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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey  
Super Bowl XLVI

Prediction: NYG 27, NE 24

Line: NE by 3.5. OU = 55

You could argue that if any one team had the best chance to beat the Patriots, it would be the Giants. After all, the last loss that the Patriots had was back in week nine when the Giants were visitors and shocked them 24-20. The previous time that these two teams played was in the 2008 Super Bowl when the G-Men won 17-14. In both those games the Patriots were favored (by 9 and 12.5 respectively). Both games were unders (51 and 54.5) and in each the Giants mounted a late comeback to win in the final 35 seconds or less. This game has the history to say it should be a close, exciting game though shorter on points than what most expect. Even if the fact they lost late to the Giants twice before does not bother the Pats, it should certainly give the Giants confidence even if they fall behind.

New York Giants
Homefield: Meadowlands Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @WAS 14-28 10 @SF 20-27
2 STL 28-16 11 PHI 10-17
3 @PHI 29-16 12 @NO 24-49
4 @ARI 31-27 13 GB 35-38
5 SEA 25-36 14 @DAL 37-34
6 BUF 27-24 15 WAS 10-23
7 Bye - 16 @NYJ 29-14
8 MIA 20-17 17 DAL 31-14
9 @NE 24-20 18 ATL 24-2
19 @GB 37-20 20 @SF 20-17
Giants Report | Statistics | Roster
NY GIANTS Rush Catch Pass
QB Eli Manning - - 290,2
RB Brandon Jacobs 30,1 20 -
RB Ahmad Bradshaw 60 20 -
TE Jake Ballard - 60 -
WR Victor Cruz - 80 -
WR Hakeem Nicks - 70,1 -
WR Mario Manningham - 30,1 -
PK Lawrence Tynes 2 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: Each season it seems one team comes from virtually the back of the pack to reach the Super Bowl and that certainly describes the Giants who did not even know they were in the playoffs until the beat the Cowboys in week 17. The Giants defense has been a problem most of the year but when it counted the most, they have been outstanding. Road games in Green Bay and San Francisco held opponents to no more than 20 points.

QUARTERBACK: Eli Manning has enjoyed a great season with ten 300+ yard passing efforts and yet one of his lowest passing efforts came in New England. He only threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns with one interception but no sacks. Both touchdowns came in the final three minutes and went along with 85 passing yards. Until the final three minutes, Manning had only passed for 165 yards and one interception. Both drives had pass interferences called on the defense for either 20 or 35 yards. It was a game that was all about the final three minutes.

The Patriots may be used to playing in a Super Bowl but most of their defensive secondary has not. It is important to note that their much maligned secondary has not often faced a decent passing team. At home besides Manning was Tony Romo (317, TD) and Philip Rivers (378, 2 TD). On the road they faced a litany of mediocrity - BUF, DEN, MIA, NYJ, OAK (with Jason Campbell), PHI (with Vince Young), WAS and PIT. And yet Chad Henne and Vince Young both posted 400+ passing yards on them. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 365 yards and two scores.

This is a road game for each team and forget about any advantage the Pats may have from experience - they lost their past Super Bowl to these Giants and the secondary away from home will be under even more pressure.

RUNNING BACKS: Ahmad Bradshaw is still receiving daily treatment on the foot he injured in Week 8, but he'll play through the pain. He was out in week nine against the Patriots and has been only good for around 60 yards per game since midseason. Brandon Jacobs turned in one of his best games of the year when he gained 72 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries against the Pats and added a season high four catches for 28 yards. Expect a better rushing effort here on neutral ground with Bradshaw in the backfield as well this time. The Pats defense allowed six scores to running backs in away games this year.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Hakeem Nicks has a sore shoulder and is deemed questionable but he will play. Nicks accounted for 165 yards and two scores against the Packers in the first playoff game but did not play in the week nine meeting with the Patriots. In that game, Mario Manningham caught three passes for 33 yards and one touchdown and he has scored in seven of the last nine games including the last three. Victor Cruz hauled in six passes for 91 yards in New England though he did not score. Cruz is coming off a break out season and just turned in ten catches for 142 yards in San Francisco.

The Patriots on the road are much softer - they have not been on the road in six weeks now. 12 different receivers turned in 80+ yards against them in road games and nine players wideouts scored. Manning pulled off a comeback last time and that was without Ahmad Bradshaw or Hakeem Nicks. Look for a better game this time.

TIGHT ENDS: Jake Ballard says he has recovered from a nagging knee injury that saw him with only four catches over the last four games played. Ballard had one of his best games of the year against the Pats when he caught four passes for 67 yards and caught the game winning touchdown with only 19 seconds left to play. The Patriots have ranked highly against tight ends but mainly because they have faced so few good receiving tight ends.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NYG 7 8 3 18 24 10
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 32 20 32 3 6 3


New England Patriots
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @MIA 38-24 10 @NYJ 37-16
2 SD 35-21 11 KC 34-3
3 @BUF 31-34 12 @PHI 38-20
4 @OAK 31-19 13 IND 31-24
5 NYJ 30-21 14 @WAS 34-27
6 DAL 20-16 15 @DEN 41-23
8 @PIT 17-25 16 MIA 27-24
9 NYG 20-24 17 BUF 49-21
19 DEN 45-10 20 BAL 23-20
Patriots Report | Statistics | Roster
NEW ENGLAND Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady - - 300,3
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis 40 10 -
TE Rob Gronkowski - 40,1 -
TE Aaron Hernandez - 70,1 -
WR Deion Branch - 40 -
WR Wes Welker - 120,1 -
PK S. Gostkowski 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Pats have not played a road game since week 15 and now face the road-tested Giants who are probably as healthy now as they have all year. Problem here is that Rob Gronkowski has a high ankle sprain and while he is expect to play, he is not going to be anywhere near 100% and that's a major chunk of the Pats offense limping. Gronkowski accounted for 101 yards and a fourth quarter score in the last meeting with the Giants. While he wasn't the entire offense by any means, the biggest game of the year will see the Pats with their best weapon limited.

QUARTERBACK: Tom Brady started his playoffs with a ridiculous 363 passing yards and six touchdowns against the visiting Broncos but in the AFC Championship he was held to only 239 yards and no passing scores for the first time all year. He also ran in a score for the first time as well. Back in week nine, Brady threw for 342 yards and two scores with two interceptions and a fumble in the previous meeting with the Giants and as mentioned, a big chunk went to Gronkowski.

The status of Gronkowski will have a big bearing on this team because otherwise there is mainly just Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez.. Brady still threw for 342 yards and two scores in the last game and he always shows up in big games. Even without Gronkowski, Brady is a lock for high yardage.

RUNNING BACKS: Stevan Ridley will be active for the Super Bowl and add into the mix of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead. Back in week nine, the only rushing score went to Tom Brady. Green-Ellis ran for 52 yards on 12 carries and Woodhead gained 26 yards on seven runs. Expect less success running in a road game against a healthier Giants defense.

The Giants have not allowed a running back to rush in a score since week 12.

WIDE RECEIVERS: The last meeting with the Giants saw Wes Welker come up big with his nine catches for 136 yards but he never scored. Deion Branch was shut down by CB Corey Webster and only managed two receptions for 21 yards. No other wideout had a catch in that game and recently Chad Ochocinco has not even been active for games. With the chance that Gronkowski being limited, it would make Welker just that more important though also that much more the attention of the secondary.

As with most games this year, Welker has the only decent outlook of this group though Brady could always surprise.

TIGHT ENDS: How well will Rob Gronkowski play with a high ankle sprain? His ankle was clearly crunched against the Ravens though he returned to the game. And Gronkowski says he's improving every day and he will play. He caught eight passes for 101 yards and a score in the last meeting - what would have been the game winner with 1:36 left to play if Manning did not get hot. Aaron Hernandez scored once in that game as well with four catches for 35 yards. He will have to step up and compensate for any shortcomings from Gronk. As with all things Patriot, Gronkowski's status won't be crystal clear until the game is already underway.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 3 21 13 1 3 6
Preventing Fantasy Points NYG 28 19 29 28 13 10


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