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Patriots will beat the 49ers in the Superbowl!!

Posted on: January 21, 2012 5:45 pm
 

After an exciting divisional round, the NFL is back with a couple mouthwatering matchups. There are four teams remaining, and all of these teams deserve to be here. Thus, each team has good odds of winning the Super Bowl. The table below shows each team’s probability of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in Indianapolis next month.

As one might expect, the Patriots are heavy favorites to win the Super Bowl. They’re at 47.4 percent after routing the Denver Broncos 45-10 in Foxborough. The Pats have the best quarterback left in the playoffs inTom Brady and are led by mastermind Bill Belichick.

The odds for the 49ers and the Giants reveal an interesting difference between the conference round and the Super Bowl. The Niners are slight favorites heading into the weekend, primarily because of home-field advantage. However, they are less likely to win the Super Bowl than the Giants with a winning percentage of 18.8 compared to 19.0 for the G-Men. The difference is slight, but likely reflects New York’s success on the road.

The Ravens have the lowest winning percentage at 14.8 percent, thanks to questions on offense and a tough trip to New England on Sunday. Each team’s Super Bowl odds have improved significantly from the start of the playoffs, except for the Ravens. The Patriots improved from 16 percent, the Niners improved from 7 and the Giants improved from 2. The Ravens, on the other hand, have improved just 0.8 percent from 14.

This is a result of who the Ravens are playing this Sunday. New England will be a tough test for Baltimore, as the Patriots have a 68.7 percent chance of winning the game. The odds are stacked against them, but the Ravens can improve their odds significantly with a great defensive game or a good running game.

If running back Ray Rice rushes for at least 75 yards, which is possible at 38.6 percent, the game is nearly a toss-up with the Ravens winning 49.1 percent of the time. Baltimore’s odds get even better when Rice rumbles for an additional 25 yards.

If Rice rushes for at least 100 yards, the Ravens win 59.3 percent of the time. A good Baltimore running game controls the clock and keeps the Patriots’ offense off the field.

The Ravens’ defense was one of the best in the league all season, allowing just 16.6 points per game on 288.9 yards per game, but the Patriots’ offense is nearly unstoppable. Even if Baltimore holds New England to under 350 total yards, nearly 100 fewer yards than New England’s regular-season average, and forces one or more turnovers, the Ravens are still underdogs. If the Ravens can force at least two turnovers, their winning percentage jumps up to 57.9. However, that scenario is very unlikely at just a 12.8 percent chance of occurring.

Even though the Patriots are heavy favorites, the Ravens are more than capable of winning on the road behind Rice, but can offensive coordinator Cam Cameron call the right plays?

In the other game, San Francisco has a slight edge because of its playing at Candlestick Park, but that game is essentially a toss-up. The Pats are one Rice game away from a vacation. No one team is a lock to win or even make it the Super Bowl, and that’s what makes football great. This should be another spectacular Sunday.

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Since: Jan 1, 2012
Posted on: January 28, 2012 12:02 pm
 

Patriots will beat the 49ers in the Superbowl!!

Let's ponder one of those chicken-or-egg questions. Call it a Belichick-or-Tom question.

Which ranks first in achieving Super Bowl glory, a great coach or a great quarterback?

Can you win with one and not the other? Can you win if you have neither? And does it get real complicated when your quarterback's older brother is also the archrival of the quarterback of the team you're playing, but your brother's neck hurts and his team seems to be interested in seeing other people?

To reach my conclusion, I looked back at the last 12 Super Bowls and tried to map out which team had the better coach, subjective as it is. Then I looked at which team had the better quarterback, subjective as that is, except when comparing Peyton Manning to Rex Grossman. We'll leave that one alone. No sense scaring the kids.

I did notice a "Mr. Obvious" trend: Most teams that reach the Super Bowl have both a top-notch coach and an ace quarterback.

That's true for Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Giants' Tom Coughlin and the Patriots' Bill Belichick have proven records of excellence. Most would say the Pats' Tom Brady earns an edge on Eli Manning for his body of work, but Manning won the last time they met, and the gap seems smaller every season.

In other words, I don't think this examination will predict this year's winner.

That said, I'd give the slight edge for more important to the great coach.

Over the last 12 Super Bowls, the team with the better coach has prevailed over the team with the better quarterback twice:

* Super Bowl XXXV (2000 season): Baltimore won because Brian Billick was brilliant with a tough defense. Giants coach Jim Fassel was not quite Billick, despite having the better quarterback in Kerry Collins (remember him?) vs. Ravens' Trent Dilfer.

* Super Bowl XXXVII (2002 season): I have to give the quarterback edge to Oakland's Rich Gannon (MVP that season) over Tampa Bay's Brad Johnson. The Bucs won because Jon Gruden knew best how to coach Tony Dungy's former players to outgun Raiders coach Bill Callahan. Gruden's Dungy-built defense picked Gannon off five times. It didn't hurt that Gruden had coached Gannon.

The team with the better coach, but relatively even quarterbacks prevailed three times:

* Super Bowl XLIV (2009 season): Saints coach Sean Payton's game plan, including daring offensive maneuvers and an onside kick, caught Colts coach Jim Caldwell in too-late reactionary mode, despite the fact the two QBs (Drew Brees and Peyton Manning) were equals.

* Super Bowl XLIII (2008 season): Take your pick between Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Arizona's Kurt Warner. They had different, but effective styles. I gave the slight coaching edge to the Steelers' Mike Tomlin over Arizona's Ken Whisenhunt because of his calm under pressure.

* Super Bowl XXXIV (1999 season): St. Louis' Warner and Tennessee's Steve McNair both were big-time playmakers, but the experience of the Rams' Dick Vermeil prevailed over the exuberance of the Titans' Jeff Fisher.

The team with the better quarterback but relatively even coaches won once:

* Super Bowl XLV (2010 season): Some might disagree, but I feel the Packers' Aaron Rodgers brings more consistent play to games than the Steelers' Roethlisberger. The coaches, Green Bay's Mike McCarthy and Pittsburgh's Tomlin, both draw the most out of their teams.

The team that had the better coach and better quarterback –not surprisingly – won five times:

* The Colts' Dungy/Manning over the Bears' Lovie Smith/Grossman in XLI (2006 season); the Steelers' Bill Cowher/Roethlisberger over the Seahawks' Mike Holmgren/Matt Hasselbeck in XL (2005 season); the Patriots' Belichick/Brady over the Eagles' Andy Reid/Donovan McNabb in XXXIX (2004 season); Belichick/Brady over Carolina's John Fox/Jake Delhomme in XXXVIII (2003 season); and Belichick/Brady over the Rams' Mike Martz/Warner in XXXVI (2001 season).

So that leaves one Super Bowl that doesn't fit into any of the above categories. That would be Super Bowl XLII (2007 season), when the Giants beat the Patriots to ruin the potential unbeaten season for New England. Even if you labeled coaches Belichick and Coughlin even, Brady was clearly a better quarterback at that point than Eli Manning. Yet the Giants won.

So where does that leave us for the rematch? Without a clear-cut predictor of the winner, unless you're ready to say Eli's better than Brady these days.




Since: Jan 1, 2012
Posted on: January 28, 2012 11:59 am
 

Patriots will beat the 49ers in the Superbowl!!

When the New England Patriots lost to the New York Giants 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII, defense was the real story. Eli Manning was the game's Most Valuable Player, but many would argue that the award should have done to defensive lineman Justin Tuck, who got in Tom Brady's face all day and made consistent passing impossible for a usually near-perfect quarterback.

Fast-forward four years, and the issues facing the Patriots are different this time, though New York's front four is every bit the beast it was then. Eli Manning is no longer that young but inconsistent quarterback who benefitted from a David Tyree miracle catch — he's now one of the most reliable quarterbacks in the game. The trio of Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, and Victor Cruz is one of the best receiver corps in the NFL, and surely the most underrated. When the two teams faced off in Week 9, the result was a 24-20 Giants win, and Nicks didn't even play in that game.

A Patriots defense that has been one of the worst against the pass all season went with an interesting set of strategies in that game. They rarely blitzed — in fact, New England registered no sacks in the contest — but there were enough zone blitzes and other intermediate coverage concepts to affect Manning's ability to get things moving to his favorite formation — the three-receiver set.

Of his 39 total attempts, Manning threw 22 passes with three receivers on the field, and he completed just eight for 109 yards. Safety Patrick Chung was often tasked to hood any slot and slant coverage, and beat the daylights out of whoever came over the middle. The Pats played more nickel and dime sets as opposed to bringing the house.

It was a great strategy, but the Giants have now seen it, and the Patriots know that they're facing an offense that's more efficient now. Second-year defensive back Devin McCourty, who struggled at cornerback in 2011 after a strong rookie campaign and has alternated at safety at times, said on Thursday that with Nicks back in the fold, it's a whole new ballgame.

"It kind of changed how they played compared to how they're playing now," McCourty said of Nicks' addition. "They have a great quarterback. Eli has been doing a great job. They have three phenomenal receivers. They made plays all throughout the playoffs, whether Cruz, Manningham or Nicks. I think if you put those guys together with a quarterback like that, they create so many different matchup problems that throughout any playoff game they're taking advantage. That's why you see so many different guys have big games each of the different games. I think just to prepare for all those guys is the toughest thing."

Vince Wilfork has been a force throughout the postseason. 

McCourty and his defense will also have to worry about a Giants' running game that has shown some improvement in the postseason after a lifeless turn at times before. The Patriots didn't just avoid Nicks; they also didn't face Ahmad Bradshaw, and New England has had issues with running backs who can bounce outside and force pursuing linebackers to break contain. That balance could play havoc with a Patriots' offense that will likely be playing against a higher-scoring opponent than it did four years ago.

"Yeah, probably," McCourty said, when asked if the Giants had the most balanced offense they've faced all season. "Looking at their offense, with [Ahmad] Bradshaw, [Brandon] Jacobs and [D.J.] Ware in the backfield … just when you think about especially Jacobs' and Ware's ability to catch balls out of the backfield and you put that together with the receivers they have, everybody can make a catch. The biggest thing is [with] all those guys -- after they get the ball in their hands they're dangerous."

Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork has enjoyed a dominant postseason, and it's possible that against Manning, he'll have to have a similar effect to the one Tuck had on Brady in that last Super Bowl if the Pats want to exact revenge.

"It was a game that went down to the last minute so you can always go back and look to see what you could have done differently," Wilfork said of that Week 9 game. "But I'll tell you what, it was 0-0 at the half. You had two sides that were basically not giving one another [anything]. Everything we got we had to earn and that's what it's going to be. You have two football teams that are coached very, very well. [Tom] Coughlin's done a great job with those guys and it shows. Their defense turned it around and they're making plays and it's just a tough bunch so we're going to have to make more plays."

Wilfork was equally complimentary of Manning's present abilities. "You've seen him grow. You've seen a guy not making the bonehead mistakes. He's protecting the football and that's first and foremost. When you can protect the football offensively, you have a good shot. And I think with the guys surrounding him that can make plays - that's all they have to do is protect the ball and they'll find themselves in pretty good shape. So it's just a team that's going to grind it out for 60 minutes … if we make a mistake or anyone that faces them made a mistake, it's going to cost them."

Understanding the challenge is the first step. The Patriots have another week to prepare for a Super Bowl that could end a lot of four-year nightmares.



The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com