Super Bowl Prediction: Patriots Edge Out Giants

The undefeated New England Patriots face off against the New York Giants in the Super Bowl on Sunday. Howard Bryant offers his prediction for the big game's outcome: Patriots 38, Giants 24.

SCOTT SIMON: Time now for Howard - our own Howard Bryant joining us from member station WBUR in a burg they might soon be calling Titletown USA, home of the New England Patriots. Howard, thanks for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott. I think those folks in Green Bay are going to have a real problem with that, Titletown.

SIMON: But lets not get ahead of ourselves. Going to be two great coaches on the sidelines, but they're not going to be on the field. How do you see this game playing out?

BRYANT: Well, I think that the game is going to be a really good one. This is not going to be one of those games where team A loses its nerve after the first Super Bowl commercial, and before you know it they're down 21 to nothing. I think the Giants are a really good, solid team. They do things that are going to allow them to stay in the game. I think that they rush the quarterback really well. If they put pressure on Tom Brady and make him get rid of the ball instead of standing back there and baking a cake and writing letters to his mom…

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRYANT: I think they can really do something. But if he stands back there and dissects them, it's going to be a long, long day.

SIMON: The Giants have a really gifted pass receiver too in Plaxico Burress, don't they?

BRYANT: And he's the other guy. He's the game breaker. And that's… You can throw in the Patriots. If you watch their games, look at their defense, they're going to give you plays. And Burress is one of those guys who can break open a game. The thing with the Patriots has always been that they've always been one or two players better than the other team, and those two plays are usually really big plays, which is what blows games open.

SIMON: Of course, we have to talk about Tom Brady. The ankle brace the New York Post photographed him wearing, is that a distraction, was it a ruse? Sounds like the kind of thing Bill Belichick would do, yeah?

BRYANT: Well the thing to remember is that on Monday after a game, everybody's wearing some sort of brace or they're on crutches or they're in a sling. And you look at them and you say there's no way this guy's playing on Sunday. He looks like a mummy. But then by Friday they're at full speed and they're all ready to go.

SIMON: I mean this very sincerely. Could the Patriots be tired, just exhausted by all the pressure and attention?

BRYANT: Mentally, sure. Except for one thing. You get those two weeks off. And this team, I think that if they were a flash in the pan club, if they hadn't been here before so many times, you might say okay this is a game where they might be tight. Like for instance, the 1998 team the Minnesota Vikings, the team Randy Moss was on. And that team was 15 and one and they were supposed to go to the Super Bowl and they the NFC championship game at home and the whole thing and they just fell apart. They didn't play well. This team is a veteran team and they've been there and they've been tough. And the one thing that no one really talks about that I just think is going to be a really big difference is that the Patriots for the first time in two and a half months are going to be playing a game where weather is not a factor. The last time they played a game where it wasn't 20 degrees out and it wasn't 15 or 30 mile an hour winds was against Buffalo back in November and they won that game 56 to 10.

SIMON: All right Howard, to quote a great philosopher: Howard Bryant predictions.

BRYANT: My prediction is we're going to have a very close game for about a half maybe even more. And I think there's going to be a couple of plays that turn it into New England 38, New York 24.

SIMON: I'm going to say the Giants by three.

BRYANT: No, it's a good call.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Why not, right.

BRYANT: You know why it wouldn't surprise me? I just think that this team, they're just too close to it.

SIMON: And if the Patriots win completing an undefeated season, do you have to consider them the greatest team of all time?

BRYANT: No, I think you do. And I think that it would give me a world of satisfaction that we would no longer have to listen to Don Shula or Larry Csonka…

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRYANT: or anybody else from the 1972 Dolphins. Because what really kills me about listening to these guys is that that team went undefeated, but they weren't one of the greatest teams of all time. 1985 Bears were the most dominant defensive team I've ever seen. The 1989 49ers were the most dominant offensive team I've ever seen. And this Patriot team right here is just as good as either one of those.

SIMON: Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN.com, ESPN the magazine, and ESPN the floor wax.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Thanks. So enjoy the game, Howard.

BRYANT: My pleasure.

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