Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Super Bowl Preview: Quarterbacks

Two of the best quarterbacks in the league are squaring off in the biggest game in the world, which is not surprising considering the burden put on the quarterback position every week in the NFL. Both Eli Manning and Tom Brady have played at an extremely high level all season, so who has the edge?

Brady has more experience in the big game, but both Brady and Eli played in the 2008 Super Bowl, so experience is not a factor. In fact, since the Giants have beaten the Patriots the last two times they've played, let's give the psychological edge to Eli Manning.

Statistically, Brady had the better season, and he has been the better quarterback for his career. He plays very well within the New England scheme, and he uses short passes to open up seams down the field, only taking what the defense gives him. Manning has also had a fantastic season statistically, and he has been incredibly clutch all year long. His passing in the fourth quarter and on third down has been the best in the league, which is a big reason why the Giants are in this position.

But as we've seen a few times this year, Eli has thrown some duds. While they haven't happened recently, they have happened, which is a cause for concern. Brady, on the other hand, has been great all year, if not for a four interception effort against the Bills early on. In terms of playing ability and overall scheme of the offense, the edge has to go to Brady.

Intangibles, which I am going to define as their ability to adapt when situations don't go the way they expect, are the decisive aspect in picking the better quarterback. Manning has the ability to make plays by standing tall in the pocket, taking a hit, and throwing the ball up for grabs. While this sounds like a bad trait, Eli has so much faith in his receivers, and rightfully so, that he trusts them to make a play on the football. And it has paid off, both with David Tyree in the last Super Bowl and with Hakeem Nicks at the end of the first half against the Packers.

Brady, meanwhile, has incredible mobility. You may be laughing about that statement, but it's true. While Brady moves slowly, he moves within his pocket very efficiently. He steps up at the right times, and his movement in the pocket actually sets up blocks for his linemen, effectively making them better blockers. This will be very important against a strong Giants pass rush with several playmakers on the defensive line.

Brady has the better intangibles, and there really isn't much of an argument that Manning is a better quarterback. While Giants fans would like to believe he is, Manning would have to win this game to even start making his case for being better than Tom Brady or his brother Peyton. Until then, the edge goes to Brady and the Patriots at the most important position in football.

Predicted Statistics:

Brady: 21-31, 285 yards, 2 tds, 0 ints

Manning: 32-47, 350 yards, 2 tds, 2 ints

Look for Manning to have inflated statistics, as I expect the Patriots to come out of the gate quicker, and Manning will make some mistakes. Brady, on the other hand, will play nearly flawless football, making him a potential MVP candidate if the Patriots pull this one out. Check back tomorrow for both running back and receiver analysis.

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