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
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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.

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Since: Jan 23, 2012
Posted on: January 23, 2012 7:33 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

Interesting... I would simply like to remind you that Tom Brady plays the Buffalo Bills 2x a year.  You know, the great defense they have.  As far as the Brady discussion goes, everyone needs to stop with the comments that read, "He is the greatest qb ever."  It is not possible to be the greatest qb ever, while only ever having 1 season that made him the "best qb that YEAR."  I'm talking about his record setting (thanks to the new rules) of a single season TD passes.  Manning has just about always out played him.  This year, both Brees and Rodgers out played him.  If he wasn't the pretty boy of the media, then he would not get the praise he does.  He is one of the biggest babies in the NFL.  Watch him whine to the officials after every play that goes against them.  Even his old safety, told him to remove his skirt.  I always like to wonder how "great" this quarterback would be, if the rules didn't change for him. One more note before I jump to the superbow game.  Brady goes down with an injury, the Patriots continue on winning 11 games.  Peyton goes down, and the colts have the number 1 pick in the draft.  If that doesn't help his cause, I'm not sure what does. 

In terms of this superbowl, the Giants were as deserving as any team.  They win when they must.  The patriots have beaten 1 team all season long, that has a winning record.  Anyone could make a strong argument, that even in this game, the patriots didn't "win," as much as, the Ravens lost it.  (Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff (spelling) anyone?)  Eli Manning has a real chance to prove himself (yet again) to the football community.  If he can win this game, it will be hard to argue he doesn't belong in the top 5 (possibly even ahead of Brady?)  

Since: Sep 21, 2011
Posted on: January 23, 2012 7:30 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Aug 20, 2007
Posted on: January 23, 2012 4:59 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

They lost twice to the Redskins who we beat.  The tough NFC East.  The Cowboys are a juggernaut also.  We don't need to speak about the Eagles... come to think of it, why not, we house them too.  So what now bunky?

But, the Giants have won 2 of the last 3 over the Patriots - thats really the only stat that matters, "bunky".

Since: Mar 24, 2008
Posted on: January 23, 2012 4:39 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

longtime Giants fan here, but I respect the Patriots, hell, I always respect the opponent.  Hope it's a nice close game, down to the wire, not one of those Super Bowl blowouts we have to suffer through from time to time.  Here's to a game that's better than the commercials!

Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: January 23, 2012 4:24 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

They lost twice to the Redskins who we beat.  The tough NFC East.  The Cowboys are a juggernaut also.  We don't need to speak about the Eagles... come to think of it, why not, we house them too.  So what now bunky?

Since: Jul 3, 2007
Posted on: January 23, 2012 4:23 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

@silky smooth...NFC East a division with real talent? Haha, not the AFC East is great, but a slate against this years versions of Dallas, Washington and Philly was pretty the top of my head, NFC and AFC North and NFC and AFC South would have been tougher

Since: Jul 3, 2007
Posted on: January 23, 2012 4:18 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

The one thing to remember in this game is that the Giants won the dress rehearsal back in October. That said, they will not win the whole shebang in Indy. You may beat Bill Belichick once, but he won't let you get another one off of you. Best believe he's been watching the tape since the week after that loss, and that he's already inside the Giants head. Plus, we all know that the Giants are a team that ebbs and flows, and are at their best when they put themselves in a wild card position around week 15 or 16 before going on a tear. The week off might cool them down, and I know that didn't happen THE LAST TIME, one of the greatest games of all time which everyone harps on when discussing this rematch. But that really doesn't mean it won't happen this time. The bottom line here is, when Bill Belichick gets his full week (or two) to not take an opponent for granted and think about his match-ups on offense, he cannot be beat. Sorry, I hate both of these teams, but I will always respect the abilities of the Patriots more than those of any other team in this league

Since: Dec 19, 2007
Posted on: January 23, 2012 4:11 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

Q: What happens when the Patriots don't face a GOOD defense.
A: They run up the score and average 35 points per game.
Q: What happens when the Patriots face a GOOD defense.(PIT, NYG, BAL)
A: They barely average 20 points per game.

PS: Ravens were the first team with a winning record that the PATS beat this year.

Since: Dec 19, 2007
Posted on: January 23, 2012 4:08 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

How many points have the Giants given up during this 5 game winning streak???

67 points = 13 points per game against the Jets, Cowboys, Falcons, Packers and 49ers

Everything else before that is a BLURRRRRRRRRR

Giants are HOT and HEALTHY now!

They're a different team from the one that was 7-7.

Since: Dec 6, 2010
Posted on: January 23, 2012 3:53 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

I don't think this is going to be the walk in the park for the Patriots you and others expect.  Neither team can defend.  The Giants seem to stop people when they need to.  The Patriots allowing 342 points in the weak AFC East is a bit skued.  Playing Miami, Buffalo and the Jets twice does wonders for your offensive and defensive numbers.  The Giants on the other hand actually were in a real NFL Division with real offensive and defensive talent.  There are only a few guys that can stand in there an "trade" with Brady.  Peyton, Brees, Rodgers and Eli...everyone else is in way deep water.  Weather, hype, injuries, desire, grit will have no bearing on the outcome.  Its Belichek vs. Coughlan and the Patriots head master definitely has the superior gray matter.  If the tough Irishman can figure out how to stop Gronkowski and Hernandez with the atheletes he has it is 2008 all over again.  But if those 2 TE's are unchecked and unchipped its going to be bad real bad for the Giants and their faithful.  They won one in 2008 they weren't supposed to, now the talent is a little more evenly matched except for the TE position.  This is what coaches get paid for and this will be the difference in the game.

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