Ed Williams and Jeff Baldwin have had an impressive postseason picking against the spread thus far. After nailing three of his four picks last week, Ed moves to 9-3 with 1,350 units. Jeff was 2-2 last week but managed not to lose ground thanks to his bigger wager on the Giants' victory. He stands at 8-4 with 1,250 units. With a maximum of 400 units to play with in the final game, this is still anyone's contest. Ed and Jeff will be picking the game, the over/under and two props as well. With his back against the wall, can Jeff make a furious comeback and take the bragging rights? Or will Ed make his lead hold up and make up for an underwhelming regular season?
Look back at their previous columns to see how the contest has shaken out. Wild Card | Divisional | Conference
New York Giants vs. New England Patriots (-3)
Ed: When the line for this game was first released, like most people, I thought the Giants were the easy pick here. I even felt that way late last week. But any time something looks like a sure thing, it most definitely isn’t. The more I started to think about this one, the more I started to like the Pats. Yes, the Giants are the hot team and Eli Manning is playing even better than Tom Brady right now. And yes, the Giants’ front four is arguably the best in the league. But this is Tom Brady and Bill Belichick we’re talking about. About the worst thing that could have happened for the Giants was to have Brady coming off of a bad game. I’m sure Brady is motivated to play every game, but there is no way he’ll be able to live with himself if he puts forth another mediocre performance like he did against the Ravens. The Giants’ secondary won’t know what hit it by the time this one is over. Rob Gronkowski is hurt, but he’s a physical freak. Terrell Owens dominated in Super Bowl XXXIX with a broken foot, so don’t count Gronkowski out just yet. And if you think Bill Belichick is about to let the Giants beat him in two Super Bowls in four years, you’re sadly mistaken. And lastly, the Giants play their best football when their backs are against the walls and they’re the underdogs. Even though the point spread says they’re an underdog, everyone in the media and even your average man on the street is picking them to win. If they even start to believe their own hype, they’re doomed. I don’t like giving a field goal here, but look for the Pats to pull out an emotional win in honor of owner Robert Kraft’s late wife Myra.
Patriots -3, 100 units
Jeff: In a rematch of Super Bowl XLII, the Giants meet up again with the Patriots. However, this isn't the same Patriots team they faced a few years back. The Patriots' biggest weakness defensively this year has been their secondary. I expect Eli Manning to have great success exploiting this with all his weapons at wide receiver. The Giants' defensive line has been very effective disrupting Tom Brady. In their Week 9 matchup, Brady threw 2 interceptions and had a lost fumble. The Giants won that game at New England on a late touchdown pass by Eli Manning to Jake Ballard. What made it even more impressive was the fact that both Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks didn't play because of injuries. Also, with the ankle injury to Rob Gronkowski in the AFC Championship game, we just don't know how effective he will be. It's just another hurdle the Patriots will have to overcome. I think it will be a competitive game, but in the end I think the Giants are the better all around team and will find a way to win like they have throughout their playoff run. Eli Manning leads the Giants to a 27-20 victory as he earns his second Super Bowl MVP award.
Giants +3, 200 units
Giants vs. Patriots (Total points: 54)
Ed: This one has all the makings of a shootout, but 54 points is very high. Even though the number has fallen 1 1/2 points since it opened, I still have to go with the under here. While both offenses are extremely explosive, this is still the Super Bowl, and there will still be some jitters early on. Look for both teams to get off to a slow start before the scoring picks up in the second half. I also feel like one of the more under-the-radar topics heading into the game is the improved play of New England’s defense of late. They held the Ravens to 20 points and the Broncos to just 10. Vince Wilfork has been an absolute beast up front, and the patchwork secondary has been improving. If it wasn’t for the backup cornerback Sterling Moore, Lee Evans would have caught a game-winning TD in the AFC Championship, and we’d have a completely different matchup. New England’s defense may not be pretty all game, but it’s capable of coming up with big stops in big situations. And the Giants are not very good against the run. Even though the Pats are a pass-first team, Bill Belichick is smart enough to exploit a weakness when he sees it. Benjarvus Green-Ellis was able to rumble for 68 yards against a stout Ravens’ run defense, so look for him to have an even better game against the Giants, which will keep the scoring down a bit. No matter what you pick I think, you’ll be sweating this one out late, but the under is the pick.
Under 54, 150 units
Jeff: This total has come down 1.5 points since it opened, but I think it is still on the high side. If you look at their Week 9 matchup, the game was played in the low to mid 20s. I can see it being similar to that on Sunday. The Giants' defense is playing at such a high level right now. I look for the Giants' defense to have success disrupting Tom Brady. The one positive about the Patriots' defense is they are stopping the run a lot better since the playoffs started. I don't see this game being a shootout.
Under 54, 100 units
Total receiving yards for Mario Manningham (Over/under 45.5)
Ed: Manningham has been almost nonexistent in the last couple of games in terms of yards (he does have a TD in each game), but he had a nice game against the Falcons with four catches for 68 yards. I really think Bill Belichick will devise a plan to try and shut down either Hakeem Nicks or Victor Cruz. This should open things up for the often forgotten about Manningham. Given the last couple of games, this pick is a little risky, but Eli Manning will have to spread the ball around, and Manningham will be the biggest beneficiary.
Manningham over 45.5 yards, 50 units
Will Hakeem Nicks score a TD? (Yes/No)
Jeff: In a game where the Giants should have great success throwing the ball and scoring points, I think Eli Manning will find Nicks for a touchdown. The Patriots may look to place more attention on Victor Cruz, which will allow Nicks to make big plays down the field. Nicks will get into the end zone on Sunday.
Yes, Nicks will score a TD, 50 units
Total rushing yards for Benjarvis Green-Ellis (Over/under 47.5)
Ed: As I mentioned in my under pick, the Patriots would be stupid not to try and exploit the run defense of the Giants. Jason Pierre-Paul and the Giants’ front four will be all jacked up trying to get the QB, so why not run right past those pass rushers? Everyone expects this to be an aerial shootout, but don’t be surprised to see the Pats use a ground and pound attack. Plus, the more New England can keep the Giants’ high-octane offense off the field the better. If Green-Ellis was able to run on the Ravens, this should be a walk in the park.
Green-Ellis over 47.5 yards, 100 units
Patriots total points (Over/under 29.5)
Jeff: With the Giants' defense playing at such a high level right now, I think this number is too high. I expect the Giants' defense to force Tom Brady and the Patriots' offense to stall on some drives and either punt or kick field goals, which will result in them scoring in the low to mid 20s. I don't see the Patriots putting up 30 or more points in this game.
Pats under 29.5 points, 50 units