It’s either the Baltimore Ravens or the New York Giants. So does that mean that either Trent Dilfer or Kerry Collins will be leading their team to Disney World as Super Bowl champions? Well, not necessarily.
In this game all coaches are probably asking of their QBs to make fewer mistakes than their opponent. The talk has been that the score will be low, very low. In Vegas, the over/under will probably be close to 10 points, and nobody knows which to pick.
Just remember, the house always wins. Super Bowl XXXV, or 35 for those asking what the letter V is doing in the Tic Tac Toe game, will be about turnovers and field-goal kickers. Baltimore needed a huge Shannon Sharpe reception and a Ray Lewis interception or fumble recovery to defeat Denver, Tennessee and then Oakland. It also didn’t hurt that Tennessee’s Al Del Greco had one of his worst field-goal kicking days ever. But, Super Bowl teams get that luck. In three playoff games, Dilfer threw one interception and it led to Oakland’s only three points.
New York needs to get ahead early. It took about 15 seconds to do away with Philly and five offensive plays to begin Minnesota’s very long day in the NFC Championship. But Collins and the passing game must be clicking because this Baltimore defense is slighty better, shall we say, than Minnesota’s. The early leads also mean that the Giants have never trailed in this year’s postseason. So how will they respond if they fall behind?
The Ravens trailed in Tennessee on two different occasions, although neither time by more than a touchdown. Can Baltimore fall behind and rely on the defense to make a big play? Of course the big little things like field position and penalties will also play a giant (or raven) factor, so play close attention to that.
Baltimore has won 10 straight games. New York has won seven straight. The NFC has won 14 of the last 16 Super Bowls, but I don’t think Baltimore cares about that. Sunday will mark the 10-year Super Bowl anniversary of Scott Norword’s wide-right and New York’s Super Bowl championship.
But the best kicker in football is Matt Stover, and he’s a Raven. That will be the difference, somehow and someway. Enough with New York, Baltimore will have this day.
Prediction- Ravens 20, Giants 19
In possibly the greatest defensive match-up in Super Bowl history, the Baltimore Ravens suffocating linebacker corps, led by Defensive Player of the Year Ray Lewis, will find a way to stop the Giants Kerry Collins. Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer will put the ball at least once into the end zone to seal the championship.
The Giants offense, which shredded the Vikings Swiss-cheese defense last week, will wilt under the pressure of the Ravens defensive line, led by 340-pound Tony Siragusa, and fail to sustain an attack. Tiki Barber will have difficulty running through the Ravens swarming secondary. And Ron Dayne will find holes quickly plugged by Lewis and company.
Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe will come up big as he did against the Raiders, when he broke open the game with a 96-yard touchdown catch.
Alas, Giants coach Jim Fassel’s magic will expire, and Ravens owner Art Modell will have his first championship to the ire of Browns fans everywhere.
Prediction – Ravens 10, Giants 7
Despite the fact that New York stunned the country with its 41 points against the Vikings last weekend, the Baltimore Ravens defense is just too strong. They’ve proven to be the only consistency on a Ravens team that has had its dry spells.
Next weekend the Ravens defense will play hungrier and more aggressive than ever. The Giants running game doesn’t stand a chance. Giants running back Tiki Barber is playing with a broken left arm and Ray Lewis, the heart of the Ravens defense, will feast on him. With one hit, he can remove Barber and the Giants running game. Kerry Collins threw for five touchdowns and 381 yards against the Vikings. For the Giants to win, he’s going to need a game like that because his running game won’t work.
The game will center on how well the Ravens can secondary contain Ike Hilliard and Amani Toomer. The Ravens have a proven secondary with Rod Woodson still laying down hard hits.
If the Ravens can move the ball against the Giant defense, who shutout the explosive Viking offense allowing the NFL’s premier receiver, Randy Moss, only two short receptions, they will win. If Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer can pierce the Giant defense in the confines of his old home stadium, the Ravens will win. He finished with 190 yards against the Raiders. Rookie running back Jamal Lewis also figures to play a key role but will face a Giants defensive front led by Michael Strahan.
This game is going to lack the offensive electricity that the conference championship games had, but even then, the Ravens are at an advantage. Matt Stover is one of the reasons the Ravens made it this far.
Prediction- Ravens 10, Giants 3
-Sean Michael Lee
This was supposed to be the year Deion Sanders and the Washington Redskins took control of the NFC and headed to Tampa. But a Cinderella team in the form of the New York Giants got in the way of the dance with Prince Charming. In the NFL preseason, no one would have dared to pick the New York Giants and the Baltimore Ravens to meet in Super Bowl XXXV. Now I am about to go against the line and pick the Giants to win it – all based on their devastating performance against the Vikings in a 41-0 rout last week.
The Ravens have the best defense in the league led by Ray Lewis, who must put pressure on Kerry Collins for the Ravens to be successful. Running back Jamal Lewis will be in charge of pounding the ball up the middle. The Ravens will need an exceptional game from Jamal Lewis because the Giants’ D, led by cornerback Jason Sehorn, will shut down Baltimore’s receivers. The Giants defense showed just that last week in shutting down Randy Moss and Cris Carter.
For success, Giants running back Tiki Barber must consistently get five or six yards a carry. If the Giants are left with third-and-long situations, they will be punting the ball every time. In order to win the game, Giants defensive end Michael Strahan must have a big game. He must pressure quarterback Trent Dilfer and either sack him or make him scramble with the ball. He also will be responsible for plugging up the holes so that Lewis can be stopped at the line of scrimmage.
Most importantly, New York’s offensive line must repeat its performance of last week against the Vikes. If Collins can stay in the pocket long enough for his receivers to run their routes, the Giants’ fairy tale will be complete and the glass slipper will fit – in the form of the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Pick: Giants 20, Ravens 13
When all is said and done Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens will leave the field victorious over the New York Giants. I foresee this outcome for several reasons:
As has remained quite clear throughout this season, the Ravens do not possess the NFL’s greatest offense, something that should remain evident this Sunday. On the other hand, while the Giants have a more seasoned and effective offense, the Ravens’ stingy defense should hold New York to no more than two touchdowns.
Baltimore will capitalize on opportunities, allowing for most likely one touchdown and three or four field goals, due to a somewhat lacking offense. When it’s all over, when all the cheering, bickering and back-and-forth arguments conclude as the game ends, Baltimore will undoubtedly come out victorious.
Pick: Ravens 19, Giants 16
In a never-been-seen-before move, the Ravens defensive players (in a move they said they had been planning all season) decide that they will play offense as well as defense.
That’s fine for Trent Dilfer, who spends the entire game on the sideline, coloring-in “I HATE TAMPA” posters. Surprisingly, with Ray Lewis at quarterback and with swift-footed Tony Siragusa at tailback, the Ravens score at will.
Unfortunately, Baltimore has no energy to play defense, and Kerry Collins and the Giants offense make them look foolish. Baltimore kicker Scott Norwood, who was found in Miami watching re-runs of Ace Ventura, Pet Detective just hours before the game, pushes a last second field goal to the right as the G-Men win. Laces Out!!!
– Giants 33, Ravens 32.3451