rushing
Prediction: Patriots 34, Giants 28 ^ Top
vs. Patriots - (Autry)
Passing Game Thoughts: There was a stretch during the second half
of the season when Eli Manning tossed 11 interceptions over an
eight-game period. Needless to say, he’s been the catalyst
behind New York’s surge into the playoffs. Manning has eight
TDs in this year’s playoffs with just one INT. And when
you consider he led the Giants in defeating the top two seeds
in the NFC on the road, you realize that Eli is indeed one of
the elite QBs in the league. There are whispers that Hakeem Nicks
has been limited in practice, and with his history of bumps and
bruises, that may raise an eyebrow or two. But Giants fans shouldn’t
be concerned about his availability. Victor Cruz rounds out a
dynamic receiving corps that should find success against a Patriot
defense that shouldn’t be confused with Patriot defenses
New England’s defense finished the year ranked 31st against
the pass, leaving many to second guess the supposed genius of
Bill Belichick. While the defense held an inept Denver passing
attack in check during the divisional round of the playoffs, a
Baltimore offense that’s not known as one of the league’s
best had its way against New England in the Conference Championship.
Expect New York to duplicate the success the Ravens found throwing
against the Patriots. With the Giants’ superior receiving
threats, however, New England’s secondary will have a much
more difficult time keeping up.
Running Game Thoughts: The Giants were the league’s worst
running offense in 2011, and they haven’t done much to improve
that status in the playoffs. Sure, they rumbled for 172 yards
against an uninspired Atlanta Falcons team in the wildcard round,
but they’ve averaged only 90 yards in the two games since.
Don’t expect either Ahmad Bradshaw or Brandon Jacobs to
be much of an overwhelming factor. This game will be won or lost
by the play at the QB position, no doubt about it.
New England’s defense didn’t have many bright spots
this season, but their run defense was the only component on that
side of the ball that mattered. They even limited Ray Rice last
week to a paltry 3.1 yards per carry on 21 attempts. They should
do just as well against the Giants, a team that doesn’t
rely on the running game anyway.
Eli Manning: 265 yards passing / 3 TDs / 1 INT
Hakeem Nicks: 110 yards receiving / 1 TD
Victor Cruz: 75 yards receiving / 1 TD
Mario Manningham: 45 yards receiving / 1 TD
Jake Ballard: 30 yards receiving
Bradshaw: 55 yards rushing
Brandon Jacobs: 40 yards rushing
Passing Game Thoughts: Tom Brady has played in 21 playoff games
and last week’s contest against Baltimore was his worst.
It was the first time he went without a TD pass in the postseason,
and beyond that, he looked completely out of sync the entire game.
Baltimore’s defenses has a way of making opposing QBs look
bad, but nobody expected Brady to be shut down to such a degree.
It will be imperative that TE Rob Gronkowski (ankle) is as healthy
as he can be, because his presence and productivity are key to
New England’s success. Both Gronkowski and Wes Welker had
huge games when these teams met in the regular season. They will
need to duplicate those games if the Patriots are to win this
Part of the success the Giants had against New England when these
teams played in the Super Bowl several years ago was the pressure
New York was able to put on Brady. Their defensive front has been
on a rampage this postseason, and they will rely on that upfront
disruption to try to stall the potentially explosive Patriot offense.
New York’s secondary has battled through injuries all season
long but still have a way of limiting teams’ productivity
through the air. Brady should rebound nicely in this game despite
the formidable defensive pressure he’s sure to be under.
Running Game Thoughts: New England’s running game has been,
at best, a complementary component of the team’s offense,
and BenJarvus Green-Ellis in particular has been its most productive
player. That’s not saying much, considering he’s averaged
only 25 yards rushing per game over the last seven, including
the playoffs. He does have a nose for the end zone though, with
his five rushing TDs over that stretch being proof. But make no
mistake, Brady could easily have 45 pass attempts in this game,
leaving little, if any, opportunity for stellar rushing numbers.
The Giants have given up almost 300 yards on the ground over
the last two playoff games, but they’ve limited individual
players from doing much on the ground. They held Frank Gore to
only 74 yards, and he earned every inch. Again, this game will
be won or lost by how well the QBs play. BJGE could sneak and
get a short score, but beyond that, his production could be limited
and perhaps even trumped by the likes of Danny Woodhead.
Tom Brady: 320 yards passing / 3 TDs
Wes Welker: 120 yards receiving / 2 TDs
Deion Branch: 45 yards receiving
Rob Gronkowski: 90 yards receiving / 1 TD
Aaron Hernandez: 55 yards receiving
Danny Woodhead: 40 yards rushing
BenJarvus Green-Ellis: 30 yards rushing / 1 TD
Prediction: Patriots 31, Giants 27 ^ Top