Super Bowl X Factors
Osi Umenyiora, DE, NYG- It’s easy to sleep on Osi Umenyiora. I think a lot of people have forgotten how dominant of a player Umenyiora can be when he is healthy. A lot of this has to do with the fact that Jason Pierre-Paul has emerged this season as the Giants primary pass rusher. The last time the Patriots met the Giants in the Super Bowl, they lost because Brady had less time to throw than they had all season. If the Giants have any chance to win this time around, the pass rush will be the single most important factor.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, NYG- I’m picking Nicks as an X-factor for a similar reason that I picked Umenyiora. Nicks has been overshadowed by rookie standout Victor Cruz this season much the same way that Jason Pierre-Paul has overshadowed Umenyiora. Through three games thus far this postseason, Nicks has delivered with 335 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. The main reason that Nicks has been producing so much is because teams this postseason have been concentrating so much on Cruz. With the Patriots weak secondary, expect both of the receivers to have a big game.
Deon Grant, S, NYG- Grant has had a very good postseason thus far. The Giants secondary did not have a great regular season, but Grant is a big reason why they have been able to slow down elite quarterbacks such as Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers. They have the 31st pass defense in the NFL, but you wouldn’t know from their performances this postseason. Through three games, Grant has accumulated 13 tackles, an interception, and 3 pass deflections. They will need role players like Grant to continue to step up on defense to slow down Brady.
Aaron Hernandez, TE, New England- With all the attention that the Giants will be paying on Rob Gronkowski, it could actually be Hernandez who has the bigger game. The tight ends are now the key to New England’s passing attack, so they need at least one of them to produce.
Steven Ridley, RB, New England- Ridley has seen more and more carries as this season has gone on. He is the Patriots most explosive rusher. The Patriots will be throwing the ball a lot against the Giants, but if they can keep them guessing with the occasional explosive run their offense will be almost impossible to stop.
Kyle Arrington, CB, New England- Arrington quietly led the Patriots this year with seven interceptions. If the Patriots win the turnover battle, I don’t see them losing. Expect Arrington to get some balls on his hands over the course of the game.