Tom Brady Controls New England Patriots, Own Legacy in Super Bowl XLVI

Tom Brady Controls New England Patriots, Own Legacy in Super Bowl XLVIINDIANAPOLIS — The Super Bowl showdown between the Patriots and Giants can be broken down in a ton of different ways, especially with two weeks to lay it all out. But let's not make things more complicated than they need to be with this one.

Who's the biggest difference-maker? It starts right at the top with the best player on the field for either team.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will play the greatest role in the outcome of Super Bowl XLVI. If he plays well, it's almost unfathomable to think the Patriots could lose. But if he "sucks" again, it's going to be extremely difficult for the Patriots to overcome.

There are surely some other factors at play. The Patriots' defense will need to figure out a way to halt the Giants' explosive attack. And the New England offensive line absolutely must contain the Giants' ferocious front four to give Brady room to operate.

But Brady and his receivers can compensate if there's a lot of pressure by running quicker routes and quickening the pace of the game. They didn't do that in Week 9, presumably, because Brady was simply off his game. He short-armed some throws and missed open targets on passes that he always completes, which opened the speculation that he was battling an injury.

Brady's mistakes in the Ravens game were due to two poor decisions — otherwise, for the most part, he threw the ball well against a tough defense. The Giants have a tough defense, too, but it isn't as sturdy as Baltimore's unit.

Don't forget, the Patriots' offensive line has been pretty good. It's not a sieve by any stretch of the imagination, and even if they get beat a few times, Brady will have enough opportunities to move the ball down the field. They key, when he is pressured, is to make sure he doesn't turn it over.

This game could play out in so many ways, but there's only one difference maker, and that's the guy who could make a legitimate case to be the greatest quarterback in history by the end of the week.

Have a question for Jeff Howe? Send it to him via Twitter at @jeffphowe or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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