The keys to the game have been laid out for a couple weeks now. The Giants have to pressure Tom Brady and get physical with Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski so he has trouble getting off the line with his injured ankle.
The Patriots need to run the ball and force the Gints front four to at least give running backs a passing glance on their way to Brady.
And so on.
But here are some considerations.
All week the slight edge in terse has been with the Patriots, who seem to be remembering that it was the Giants who last beat them this year, 10 games ago, and the Giants who ruined a historic perfect season in Super Bowl XLII. That wont be on the New England minds at game time but anything that provides motivation during the week translates into preparation, and nobody does that better than Bill Belichick teams.
The early guess here is that Belichick will come at Eli Manning and the New York offense with something previously unseen. Maybe its a 2-5 package for added linebacker support against the running of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, as well as a coverage maze underneath for Manning and blitz worries for the New York line.
And during the week, two Giants pass rushers pointed out that New York has lost games despite big sack totals. Rex Grossman was sacked four times and the Redskins still beat the Giants, and the Seattle Seahawks shook off six sacks to win by 11.
Both teams are 3-1 all-time in Super Bowls and both coaches have won Super Bowls. Both quarterbacks have won Super Bowls. The Giants have won five straight coming into this game; the Patriots have won 10.
All of which means that even with the firepower on both sides under center, this game will be close.
Patriots 24 Giants 23
This could be interesting.
Bears coach John Fox made a passing reference to “owies” last week, an apparent reference to the typical nicks and bruises that players suffer, presumably falling on the safe side of the pain-vs.-injury line. Coaches like players to play when they can.
The Cleveland Browns suspended K’Waun Williams this offseason for two weeks after the former No. 1 Cleveland nickel cornerback refused to play in the Aug. 12 Browns preseason opener against the Green Bay Packers.
Now the Bears have claimed Williams, 25, waiving cornerback Kevin Peterson, and hope Williams is past what the Browns look to have deemed just their version of an “owie.”
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Williams’ release comes after a convoluted disagreement between player and team, with Williams obtaining medical opinions that he needed surgery to remove bone spurs from an ankle. The team said that Williams never informed them of his ankle problems until the day after the Green Bay game.
The Bears have struggled mightily this preseason to find anything close to a healthy cornerback. Starters Kyle Fuller (knee) and Tracy Porter (concussion) are currently sidelined along with nickel corner Bryce Callahan (hamstring). Jacoby Glenn started for Fuller at New England but also left with a concussion.
Pro Bowl right guard Kyle Long continued doing work on the side of Bears practice on Tuesday. He won’t play Thursday at Cleveland, but he represents a looming one-man shakeup of the offensive line — in a positive way — when he returns from a shoulder injury, presumably next week.
Coach John Fox demurred from saying that Long will be in the lineup when the Bears open the regular season Sept. 11 in Houston.
“We’re anticipating him at least being back out there to get ready for Houston,” was as far as Fox would go on Tuesday.
But Ted Larsen, who has filled in for Long at right guard while Cornelius Edison worked as the No. 1 center, has been taking some snaps at center, a hint that Long might be on course for a return for Houston.
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When that happens, it will effectively improve all three interior-line positions at the same time.
The upgrade at right guard is immediate and obvious. When Long was pressed into an emergency shift to right tackle the week before the opener vs. Green Bay last year, it sent Vlad Ducasse into the starting lineup at Long’s preferred spot. Long now represents an obvious upgrade over Larsen.
Installing Larsen at center, where he went after Hroniss Grasu suffered his season-ending knee injury, upgrades the center position over Edison, who has never played an NFL game.
The third upgrade happens at left guard, where rookie Cody Whitehair has settled in at the job he stepped into when Larsen was out late in the offseason. Whitehair is a rookie; Larsen, who has played center during his career, is better able to help Whitehair than Edison, certainly at this point in the latter’s career.
The Minnesota Vikings announced Tuesday that franchise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a dislocated knee and torn ACL, likely ending his 2016 season before it began.
Bridgewater suffered the injury during Tuesday's practice, which was cancelled immediately following the non-contact incident. The 23-year-old quarterback was carted off the field and transported to a nearby hospital in an ambulance.
Vikings Director of Sports Medicine and Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman released this statement on Bridgewater:
Teddy Bridgewater suffered a non-contact injury today at practice. The injury was quickly identified as a dislocated knee. The injury was stabilized, and he was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment and evaluation. After undergoing an MRI, it was determined that Teddy suffered a complete tear to his ACL and other structural damage. Fortunately, there appears to be no nerve or arterial damage. Surgical repair will be scheduled within the next few days. Although the recovery time will be significant, we expect Teddy to make a full recovery. I would like to thank all of the medical professionals and our athletic training staff for all of their help today. Teddy has already displayed the attitude needed to overcome this injury and attack his rehab.
Bridgewater, the Vikings' 2014 first-round draft pick, led Minnesota to their first division title since 2009 last season.
In two seasons, Bridgewater is 17-11 with 28 touchdowns, 21 interceptions with 6,150 passing yards and a 87.0 QBR.