There are so many subplots in this game, it is difficult to pick just three. Here are some that didn’t make the cut, but have significant meaning:
Which franchise will win its fourth Super Bowl? The winner will join a select group with four or more titles (49ers, Steelers, Packers and Cowboys). If the Giants win, head coach Tom Coughlin will have the most road wins in the history of the league (eight). He’ll have broken a tie with legendary Cowboys coach Tom Landry. Also, will Eli win his second -- in big brother Peyton’s place, no less? Or will Tom Brady tie Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana for the most rings (four) in the Super Bowl era?
What to watch for ...
1. Speed kills
The Giants’ “NASCAR” unit holds all the keys to this game. That group includes five bonafide pass rushers, usually on the field at the same time, including defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Dave Tollefson and linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka. It’ll be a chess match throughout the game, as the Patriots often go to the five-wide receiver set to stretch the defense thin. If the rush can’t get to Tom Brady, it’ll leave the Giants’ sometimes suspect secondary vulnerable.
2. Is the Pats defense good?
Giants’ running back Brandon Jacobs said the Patriots’ defense “is really good. … I don’t see what other people see.” If the playoffs are any indication he might be right, as New England has tightened up loose ends. No one will confuse them with the 49ers or Ravens, but the Patriots’ defense isn’t the sieve it was earlier in the season. The Giants are loaded on offense, specifically in the passing game (Eli Manning has eight touchdowns to just one interception), so it’s up to Pats’ head coach Bill Belichick to find a way to slow down Big Blue’s attack. Belichick’s creativity this year has been to use receivers in the secondary, like Julian Edelman. And while Giants’ receivers have said all the right things this week, it’s certain they all want their cracks at the convert.
3. Born to run
The Giants’ rushing game has really picked it up since the playoffs began, following a 16-game regular-season slate that had them dead last in rushing yards and yards per game. Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw have combined for 327 rushing yards in the playoffs and look to continue that hot streak. The Giants knocked off the Pats on Nov. 6 as they had a balanced attack (250 passing and 111 rushing). They didn’t have Bradshaw in that game, as Jacobs carried the load (72 yards on 18 carries), so Big Blue is confident they can do even better with their backfield arsenal fully-loaded.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams live from Lucas Oil Stadium on Twitter @TBone8.