The matchup is set: Giants vs. Patriots. The rematch from the miracle season in 2008. While it isn’t as much as a miracle this year, it’s still remarkable how the Giants got here. Left for dead in Week 15 after laying an egg against the Redskins, they’ve now beaten everyone in their path and are on a magical run. Even the Patriots, with their porous defense and their ugly game against the Ravens, are a bit of a shock to be in the big game. With the way football is, it’s so hard to tell what the outcome can be. Anything can happen, and the two championship games truly showed that. I’m going to give you a list of ten things to watch in Super Bowl XLVI, and those will be the keys of the game, one a day for the next ten days. What happens in each scenario will greatly affect the outcome of the contest.
10. Can the Giants continue their improved rushing attack? For a team who had the league’s worst rushing attack in the NFL this season, the Giants’ ground game has made quite a turnaround in the postseason. After averaging only 89.2 yards in the regular season, they have improved quite a bit, most notably against the Falcons, when they ran for 172 yards. A lot of that has to do with the fact that Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs are both healthy at the same time. The two backs have always been a strong point of this New York team. Bradshaw is an explosive lead rusher who, when healthy, has been one of the better backs in the NFL. Jacobs is a bruiser who punishes any defender in his path. Although he has gotten older and lost a step, he has run pretty well this year, and his physicality is what has kept him effective. The Giants dominated the ground in the game against Atlanta when Jacobs had 14 carries, but in the other two games, he had less than ten carries and their production dropped a bit. They need to get him going. They face a Patriots defense that has been pretty good against the run and really slowed down Ray Rice last week. Belichick will be scheming his defense to stop Eli Manning, so the Giants need to run the ball so they can get some balance in their offense and control the clock.