New England is expected to beat the Giants by three points, despite weaknesses in their offense.
It's not overstating things to say that the respective legacies of a certain coach and a certain player will be indelibly inscribed after Sunday's Super Bowl between the Giants and Patriots. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are already bound for the Hall of Fame, so win or lose, their place in NFL history is assured. The same cannot be said of Giants' quarterback Eli Manning or his head coach, Tom Coughlin. Right now they have a prominent line on their Hall of Fame resumes: upset previously undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. But is that enough to get them into Canton? Doubtful. And if they lose this game, it can't help but take a little shine off that stunning victory four years ago. But two Super Bowl wins over the era's best franchise? Well, then the discussion becomes a little more balanced. So what will it take for Manning and Coughlin to win another ring over their northeast neighbors? Here are a few things you need to know before you sit down for the big game.
The Patriots' high-powered offense will not be operating at 100 percent
During the regular season and throughout these playoffs, New England tight end Rob Gronkowski has been a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, with his rare combination of size, speed, and catching ability. His 17 regular-season touchdowns were a record for a tight end, and his play in the postseason has been right on par, as he scored three touchdowns in the Patriots' divisional round drubbing of the Broncos. But in the AFC title game Gronkowski suffered a high ankle sprain, and he is not expected to be at 100 percent for the Super Bowl. Yes, the Patriots have another tight end, Aaron Hernandez, who is perhaps even more versatile than Gronkowski. But in a game that could be high-scoring, there's no ignoring the fact that New England's top touchdown-maker was wearing a walking boot earlier this week and that he refused to say whether he's definitely playing.