Blog Entry

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

Posted on: January 22, 2012 11:18 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 2:00 pm
Posted by Will Brinson

Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action, figures out the winners and losers and asks the big questions. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Listen to the Championship Weekend Podcast Recap below and don't forget to
subscribe via iTunes

Super Bowl Storylines

We have less than two weeks until Super Bowl XLVI is played in Indianapolis, and you need to be prepared for a slew of recurring storylines that will come forth over the next 14 days. Some are good, some are bad. Here are the biggest ones:

1. Playing in Peyton's House
No. 2 on this list will be the most talked about early on, but the biggest story of this Super Bowl is that this matchup takes place in the House of Peyton Manning. Peyton carved out a legacy as a sure-fire Hall of Fame quarterback in Indianapolis, and now the Colts quarterback is sidelined, unsure of his future in Indy, as he watches his most hated rival (Brady) battle his little brother (Eli) for a Super Bowl victory in the Colts stadium.

There's no telling how much face time Peyton will have to put in for the Colts over the next two weeks, and it could very well be minimal, but he's the city's most famous athlete (by a WIDE margin) and it's hard to imagine that he can just go underground while two guys whose lives are so closely parallel to his own prepare to do battle on his field.

2. 2007, All Over Again
Not sure if you heard or not, but the Giants beat the previously undefeated Patriots in the 2007 Super Bowl. It was a pretty good game. A lot of the people who will play in this year's game played in that game. (The Patriots are so bitter about 2007 that they were likely rooting for the Giants against the 49ers, just to get revenge.)

This will be the predominant storyline, whether you like it or not, over the next two weeks.

3. Tom Brady's Legacy
Brady is one of four quarterbacks with three Super Bowl wins. Another one moves him out of a tie with Troy Aikman (three each) and into a tie with Terry Bradshaw and his boyhood hero Joe Montana as quarterbacks with four Super Bowl wins.

There will be a discussion as to whether Brady warrants mentioning as the greatest quarterback of all-time if he wins a fourth Super Bowl. There will be plenty of chatter about how he matches up with Montana. And there will also be a discussion about what a second Super Bowl loss would mean to Brady: he could conceivably move to 3-2 in NFL championship games. That's not "bad" by any stretch of the imagination, but it's also not 4-1.

4. Is Eli Better Than Peyton?
We mentioned Peyton Manning already, but this is one that's going to get a lot of discussion: Manning's clearly established himself as a top-five NFL quarterback this season and he's putting together a ridiculous playoff résumé that is forging his overall legacy as an NFL quarterback.

In terms of raw statistical production, it's not even a contest right now, as Peyton's career numbers crush Eli's career numbers. Really, it's no contest. But Eli's also five years younger and has a shot at picking up his second Super Bowl, something Peyton doesn't have. Siblings can certainly be happy for one another when it comes to their respective success, but it's also going to be rough for both Peyton and Eli to find out how many times "Is Eli better than Peyton?" can be asked in a two-week span.

5. Brady and Eli in the Same Class
And our final quarterback comparison that will go down over the next fortnight: Brady and Eli. They'll go head-to-head for the second time in a Super Bowl over the past five years and this one has special meaning, and not just because Eli beat Brady the last time around. It's also because Eli said prior to the 2011 season that he belonged in the "same class" as Brady.

That's what any competitor should say, but Manning's spent all season long proving that he does belong on the same stage as Brady. A second Super Bowl win -- both over Tom Terrific -- would give Eli the last laugh if anyone asks him the same question before the 2012 season.

6. Bill Belichick's Best Coaching Job?
There's already a good argument that the 2011 Patriots are Bill Belichick's best coaching job in his career. That's a reasonable argument considering the Pats locked down the top seed in the AFC and made it to the Super Bowl despite continually starting Julian Edelman in their secondary.

Leading up to the Super Bowl, lots of people will point out that because of the defensive deficiencies and a number of other issues that a win cements this New England team as Belichick's finest work. They might very well be right.

7. Chad Ochocinco
The always-controversial wideout's been quiet this year and he was inactive for Sunday's AFC Championship Game after leaving the team to attend the funeral of his father. And though Chad fell in line with "The Patriot Way" this year, he's still an erstwhile celebrity, and he'll command some serious media attention over the next two weeks. Will he play? Will he make an impact? Can he play? Should he play? And so on and so forth.

8. Giants Defense
There's several different layers to New York's Big D. First of all, they're using the same formula as 2007, with a relentless pass rush. Secondly, you have to pressure Brady to stop him. Third, they run their mouths at an incredible (and awesome, if you're in the media) pace, and there's a decent chance we get a guarantee from someone (ahem, Jason Pierre-Paul and/or Antrel Rolle).

They'll be the difference-maker in this Super Bowl, because stopping Brady typically means stopping the Patriots, if you can provide enough offense to put some distance between the two.


Sterling Moore: With the Patriots already starting wideout Julian Edelman, Moore was signed off the street in September after being cut from the Raiders pratice squad. In the biggest moment of his life, he made the biggest plays, knocking the ball out of Lee Evans hands to spoil a Baltimore touchdown and then swatting a ball away from Dennis Pitta on third down to force a game-tying field goal attempt from Baltimore.

Eli Manning:
Manning became the first quarterback in NFL history to win five road playoff games on Sunday night. That's not just impressive, it's amazing: road wins aren't easy to pull off in the regular season but coming from behind and making clutch plays and winning in impossible/unlikely situations is just becoming Manning's modus operandi at this point.

Joe Flacco
: It never seemed realistic that Flacco could "win" if the Ravens lost, but he managed to silence his critics in the loss on Sunday night. There were things he could've done better, for sure, and he missed a pair of deep balls to Torrey Smith that might have given the Ravens a win. But he also put the Ravens in position to -- at worst -- send the game to overtime. Others screwed the pooch, not Flacco.

Giants Defense: Who do you want to give the award to on this side of the ball? Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka all registered at least half a sack against Alex Smith and that's precisely the reason why it's believable for the Giants to take down the Patriots in the Super Bowl one more time.

Alex Smith: Yeah, yeah, he lost. But it doesn't matter, because Smith played in horrible conditions against an insane pass rush on the biggest stage, and he played well. Sure, he didn't complete 32 passes like Eli. In fact, he only attempted 26. And only 12 of those were completions. But the dude made some plays with his legs (six rushes, 42 yards), and two of his passes were beautiful shots to Vernon Davis for scores, and Smith kept the 49ers in this game until the end.

Oh, Billy. Billy, Billy, Billy. (Getty Images)


Billy Cundiff: Can I just type "Ray Finkle" 50 times and call it a day? Cundiff's lack of range -- he was one of six from 50-plus yards in the 2011 regular season -- forced the Ravens hand on offense and then Cundiff shanked a potential game-tying field goal with mere seconds left.

Kyle Williams: It's not Williams fault that Ted Ginn missed a game that featured a ton of rain. But that doesn't mean he can go out there and muff a pair of punts to give the Giants the ball on the 49ers side of the field. Williams set the Giants up for a touchdown in regulation and a game-winning field goal in overtime.

Lee Evans: As noted above, Evans had a ball knocked out from his hands that would've been a touchdown. But it's pretty clear that he got lazy on the play -- hold onto the ball and the Ravens probably play in the Super Bowl. I'm sure his four passes caught in the regular season makes up for it though.

Ed Hochuli's Review Explanations: Four score and seven years ago, Hochuli faced the camera and began explaining why something happened in football. It took him -- literally -- a minute to explain the new playoff overtime rules, and he might've actually used 100 words to explain a false start at one point. Go back to being a gunshow.

Twitter: Aren't you guys rich enough to buy a server that doesn't crash during big NFL games?


Man, Vince Wilfork is steamed.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.

Since: Jan 23, 2012
Posted on: January 24, 2012 12:25 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

I am a younger fan.  I honestly don't remember a whole lot of Dan Marino.  I have seen many "highlight videos" and have heard many stories.  I was only bringing up Marino with the "ring argument."  I never said anything about cheating, misbehaving, or any "pathetic excuse."  I even gave Brady props.  I said he is a good quarterback.  Earlier this year, not that you would be aware of this, said he was a top 5 qb.  I'd rate him behind Brees and Rodgers this year.  Dating back to earlier in their careers, Manning was and always has been ahead of him as well.  I understand how I can appear as a disgruntled Miami fan.  I can't wait till Miami gets back to their winning tradition.  

I believe Manning is a system.  I don't believe anyone can just step into the colts qb position and blossom.  (Look at this season).  I do believe that the Patriots system is exactly that, a system.  Matt Cassel steps into the qb position when Brady goes down, and puts up dang good numbers, winning 11 games. (I want to say first 11-5 team to not make post season, but don't quote me on that).  Brady is good, and you cannot argue with me, that he doesn't receive "pretty boy help."  Tuck Rule, Brady tackle rule, look at Brady wrong flags come flying out, etc. etc. etc.  He DOES receive special treatment.   

Since: Jan 8, 2007
Posted on: January 24, 2012 10:35 am

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

Wait, GoFins, are you really saying that Marino arrived at those numbers without ever running up the score?  Because, as a long time (45 years) Pats fan, I remember some really painful Pats-Fins games.  So I understand the pain, but I don't understand the need to rant rave and cry like a 6 year old girl.

That, by the way, is my issue with the brady-haters.  I get that your team sux right now because I was there when we Pats fans were glad to get three wins in a season.  And there was a LOT of that.  So if you're going thru that now, regard it as character building and stop looking for excuses that they other guys are cheating, misbehaving, overrated or any other of the pathetic excuses you guys put forth. 

Since: Jan 23, 2012
Posted on: January 24, 2012 10:11 am

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

"whats your point exactly?  We are 15 and 3 and going to the superbowl for the 5th time in 11 years you got something to say to that?  Nothing to do with stats there flyboy we just win.  Check the stats for winning percentages all time, regular season and playoffs.  I'll save you time Brady has won 84% of his games, has three rings.  Chew on that" (showtim)

 I love the "ring" theory.  A qb with rings, must be better than those without, or in this case, the one with the most rings is the better player.  Why do I love that theory? Dan Marino has 0 superbowl victories.  Trent Dilfer has 1 superbowl victory.  According to that theory, Dilfer is a better qb than Marino.  If you honestly believe that, then I won't even bother responding.  Am I angry that NE usually splits with Miami, and almost lost to the Dolphins this year?  I don't hide my bias, I dislike New England, and the flags that come that way.  But I also have given them credit when they deserve it.  15-3 record, wow... 14 wins against teams without a winning record! What an accomplishment! (sarcasm in case you missed it).  Brady is a solid qb, who is a checkdown/short thrower machine.  He relies on his receivers and tight ends, to make the plays.  He also has a coach, who lets him get his records, by runnning up the score on each and every team they can.  Brady is also the pretty boy of the NFL, and he can barely be touched without flags and fines. (check out flag and fine of washington's lineback from early this year when Brady slid late)  If I were a coach, and I could have either qb in their prime, I take Peyton Manning over Brady every time.  He is the better all around qb.  Brady is good, but he is not the best ever.  He is not better than Manning.  

Since: Sep 12, 2006
Posted on: January 24, 2012 9:04 am

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

It doesn't matter what happened all season long, what happens on SB Sunday is all that matters. I'm not worried about TB12 at all......facts show he will play far better in his next outing.
Neither team is without flaws and if one could read minds, Brady has to want this one more, though it more than likely will come down on how the Pats D plays the game. I'm sure TB12 will do his part.
The Giants will do what they always do, there's nothing tricky about what NY does on either side of the ball.
As for NE, whole different story, BB is a gameplanner, what wrinkle will he throw in, will be interesting to see.
As for a rematch, this is not rematch, one team would have to be undefeated and the rosters would have to be the same. Pats only have like 7 guys from that 07 team If I remember. Giants have far more.

Whole different game & whole different teams, outside of the logos, nothing the same about this game.
This game will be more about the x's & o's, not the jimmy's & joe's.

I feel Vegas should be favoring the Giants, but I guess they feel differently.

Since: Sep 12, 2006
Posted on: January 24, 2012 8:52 am

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

It's really as simple as this, whoever scores the most points will win.Surprised

Since: Nov 1, 2006
Posted on: January 24, 2012 8:17 am

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

I think you may need to chill Munich...  There really is no point in bringing up who lost to who?  Yes, Giants lost to the skins twice...big deal.  Did ya want to bring up Buffalo?  Does it mean much?  Nope.  The term Giants offense is unstoppable just simple means it is good and no one wants to play them.  Same as when someone has to play the Pats.  Yes, it's unstoppable too.  Feel better now...geez.  lol. 

Also, don't be as cocky as Brady it's what bit ya in the butt last time and will again.  Brady HAS played two crappy games in a row and who cares?!  Was there a point?  It happens.  But, they fight during each performance and that's what sets them apart.  Just like this past weekend when terrific Tom wasn't spectacular, right?  The elite QB's will always have a shot at the end and that's what ELITE!

Let's be honest.  As hot as the Giants are you didn't want to see them...  no one did.  Just ask Green Bay!    

Since: May 22, 2007
Posted on: January 24, 2012 6:36 am

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

It's always nice to hear about a story where some guy comes out of nowhere to be a star...that would be Sterling Moore. He was obviously beaten by Ravens Lee Evans and Joe Flacco's pass was right on target. Moore didn't flinch and just slapped at the ball, and the Patriots were the victors after Billy Cundiff missed a 32 yard FG...great stuff.

Alex Smith was a big winner in the game against the Giants...but I wonder why the 49ers didn't run the ball more. It looked like Frank Gore was getting good yardage, but I don't think they ran him enough...Gore was 16 for 74. Good yardage, but not enough carries. Of course, Kyle Williams was the big loser...tell me something I don't know.

Eli Manning was an obvious winner...not just the five road playoff games, but his poise and pocket presence was amazing. Of course, he has three great targets to throw to...Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. The Patriots will have their hands full with those three. 

Since: Dec 12, 2010
Posted on: January 24, 2012 5:06 am

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

NNYG - Sounding a little over-confident there. "Just can't stop you?" Really? Got it - round 1 went to you, 2007 SB went to you - but please don't say that the G-Men Offense is unstoppable. That's the same offense that couldn't beat the Skins - TWICE, right? Nor the Hawks at home? Come on now, you're playing well as we speak, understood, but your consistency as a top-tier team throughout the year is hardly noteworthy. You showed up for some games, and you shanked some games - just like everyone else. The G-Men have clearly proven that they have the ability to show up in Indy and play like they did in some of those 6 losses you had.

And just curious - How often have YOU seen Brady play two crappy games in a row? Exactly. You might consider shelving that "unstoppable" comment... 

Since: Sep 21, 2011
Posted on: January 24, 2012 1:38 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Nov 30, 2010
Posted on: January 24, 2012 1:18 am

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines


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