AccuScore numbers game: Pats will find a way

Based on 10,000 simulations, the chances of the Giants winning the Super Bowl are not great -- just 25 percent. The average simulation shows a score of New England 31, New York 21. These baseline simulations clearly favor the Patriots, but there are a number of things that could make this game a nail-biter.

Patriots QB Tom Brady is taking advantage of the warm, likely dry weather in Arizona and is having another 300-plus yard game with a three-to-one touchdown-to-interception ratio. The Giants' Eli Manning is good, but he is averages one interception per simulation despite not throwing one in the playoffs.

If Manning can come close to matching Brady, the Giants' chances improve by at least 12 percentage points. If Manning can be perfect in turnovers, then the Giants are in a virtual dead-heat with New England. The Giants have a 45 percent chance of winning, and the average score is much closer (Pats 28, Giants 26) if Manning does not commit a turnover.

Can the Giants convert in the red zone?

The Giants use both Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw at running back, while the Patriots have gotten some great performances from Laurence Maroney and vitally important receptions from Kevin Faulk. In baseline simulations, Jacobs and Bradshaw are combining for 152 all-purpose yards and one touchdown. The Patriots' combo has the slight edge with 164 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.

Although the Patriots have the overall edge, the Giants are averaging more yards per carry, 4.8 to 4.1. Even with this advantage, the Giants are winning just 25 percent of simulations.

To pull off the upset, Jacobs will have to convert on third down and score touchdowns in the red zone. Despite averaging just 3.2 yards per carry in the playoffs, Jacobs is forecasted for 4.5 yards per carry versus the Patriots. If Jacobs can play at a high level, and excel in short-yardage and goal-line situations, then the Giants' chances improve by more than eight percentage points.

Maroney is the running back who could greatly exceed his overall season numbers. Maroney has had more than 100 yards in four of his last five games, including 122 in both playoff games. In AccuScore simulations we factored in only Maroney's last five games, including a 46-yard outing against the Giants in Week 17. If Maroney continues his recent tear, the Patriots are an overwhelming 81 percent favorite.

Is Brady that much better than Manning?

We simulated the game with Brady playing for the Giants and Manning for the Patriots. The Brady-led Giants win 51 percent of simulations. They go from a 25 percent underdog to a slight favorite with Brady at the helm. Brady's presence helps Plaxico Burress, who averages nearly 100 yards receiving.

Peyton vs. Eli

Last year's Super Bowl MVP, Peyton Manning, has plenty of experience playing against the Patriots. AccuScore replaced Eli with Peyton to see the impact. With Peyton at quarterback, the Giants' chances improve considerably (37 percent).


After running these alternative scenarios, the Giants are not at a big disadvantage at wide receiver or in the running game. They are losing 75 percent of simulations because Brady is forecasted to significantly outplay Manning. However, Jeff Garcia, Tony Romo and Brett Favre were also forecasted for better stats than Manning, and they all lost to Manning.

In simulations where the Giants win, Manning outplays Brady, but the statistics are not beyond reason. Brady still has the advantage in passing yards, but Manning has the better touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Jacobs is averaging 18 carries for 91 yards in wins versus just 15 carries and 63 yards in losses.

The Patriots are the clear favorites, but Giants fans have plenty of reasons to stay positive. If Manning does not turn the ball over and the running game can help the Giants' offense score touchdowns in the red zone, then this could come down to a final field goal. However, if the two-week layoff causes the Giants to lose some momentum while helping the Patriots get their record-setting offense back on track, then this one could be over by halftime.

Stephen Oh, an NFL analyst for AccuScore, is a contributor to ESPN.com.