FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – This year’s Super Bowl hype has drawn battle lines all over Fairfield County, including in bars and even within families. Main Street Connect is not immune, either, as regional reporter Richard Weizel (a lifelong New York Giants fan) and sports reporter Eric Gendron (a lifelong New England Patriots fan) duke it out over which team will win Sunday’s big game.
Richard: Eric, the Patriots shouldn't even be in the Super Bowl. I mean if the Ravens didn't have butter on their hands – and on their shoes – Giants fans would be getting ready to avenge our one and only Super Bowl loss against Baltimore.
Instead, we have to beat the Patriots for a third time. I mean, it's really getting old. Oh, and by the way, if the Ravens can put up what should have been nearly 30 points in your own stadium, how many touchdowns do you think Eli, Cruz and Nicks will rack up in the dreaded Indianapolis dome – where another Manning has had some success?
Eric: You're forgetting one thing Richard – Hell hath no fury like a Tom Brady scorned. This is the redemption tour 2011-12 and Brady is making a list and checking it twice.
Every team that has beaten the Patriots in the playoffs in the Brady era has been put to bed - and the Giants are next. Jets? Gone. Colts? Kaput. Broncos? Kicked Tebow's butt twice for good measure. Ravens? Well, let's just say the late wife of Patriots owner Bob Kraft may have given us some magic in pulling Billy Cundiff’s big whiff to the left of the goal posts.
Bottom line - Brady's sole mission in life right now is to destroy Big Blue. And to beat little Manning in Indianapolis - the home of the Patriots' biggest rival, Peyton Manning - that's just too many stars aligning.
Richard: OK, Eric, I will concede that Brady badly wants revenge. That doesn't translate into a win. But even a Giants fan like me can't blame him for wanting it. Big Blue thrives on revenge. Not the Pats. And with the G-Men's defensive front now completely healthy, Brady is going to need more than a super model wife to heal his wounds after the game.
Now, let's get to the Patriots biggest problem — you know what's coming here, and I can feel Patriot Nation's collective fear. You have nearly the lowest ranked defense in the league, and your particular weakness on pass coverage happens to match for a perfect storm with the Giants greatest strength — Eli to, well, pick a receiver.
Isn't Belicheat supposed to be some kind of defensive genius? Now he's resorting to using wideouts as cornerbacks? I can just see Cruz doing his Salsa dance in the end zone, maybe more than once, or Nicks leaping up high to pull in the ball against his helmet. Sound familiar?
Eric: Richard, the Giants have made one critical mistake — they're the ones who are overconfident this time and the Pats are the team with everything to prove. Yes, we were a little cocky in the Super Bowl-that-shall-not-be-named. But teams that are so sure they are going to beat Bill "Dark Hoodie" Belichick get the unpleasant surprise of their life.
I'll admit the Patriots do not match up well as a team against the Giants. New York's front seven defenders will likely smother a lot of what little running game the Pats have. With Sebastian Vollmer coming back, however, the Pats' offensive line is going to be completely healthy for the first time since Week One and that may balance the deck.
And don't you fret about Rob Gronkowski's ankle. Even if the Gronk is not at 100 percent, just his presence is going to open holes for our OTHER elite tight end, Aaron Hernandez. Oh yeah, and we still have wide receivers Wes Welker and Deion Branch you have to deal with. That's what Brady does - he finds the guy to throw to.
Richard: Eric, sure we're confident this time. But that comes with beating the Patriots twice — and I'll say it if you can't bring yourself to — including that 2008 Super Bowl that ruined your perfect season.
Richard’s Prediction: Giants 31, Patriots 27
Eric: I won’t lie, Richard, I’m nervous about this one, and it just might come down to the last play. But in Tommy I trust and if the Pats can put points on the scoreboard they will avenge their greatest loss.
Eric’s Prediction: Patriots 34, Giants 28
But wait — are you a lonely New York Jets fan? We've got you covered, too!