Super Bowl XLVI will be the first title matchup between Super Bowl-winning coaches in 25 years. A win Sunday would make 65-year-old Tom Coughlin the oldest coach ever to win a Super Bowl, while Bill Belichick could join Chuck Noll as the only head coaches in history with four Super Bowl rings. Some of these players are pretty good, too, with both quarterbacks boasting Super Bowl MVP trophies on their resumes.
Eli Manning and New York’s trio of wide receivers have been dissected extensively, so here are three non-Eli storylines from the Giants to watch for during Sunday’s game:
* During the regular season, New York rushed four or fewer pass rushers on 69.9 percent of dropbacks with great success. The Giants have upped that percentage to 82.3 percent in the postseason. Only the Eagles (38 sacks) had more sacks with a standard pass rush than the Giants (34) in the regular season, and New York added six more in the last three playoff games. Jason Pierre-Paul has been a monster for the Giants, playing the most snaps of any defensive lineman in the NFL this season (1,065) and posting 11.5 regular season sacks as part of a four-man rush. In Week 9 against the Patriots, the Giants put Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka on the field together for a season-high 26 snaps. While they sacked Brady only once in 19 dropbacks, against other opponents that quartet sacked quarterbacks once every 4.6 attempts on the field together. New England’s plan to counter New York’s aggressive personnel will be important.
* New York’s running game has largely been a disappointment this season due to injury and inconsistency. Ahmad Bradshaw has battled injuries all season, appearing on the Giants’ injury report every week since missing four games in November with a stress fracture in his right foot. Bradshaw has been playing through the injuries of late, but his status has led to touches for the enigmatic Brandon Jacobs. Jacobs, listed on the Giants website at 6-foot-4 and 264 pounds, ranked 46th out of 56 qualified rushers with 1.7 yards after contact per rush in the regular season. Jacobs has run harder in the playoffs (2.3 yards after contact per rush), but he’s had 14 carries in the last two games for 35 rushing yards. Bradshaw should get the majority of the touches, but he has posted only one 100-yard game this season (Week 6 vs. Bills), and hasn’t rushed for even 75 yards in a game since.
* One Giant to keep an eye on is linebacker Michael Boley. Boley missed a pair of games this season with a hamstring injury, and his presence as the defensive signal-caller is crucial to the Giants’ success. Boley played 79.9 percent of the Giants’ defensive snaps this season and his absence was felt. The Giants allowed 5.5 yards per rush and 8.3 yards per pass attempt when Boley was off the field this season and 4.2 yards per rush and 7.3 yards per pass attempt with Boley on field. Boley was effective in both run support and pass coverage during the regular season, but he has been more active in the pass rush in his three playoff games. Boley has a pair of sacks in the playoffs after only registering one in the regular season. However, his lone regular season sack was a third-quarter forced fumble on Tom Brady during New York’s Week 9 win.