Super Bowl open thread

We’ve spent the last few months following the NFL season, but now it’s finally come down to the final game. Unfortunately, it’s also the final easy NFL open thread post I get to write for several months, but if it’s a good game, it’ll be worth it. And tonight’s game certainly looks like a classic, made even better since it’s a rematch of one of the most dramatic Super Bowls ever.  Four years ago, the New York Giants shocked the New England Patriots in Arizona, ruining their perfect season and denying them an argument for being the greatest single-season team of all time.  Now they’ll meet in Indianapolis for the rematch, essentially the same two teams [see update II below] as four years ago.

Both teams are coming off of close victories in the championship game, both by a field goal, with the Giants winning in overtime against San Francisco.  Both teams have high-powered offenses, but have glaring weaknesses in big areas.  The Giants are the worst in the NFL at running the ball and nearly the worst defending against the pass (29th).  Only three teams were worse, but one of them was … the New England Patriots (31st), and they’re also only 20th against the run.  It’s their 2nd-rated pass offense that put them in the Super Bowl, as did the Giants’ 5-rated pass offense.

So who has the edge?  The Giants got hot late in the season as their injuries cleared up, and they have won their last two playoff games on the road, including beating the league-best Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.  The Patriots go on the road for the first time since the third week of December, but they had a solid 6-2 record on the road in 2011.  They have to go into a dome, but the Giants are also an outdoor team moving into a dome, and the crowd is likely to be boisterous but non-partisan.

It’s difficult to pick, but it’s easy to predict that this should be another great game.  I can’t really justify it, but I think the Giants are just hot at the moment, similar to the 2007 season.  The Pats and Tom Brady will certainly be motivated for revenge, but I think the Giants defense will play tougher than their stats would indicate.  I’ll predict the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots 24-19 — and give us a lot to discuss in the off-season.

Update: Doesn’t this look like bad karma, or something?

The Patriots made their final transaction of the 2011 season on Saturday, releasing wide receiver Tiquan Underwood and promoting defensive lineman Alex Silvestro from the practice squad.

The transaction was not due to disciplinary reasons, according to a source. …

Underwood’s release likely means that wide receiver Chad Ochocinco will be active for Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday.

That was a decision that couldn’t have been made, oh, two weeks ago?  The Daily Caller calls it “supremely cold,” and that’s certainly how it looks.

Update II: They’re not “essentially” the same two teams, as only 7 Pats and 15 Giants remain from that 2008 game.  However, they’re both the same kind of teams they were in 2008, with the same two head coaches and the same two quarterbacks.  They’re playing the same kind of football that brought both to the 2008 championship.  Thanks to Radjah in the comments for the clarification.