Tag:Super Bowl
Posted on: January 24, 2012 9:00 am
Edited on: January 24, 2012 11:51 am

Giants-Patriots is a SB XLII rematch in name only

The uniforms are the same but these two teams most definitely are not. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

The more things change, the more things … change. The uniforms may be the same but four years later, the Giants and Patriots are different teams who, after 20 weeks, find themselves in a familiar position: about to face off in a Super Bowl. Four years ago, in the fortnight leading up to their first encounter in February 2008, the storylines were some variation of: "New England will absolutely obliterate New York."

Predictable, sure. But in much the same way gravity is predictable. Except that night the Giants had no use for immutable laws of nature. (Evidenced nicely by David Tyree's physics-defying grab that set up the winning touchdown.)

The Patriots' offensive firepower led by Brady and Randy Moss didn't matter. And neither did did the Spygate soap opera which served to galvanize the team earlier in the year and perpetuate the "us vs. them" mentality that gave guys like Rodney Harrison Tony Robbins-like purpose. (Harrison was known almost as much for his reliance on the "no respect for motivational purposes" shtick as he was for his tenacious, sometimes dirty style.)

This time will be different. Or least that's the thinking going in. The head coaches and quarterbacks are the same, but Eli Manning has matured and the Patriots' defense has regressed. The difference in talent between these two clubs that was once measured in miles is now better gauged in yards.

Put differently: it only seems like we've already seen this movie.

So before we take a look ahead, we thought it made sense to first take a look back.

The Rosters

The Giants head to Indianapolis with 16 players (nine starters) from the Super Bowl XLII-winning squad. The Patriots, meanwhile, have just seven players (five starters) remaining. You can view the 2007 rosters for both teams below; the players in red are still with their respective teams.

The takeaway from the list above: only one defensive player from Super Bowl XLII remains on the Patriots' roster. Harrison, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Richard Seymour, Asante Samuel -- all either retired or playing elsewhere -- and just Vince Wilfork, the team's 2004 first-round pick, is left. (Granted, Wilfork saved the best game of his career for last Sunday's AFC Championship matchup against the Ravens, which is timely.)

During the '07 regular season, the Patriots defense ranked 12th in league (fifth against the pass, 21st against the run), according to Football Outsiders. Four years later, and their travails have been well documented (30th overall, 28th pass, 28th run).

The one name that has remained constant: Tom Brady. He doesn't have Randy Moss but he doesn't need him. The offensive may not be as explosive without Moss but it's much more dynamic with Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

On the surface, the 2011 Giants don't seem much different from the 2007 version. They won nine games this season (with 30 percent of the personnel from the Super Bowl XL roster), nine in '07; ranked 12th in team efficiency this time around versus 16th four years ago. But the similarities end there because like Brady in New England, Eli Manning has everything to do with the Giants' recent success.

For almost the entire '07 season, Manning was one of the league's most inconsistent quarterbacks. He ranked 38th in total value among NFL QBs, sandwiched between the likes of Brian Griese and Chet Lemon. Now Manning's fifth behind Brees, Rodgers, Brady, Romo and Stafford. That, more than anything else New York has done this season, is the reason they're playing one more game.

In Super Bowl XLII, the Giants had no expectations. In Super Bowl XLVI there will be plenty. And the question goes from "Can this team avoid embarrassing itself in front of a worldwide audience?" to "Can they play up to their potential and win this thing?"

Pregame Hype: A Look Back

Given these two offenses -- one record-breaking, the other aimless for much of the season -- it wasn't surprising that the Giants were getting Washington Generals-type odds to win this game.

the Patriots opened as 13.5-point favorites, according to Las Vegas. Five weeks before, in Week 17, New England was favored by 13 to beat the Giants in New York. Instead, the Pats needed a fourth-quarter comeback to eke out the 38-35 victory. (Now: the line opened Sunday with New England favored by a more modest 3.5 points.)

Then: AccuScore ran 10,000 simulations of the Giants-Patriots matchup and gave New York a 25 percent chance of winning. Sounds high -- Manning could throw that middle-of-the-field-Hail Mary to Tyree 100 times and Tyree comes down with it once. Tyree, it turns out, has impeccable timing.

Then: Cold Hard Football Facts called it the "mismatch of the century," complete with subheadings breaking down each individual mismatch ("on offense," "at quarterback," etc…).

Football Outsiders was less definitive, writing that "Most likely, the Giants won't pull a shocking upset like the 2001 Patriots, and they won't get blown off the field like the 1985 Patriots. Instead, they'll end up like a third team from New England's Super Bowl past: the 1996 Patriots, a good team outclassed by a great team. … (The 2007) Patriots will probably dispatch the Giants in a similar fashion, completing their historic 19-0 season. Not definitely. Just probably."

Then: CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco was one of the few national voices to pick the Giants. You don't even have to look it up because we've done it for you:

"I like the +11.5," Prisco said. "I think the Giants -- not only will they cover the number, they may win the game. … I think the Giants could definitely win the football game."

Then: Princess the camel (yep, you read that right -- the terrestrial counterpart to Paul the Octopus) also picked the Giants to win.

"I can't explain it, but her predictions, more often than not, are right on the money," said John Bergmann, general manager of Popcorn Park Zoo where Princess has lived since 2004. "I'm hoping she's right this time because I'm a Giants fan."

Turned out, Princess had a thing for the Mannings more so than the Giants; she picked Peyton and the Colts to win the year before. (Then again, maybe she'd seen then-Bears quarterback Rex Grossman play.)

From the ridiculous to the sublime…

Then: Another national columnist driving the Giants' bandwagon: Dr. Z. He admitted that picking New York was an opportunity to right a past wrong, when he picked the Colts to beat the Jets in Super Bowl III even though he had a feeling New York, 19-point underdogs by kickoff, had a chance to pull the upset. Forty years later, Dr. Z wasn't going to make the same mistake. Here's what he wrote on January 22, 2008:

"And gradually it dawned on me, as I toured the (Giants) locker room (after their NFC Championship game win over the Packers), picking up a quote here and there -- there isn't a way to stop Brady and Welker and Moss and Faulk and Maroney ... the whole riotous bunch. A team just has to be tougher, more resilient, more able to sustain high-level pressure on both sides of the ball for a longer period. And I honestly feel that the Giants can do it. Just look at what this improbable team has done so far."

And that's exactly how it played out.

Now: We mentioned above that the Patriots' defense has just one player from the last Super Bowl team. But much like the Giants' offense during the 2007 season, New England's D has come on of late. But will it be enough?

From CBSSports.com's Clark Judge: No team went to a Super Bowl with a defense ranked lower than 25th. Now you have the league's 27th-ranked unit (the Giants) and its 31st-ranked defense (New England), but, just a hunch, defense makes the difference in Indianapolis. It did when these two met in Super Bowl XLII, with the Giants sacking Tom Brady five times and holding the league's highest-scoring offense to 14 points.

The NY Giants and Patriots will face off in the Super Bowl once again. NFL on CBS analyst Solomon Wilcots joins the Tim Brando Show to discuss how the rematch will play out.

There used to be a time when you were never certain if Good Eli or Bad Eli would show up from one week to the next, one quarter to the next, and sometimes, one play to the next. Manning has transformed into one of the league's most consistent quarterbacks and now he has a chance to double up his older brother on total Super Bowl rings.

From Prisco's most recent column on Eli's evolution: "it all starts with Manning. He's no longer another star's little brother hoping to become special. He's arrived, which is what's so different from 2007. 'You're right there,' head coach Tom Coughlin said in the locker room late Sunday night (after the win over the 49ers). 'It is Eli. He is special now. He's the biggest difference between the two teams.'

Now: And that leads us to this, from colleague Will Brinson who wrote Sunday about two ancillary storylines could morph into something much larger should the Giants win: Is Eli 1) better than his brother and 2) now in the same class as Brady? 

The Game: What Happened

Obviously, you know exactly what happened. And depending on your perspective, you'll either take great joy in reliving the Super Bowl XLII memories or, as Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Monday, choosing instead to forget it ever happened.

"I’ve never been able to watch it," he said (via ESPN.com), echoing remarks made by quarterback Tom Brady earlier in the day. "I do remember the end of the game, a ball going through our cornerback’s hands [Asante Samuel] that if he had caught that ball and it hadn’t gone through his hands, we would have been able to take a knee and we would have won the game.

"And, you know, that Eli [Manning] doing a great job escaping from that pile of guys that we had on him, and whether the whistle blows and the great catch and all these things. In the end, there are a lot of little things. That was a great game, that was a great team, and we’re looking forward to having the privilege of going to Indianapolis."

Michael Strahan: excited about Super Bowl XLII's outcome.

As for what will happen … well, we'll find out shortly. And if you can't wait, we know a camel...

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: January 22, 2012 11:50 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 11:30 am

Super Bowl XLVI Odds: Patriots favored by 3.5

Brady and the Pats are early 3.5-point favorites in Vegas. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The Super Bowl matchup is set -- we've got all the best storylines in Sorting the Sunday Pile -- and the Patriots and Giants will square off in a rematch of the epic 2007 Super Bowl.

Championship Weekend Recap

The odds won't be tilted quite as heavily towards the Patriots this time, though, as New England's been installed as "only" a three-point favorite according to Sportsbook.com. R.J. Bell of PreGame.com notes that the Patriots are a 3.5-point favorite.

When the two teams met in 2007, the Patriots closed as 12-point favorites in Vegas, but, of course, ultimately ended up losing straight-up.

Bell notes that the Vegas favorite has won 33 of 45 Super Bowls in NFL history, or 73 percent of the games played.

"Historically, the point-spread is an unmatched predictor of NFL games," Bell notes.

Currently, the over/under for the Super Bowl is a whopping 55.5 points according to Sportsbook, which means Vegas expects to see plenty of scoring from the two teams. That's no surprise given the Eli Manning-Tom Brady matchup and the pair of explosive offenses featured by the two teams.

Speaking of big numbers, Bell projects that over $10 billion -- yes, with a "b" -- will be wagered on this year's Super Bowl.

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Posted on: October 11, 2011 1:21 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 9:00 pm

Arizona will host Super Bowl XLIX

It came down to Tampa and Arizona. (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The NFL owners were in Houston, Texas Tuesday for their fall meetings, and the biggest item on the agenda was to decide which city -- Tampa or Glendale, Arizona -- would host the 2015 Super Bowl. After a morning of presentations, the owners voted, and Super Bowl XLIX has been awarded to Arizona. The game will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium.

According to the Tampa Tribune, "Each site was allotted 15 minutes to argue its case in front of the league’s 32 owners. Following the presentations Buccaneers co-chairman Bryan Glazer and Arizona Cardinals president Michael Bidwill addressed the owners from the podium, stressing the quality of their region’s bid."

Prior to the announcement, the Arizona Republic speculated that the Valley of the Sun would beat out the Sunshine State. 

"Tampa hosted the game more recently than Arizona by a year," The Republic's Rebekah Sanders wrote Tuesday morning. ... "NFL owners may want to return to the West since Super Bowls over the next three years will take place in Indianapolis, New Orleans and East Rutherford, N.J. Both Tampa and the Valley offer warm weather, but Tampa's stadium, eight years older than University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, does not have a retractable roof in case of rain."

Arizona last hosted a Super Bowl in 2008; the Tampa area, meanwhile, has played host to the Super Bowl in 1984, 1991, 2001 and 2009.

The decision to go with Glendale over Tampa wasn't clear cut, however. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy tweeted Tuesday just before the announcement that "Neither AZ or Tampa received 3/4th of the votes. Second ballot time. Need 17 (simple majority) to win. The drama builds…"

In 2016, one of the biggest sports spectacles on the planet will celebrate its 50th anniversary, and the game will likely to be awarded to Los Angeles, site of Super Bowl I. Other cities in the running for the 2016 Super Bowl include Miami, San Francisco as well as several Northeast hopefuls.

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 11:04 am

Madonna to perform at Super Bowl halftime show?

Posted by Will Brinson

Here's a spicy little football nugget for your Monday: Madonna will reportedly perform at halftime of Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium.

That's according to our friend Andrew Sharp at SBNation, who dropped the bombshell about the material girl this morning. Perhaps more surprising than the fact that Madonna is performing is the fact that Madonna hasn't performed at the Super Bowl before.

Then again, there's been a move away from "risky" halftime acts ever since the, ahem, incident with Janet Jackson in 2004. For the past few years, in fact, the acts for halftime of the Super Bowl tended to lean more towards classic rock-type acts, like the Rolling Stones, The Who, Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, and Prince.

Last year, the Black Eyed Peas performed, but failed to bridge the gap between "corporate sponsors" and "younger people who watch the game" with a performance that was primarily panned.

Madonna, who's filed down her edginess since her days of causing parents to cringe at cassette purchases, might have a pretty good shot at doing that, given her widespread popularity and appeal to multiple generations of Super Bowl viewers. (Although, honestly, that wouldn't have been who I expected Jim Irsay to pick, given the nature of his tweets.)

The NFL declined to comment on Sharp's story, so there's no official confirmation yet, so for now we'll just remain ... borderline excited.

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Posted on: June 6, 2011 2:27 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2011 2:40 pm

NFL contingency plans include 8-game season

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Last week, for the first time, we saw real progress in this NFL labor mess. There's still a long way to go but it's something. With the possibility of losing games -- or worse, canceling the season -- we'll take it.

A lot can happen between now and an eventual resolution, which means the league needs contingency plans. According to SportsBusiness Journal's Daniel Kaplan, that includes planning for a shortened NFL season, even one that includes as few as eight games.

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes that "An eight-game season would begin in late November, with a whopping five weeks allowed for free agency, training camps, and maybe a single preseason game. This would require a deal to be reached in October."

One of the concerns about players and owners finding common ground and ending the lockout is that the timing could throw free agency and training camp schedules out of whack. Five weeks isn't much time to cram it all in, but this sounds like an End of Days, worst-case scenario where the only other alternative is forget about the 2011 season altogether and start over in 2012.

As Florio points out, the 1982 strike-shortened season was nine games and 16 of the then-28 teams made the playoffs. That it has happened before is hardly a reason for the two sides to drag their feet on getting a deal done tout suite.

For fun, we took a look back to Week 9 of the previous five NFL seasons. Not every team had played eight games up to that point, but it serves as a proxy for our purposes here. Namely: to see how many teams were atop the standings at the midway point of the season and ended up in the playoffs. Because one argument against the shortened season (other than it takes away from the entirety of the NFL experience that stretches from September to February) is that teams can get on a two-month hot streak and win a Super Bowl. It's the cousin to Billy Beane's theory for why the Moneyball approach to winning baseball games goes out the window in the posteason.

Anyway, to the time machine:

2006, Week 9 ('*' means team made playoffs)

7-0: Bears*, Colts*
6-1: Patriots*
5-2: Giants*, Chargers*, Broncos, Falcons, Ravens*, Saints*
4-3: Bengals, Cowboys*, Jaguars, Seahawks*, Chiefs*

Colts defeated Bears in Super Bowl

2007, Week 9

8-0: Patriots*
7-0: Colts*
6-1: Cowboys*, Packers*
6-2: Giants*
5-2: Steelers*, Jaguars*, Titans*, Lions
4-3: Chargers*, Chiefs, Seahawks*, Browns, Ravens, Redskins*, Panthers

Giants defeated Patriots in Super Bowl

2008, Week 9
7-0: Titans*
6-1: Giants*
6-2: Panthers*, Redskins
5-2: Steelers*, Bills, Patriots
5-3: Cowboys, Bucs
4-3: Eagles*, Packers, Bears, Cards*, Ravens, Broncos, Falcons*, Jets

Steelers defeated Cards in Super Bowl

2009, Week 9
7-0: Saints*, Colts*
7-1: Vikings*
6-1: Broncos
5-2: Patriots*, Bengals*, Steelers, Cowboys*, Eagles*
5-3: Texans, Giants
4-3: Ravens*, Falcons, Packers*, Cards*, Chargers*, Bears,

Saints defeated Colts in Super Bowl

2010, Week 9
6-1: Patriots*
5-2: Ravens*, Steelers*, Jets*, Colts*, Falcons*, Giants, Chiefs*, Bucs
5-3: Packers*, Titans, Saints*
4-3: Eagles*, Texans, Dolphins, Bears*, Seahawks*

Packers defeated Steelers in Super Bowl

The takeaway? For the most part, clubs playing well midway through the season usually end up in the playoffs. Specifically, since 2006, 62 percent of teams above .500 through Week 9 qualified for the postseason, and that includes every Super Bowl participant over that period.

So while nobody wants an eight-game NFL season, recent history suggests it won't have much of an impact on the eventual champion. But that's no reason to drag things out. The sooner the lockout ends, the better for everybody.

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Posted on: May 27, 2011 6:15 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2011 6:26 pm

Packers to receive Super Bowl rings June 16

Posted by Ryan Wilson

NFL season or not, the Green Bay Packers will receive their Super Bowl rings on June 16. Since we're in the middle of a lockout, players can't have contact with coaches or management, and that explains all the informal workouts. But the league is making an exception for the Packers (not even Jerry Jones could manage that), who will convene at the Lambeau Field Atrium for a ceremony not open to the public.

“We’re looking forward to having an evening for the players, coaches and organization to recognize the victory in Super Bowl XLV,” Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy said.

“It was an extraordinary season and the players earned their rings in very exciting fashion. We’re going to celebrate all the hard work that went into the championship. We’re excited for the evening.”

This could make for an interesting night. Summertime Super Bowl celebrations aside, it will be the rare opportunity for coaches to actually talk to players. There had been accusations of improper contact across the league between coaches and players, but an NFL investigation turned up no evidence of wrongdoing.

(Although, let's be honest: Did anyone think that the two sides weren't going to talk? For the most part, they're fighting the same battle. Yes, the money is nice, but coaches don't go into the profession to get rich. They do it because they love coaching. And right now they can't do what they love. They're antsy.)

So while June 16 will make for a nice reunion -- and perhaps an impromptu team meeting -- it sounds like it will only be attended by members of the 2010 team. Which means no chance to chat up those rookies who are most in need of coaching. If that's the case, it further supports what CBSSports.com's Clark Judge wrote last week: As the lockout drags on, the likelihood increases that first-year phenoms won't be a storyline in 2011.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: April 17, 2011 2:39 pm

Big Ben's bathroom reminder: Super Bowl nameplate

Posted by Will Brinson

The Super Bowl loss to the Green Bay Packers did not go over well with Ben Roethlisberger, as you might expect. In fact, I remember standing with Gregg Doyel, who would later write this piece about how much it hurt Ben, watching a suddenly beardless Ben get dressed while being carefully guarded from speaking with the media. (Yes, that sentence sounds ended up worse than I thought it would.)

As further proof of how much the loss hurt him, though, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette offers up this proof: Ben's got his Super Bowl nameplate positioned in a prominent spot in his bathroom.

"The day I got back, I took my nameplate from my locker -- 'Ben Roethlisberger, Super Bowl XLV' -- and it's sitting underneath my mirror in my bathroom," Roethlisberger said. "I want to see that every day. It hurts a lot."

Losing a Super Bowl was a new experience for Roethlisberger, who'd won his first two starts in the big one, and it's clearly not something he's going to quickly forget.

"The first loser, and that kills me," Ben said. "Until I can get back to that point, I want to remember the pain, and it's going to burn in me until we can get back and win one. If it never happens, I'll be killed, but I'm going to do my best to get back there."

Roethlisberger also added that he "wants to get one more than anybody else" -- winning last year's Super Bowl against the Packers would have put him in a pretty good position to eclipse the current high of four (Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana are the only quarterbacks with that many each).

Now Ben needs three titles to top Bradshaw and Montana, which is still an absolute possibility, but not something anyone would expect at this point.

Then again, Roethlisberger's also now firmly aware of the devastating pain that comes with actually losing one, and that could end up providing more motivation than any bathroom mirror ever could.

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Posted on: February 15, 2011 1:39 pm

NFL offers third option to victims of 'SeatGate'

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL is upping the ante for the 400 folks that missed the Super Bowl -- they're now offering to get $5,000 or more in the pockets of those who were shorted.

According to a displaced fan named Brad Powell the NFL has offered to pay back the full total of each fan's "actual substantiated expenses" or $5,000, whichever is greater.

Here's the actual legalese from the NFL, per Powell:
III) The greater of $5,000 or your actual substantiated expenses in defined categories for attending Super Bowl XLV
Powell says he "didn't see the [category] list" but it seems safe to say it will include airfare, room and board, hotel costs, etc.

Clearly if a fan bought a new Ferrari while on vacation with the purported purpose of driving it around Dallas, the NFL isn't going to pay them back. And that's why there have to be specifically designated categories -- otherwise, people would just get loose on the league when it comes to what they expense.

Offering this much in terms of reimbursement -- the NFL had offered either I) $2,400 and a ticket to next year's game or II) a future ticket to a Super Bowl plus hotel and airfare -- should mean that "the 400" are now satisfied, at least in terms of compensation. (Of course, that might not mean much for the rest of the fans suing the NFL, though you could argue that getting rid of the first 400 from the lawsuit gives it a lot less weight.)

The NFL obviously can't give them the experience of seeing the Steelers and Packers play, but give them credit for trying to make sure that fans don't come away too bitter from the experience.

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