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Neil is expecting a great season finale in Indianapolis

Neil Reynolds Posted 3rd February 2012 view comments

As we move ever closer to Sunday and the Super Bowl XLVI showdown between the New England Patriots and New York Giants, you can feel the excitement growing here in Indianapolis and the tension will be rising among the players from both teams.

And it's in situations like that where the character of these two teams really comes to the fore. The Giants - buoyed by their five-game winning streak - are confident, brash and are taking on an in-your-face persona that is not a million miles away from the Big Apple itself.

Tom Brady: will he be celebrating with the New England patriots on Sunday?

Tom Brady: will he be celebrating with the New England patriots on Sunday?

Defensive lineman Chris Canty has been telling Giants fans to prepare for a ticker-tape parade in New York on Tuesday and there are many of his team-mates also talking a good game ahead of the big match.

Running-back Brandon Jacobs makes no apologies for New York's approach to Sunday's game, insisting: "There's no reason why we shouldn't be confident. We shouldn't have gotten on the buses if we weren't confident. If a guy isn't confident, they should kick him off and send him back to Jersey."

We're going to see a tactical chess match at Lucas Oil Stadium but, more than that, we could be seeing genuine greatness

Neil Reynolds
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We should not be fooled into thinking the Giants are all hot air and no substance because that is not the case. Many experts out here are predicting Super Bowl success for New York and I know for a fact that head coach Tom Coughlin will have them ready to play come Sunday night.

Motivation

With the Giants, it's just a case of them not being afraid to give the other team what the Americans love to call 'bulletin board material'.

When it comes to bulletin board material, the New England Patriots are borderline obsessed with not giving a single motivational line of note to the opposition. They have always been that way.

Ahead of last season's playoff loss to the New York Jets, wide receiver Wes Welker made some ill-advised jokes about New York head coach Rex Ryan during his pre-game press conference. Most saw it as harmless fun but Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was furious and benched his star wide receiver for the first quarter of a massive game.

So it's clear the Patriots will do their talking on the field on Sunday night.

Pro Bowl defensive lineman Vince Wilfork hammered home that belief when he stressed: "The game is never won in the papers or through the media. You always have to rely on that game on Sunday."

Superstar quarterback Tom Brady added: "The Giants have always been a confident team. They should be confident. They're a damn good football team that has won some pretty tough games down the stretch. But we're pretty confident too."

Brady is ready to take centre stage on Sunday night and a win will put him right at the very top of the pile when it comes to judging the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

Brady is tied with his childhood hero, Joe Montana, in terms of all-time playoff wins with 16 and a victory against the Giants would give him four career Super Bowl successes. That is not bad going for an unheralded quarterback out of Michigan who was taken in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.

That's one of the fascinating storylines of this Super Bowl. We're going to see a tactical chess match at Lucas Oil Stadium but, more than that, we could be seeing genuine greatness and the crowning of a living NFL legend.

Maybe then, Belichick might give his hugely successful quarterback a whole heap of praise because he has often been very guarded in his comments about Brady. I interviewed Belichick at Gillette Stadium in the summer of 2009 and the most I could get from him was "Tom's pretty good."

Tough love

He's certainly way better than that and has not been hurt by Belichick's tough love.

"He coaches us hard," Brady explained. "He coaches me hard. He's relentless on things like, 'Brady can't complete a hitch. Wide open and you throw it in the dirt?' Part of me wants to stand up and strangle him. But he wants us to be at our best every single day."

The Patriots have not always reached Belichick's demanding goals this season but they have been hugely successful and enter Sunday's title decider on a 10-game winning streak. They have a steely determination about them heading into the weekend and won't mind that many are picking the Giants to win in Indianapolis.

I think the Giants have the pass rush to get after Brady and offensive weapons of their own to go out and win this game. Quarterback Eli Manning is in the form of his life and has outstanding receivers in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz who can expose a New England secondary that has struggled for much of the year.

As this game draws ever closer, I am leaning towards a victory for the Giants. But I know only fools bet against Brady and Belichick, especially when both men appear determined to succeed on Sunday night.

Either way, we're in for a great game. We'll either see Manning grab a second Super Bowl ring in the home stadium of his elder brother, Peyton, or we'll see Brady and Belichick cement their status as true greats of this wonderful game.

Join us at 10:30pm on Sky Sports HD1 on Sunday - it should be quite a night!

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