This Giants’ Super Bowl run is eerily similar to their 2007 championship season. Both times, New York pulled off an upset at Lambeau Field, and both times they won the NFC Championship game in overtime. The Giants offense will need to produce at a high level if the team hopes to defeat the Patriots once again.
Here are three keys for a New York victory.
1. Run the ball
The Giants offense showed it can overcome an inconsistent ground game (a league-worst 89 rush yards per game), but the team could be that much more dangerous if Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs get going. New York ran for a season-high 172 yards against Atlanta on wild card weekend, but has just 180 yards rushing since.
They could turn things around against this inconsistent New England rush D. The Patriots gave up 144 yards to the Broncos in the divisional round with Denver playing catchup for most of the game, but then they tightened up a week later against the Ravens (Ray Rice had just 78 yards).
Which Pats rush defense will show up in the Super Bowl? The Giants should commit to the run and find out.
2. Break down the Pats’ red-zone D
Despite giving up the second-most yards in the league, the Patriots allowed an average of just 21 points per game throughout the regular season. A lot of that is due to New England’s strong play in the red zone (tops in the AFC with six red-zone takeaways), and that stinginess has carried over into the postseason.
Heading into Super Bowl Sunday, opponents made seven trips inside the Patriots’ 20 and walked away with just two touchdowns. That translates to a 28 percent success rate for the Broncos and Ravens, but the Giants have a much better offense than both of those teams. New York has scored touchdowns on 41 percent of its red-zone possessions, but that number could be even higher without the team’s big play ability (the Giants scored four touchdowns of 27 yards or more, including two over 65 yards).
It’s imperative that the Giants offense leaves the red zone with seven points if they wants to keep pace with the high-flying Pats.
3. The big three has to come up big
New York will need Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham to be as involved in the offense as possible. The trio has come up big in the postseason, scoring seven touchdowns while averaging over 231 yards per game. You’ve got to like their chances of putting up similar numbers against a Patriots secondary that ranked last in the AFC.
Nicks was a force in the first two playoff games (280 yards, four touchdowns) before Cruz took center stage against the Niners (142 yards). In that NFC Championship game, New York’s big three finished with 214 yards while San Francisco completed just one pass to a receiver all game (for three yards).
The Giants will have their own issues stopping New England’s three-headed monster since Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have combined for 461 yards and five touchdowns during the playoffs, but the team that wins this receivers battle will probably be this year’s champion.