We went 2-0 during the conference title games to go 8-2 so far this postseason. I had the Ravens winning outright by three (27-24), and while that didn't happen, it very well might have been 26-23 had Billy Cundiff made a short field goal. Had Lee Evans held onto the touchdown a few plays before, it would have been 27-23. I say this not to boast (well, maybe to boast a little), but also to emphasize that for whatever reason I've been especially hot these playoffs, something that's almost never the case (my playoff record in Staff Picks over the years has been fairly absymal). On the other hand, I'm a Giants fan, which makes it fairly hard for me to see this game with total objectivity. I would never purposely write something I didn't believe just to align it with my rooting interest (hell, I picked the Jets, a team I despise more than any other, over them in Week 16), but full disclosure is warranted - especially given what I'm about to write below:
Super Bowl XLVI
Giants +3 vs. Patriots
Tom Brady is arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, and Bill Belichick is quite possibly the league's greatest-ever coach. The Patriots went 13-3 this year, haven't lost since Week 9 and had the third best scoring differential in the league at +171, a far cry from the Giants' -6. As such, it's perfectly understandable why this line favors New England by three, and many, 39 percent of the public, as well as sharps like Massey-Peabody and Keith Goldner of Numberfire.com find that to be a good value. I'm here to tell you it's not.
The Giants have a far better defense than the Patriots, even if you insist on using the full year stats, something that doesn't do justice to the team's current defensive run during which it's secondary has played much better. Over the last four games, the Giants faced Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith in elimination games and allowed a total of 53 points (13 ppg).
Even though the Patriots never faced the Saints or Packers (or their own offense obviously), the three best units in the league, they still allowed 6.2 yards per play (30th in the league). The Giants, on the other hand, faced the Patriots, Saints and Packers, the Eagles (5th) twice and the Cowboys (10th) twice, and allowed 5.6 YPP (22nd), but just 0.1 YPP from league average.
The Patriots are better offensively, but their best weapon, Rob Gronkowski is badly compromised by a high-ankle sprain, typically a 4-6 week injury, suffered two weeks ago against the Ravens. That leaves Wes Welker, Deion Branch and Aaron Hernandez as Brady's healthy targets against a pass defense that shut down the Packers and Falcons big-play receivers in recent weeks. On the other side of the ball, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham are going to be far more difficult to keep from getting behind the defense, especially on the speedy turf of Lucas Oil Stadium.
Moreover, the Giants front four of Chris Canty, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul are able to get pressure without help, and that allows New York to drop seven into coverage, limiting Brady's options further. The Giants offensive line isn't anything special - and Eli Manning took a savage beating against the 49ers - but it's probably good enough against the Patriots on a neutral field to allow Manning to connect with his playmakers against a below-average secondary.
In short, while the Brady-Belichick mystique and the Patriots' consistently solid season is keeping this number in place, the Giants are the better team, playing on a surface that favors their style of play and match up particularly well against the Patriots.
As such, I'm backing the Giants against the spread, on the moneyline (+120), and even on some adjusted lines: Giants -7.5 (+400), Giants -10.5 (+550) and Giants -14.5 (+800), as I expect them not only to win outright, but quite possibly to blow them out.
Giants 41 - 24
We were 2-0 last week to put us at 8-2 for the playoffs. We were 124-125-7 on the regular season. From 1999-2010 we've gone 1565-1387 (53%, not including ties).