Editor's note: Big Blue View and NESN.com are teaming up for a Super Bowl edition of Across Enemy Lines. Jeff Howe answered their Patriots questions, and Sean Kerr from Big Blue View answered our Giants questions. Below are Sean's answers.
The city is brimming with excitement. The sporting outlets are completely sold out of New York Giants jerseys. Yes, Super Bowl fever has taken hold of New Yorkers everywhere. I imagine it is quite similar up north, as I know the pride that New Englanders have in their team.
I frequently venture up I-95 and spend time at the Red Parrot in Newport, Estoril's in Fall River and DiMillo's in Portland. I am no stranger to Waterfire in Providence or concerts at the Comcast Center — or Gillette Stadium, for that matter. New England is a second home for this native New Yorker. But for some reason, I get the hardest looks and nastiest comments whenever I wear my blue, leather Giants jacket up that way. The jacket has the patches from every Super Bowl that the Giants ever won sewn into it, including Super Bowl XLII.
Window-shopping in New England is an experience that every Giants fan might find interesting. In many of the shops up north you will find a certain 18-0 Patriots sticker in the windows. For Tom Brady and New England Patriots fans, Sunday will be more than just a Super Bowl game. It will be an opportunity for vengeance and glory. On the other hand, it could turn out to be more gut-wrenching than that one-Giant loss.
When the NESN.com editorial staff asked for my opinion, I was more than happy to oblige. Who am I? I am a New Yorker, a Giants fan and a writer for the BigBlueView, New York's leading Giants blog. I like quahogs, too.
NESN.com: Who is the Giants' best defensive player in their back seven?
Kerr: If we're strictly speaking about the postseason, I would have to go with Michael Boley. He has been doing it all. His reads have been top notch. Boley has been effective against the run. He has limited anything thrown in his direction and has been getting to the quarterback. This is exactly what you want out of your linebackers at this stage of the season.
Simply put, he is playing his best football right now. The defensive backs have been doing a great job — not to take away from what they have been doing — but Boley just seems to be everywhere that the action is. If it weren't for his success as a pass rusher in the postseason, I would have had to take a closer look at this. Chase Blackburn has been doing a phenomenal job, as well.
NESN.com: Tom Coughlin seemingly gets fired by the fans or media every season. Why does he get such a tough shake?
Kerr: The New York fans and media didn't just fire Coughlin. They had Perry Fewell and Kevin Gilbride six feet under right next to him.
New York can be a very unforgiving town. I think the expectations are quite high, considering the history of this team. The frustration level since 2007 has been staggering. The talent has been on this team all along. The Giants had a tremendous season in 2008, only to lose in the first round of the playoffs. In 2009, they got off to a 5-0 start, but finished 8-8. Last season, they had their destiny in their own hands and let it slip through their fingers.
When you have a wealth of talent on a team and the players' performance is not up to snuff, the questions start to brew. The fingers start to point, and the call for pink slips begin to get patched through. Luckily, the front office of the Giants organization has a little more insight. This New York team would not be where it is today, one win away from the Lombardi Trophy, if it weren't for this particular coaching staff.
NESN.com: How confident are you in Eli Manning on Sunday?
Kerr: My confidence level in Eli Manning is at an all-time high. He didn't come into the league as a polished professional. He was a work in progress. For years, I watched him shows signs of brilliance. I also witnessed things from him that made me question how he was ever drafted. I think every young quarterback has his growing pains to go through. Eli has certainly gone through them. The whole "elite" debate from the beginning of the year has been put to an end. Eli has definitely shown growth, poise and an uncanny talent for winning the big games. Today, he is certainly as polished as the first Lombardi Trophy he won back in 2007.
NESN.com: Aside from Tom Brady, what concerns you the most about the Patriots?
Kerr: Bill Belichick, of course.
Seriously, the left side of New England's front seven is something any offensive coordinator would need to prepare for. The trio of Vince Wilfork, Andre Carter and Rob Ninkovich is like the Bermuda Triangle of the gridiron. Of course, it is not as effective with Carter out, but Mark Anderson has been doing a good job of filling in. In my Super Bowl XLVI Scouting Report, I break down both teams and share my thoughts on the Patriots by position.
NESN.com: What is your prediction for Super Bowl XLVI?
Kerr: As I said in my Super Bowl XLVI prediction/analysis piece, I think the Giants will win this game, hands down. Many believe that this will be a close game. I don't see things that way. I see a New York Giants team that has been on fire over the last five games. They've beaten the best of the best during this last stretch, putting out their best team performances of the year. Ticker tape parade to follow — in New York, of course. Check out my prediction/analysis piece for my score and more.
NESN.com: How does this Giants team stack up against the one from 2007?
Kerr: The 2011 Giants still have the same nucleus as the 2007 Giants. Are they the same team? Certainly not. There are some key additions that make this team far more dangerous than they were in Super Bowl XLII — Jason Pierre-Paul, for instance.
You have Eli Manning playing better than he ever has. To gauge what this team is, all one needs to do is look at the last two teams that they beat in the playoffs. The Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers were better than any playoff team that the G-Men faced in 2007. The Giants finished with a 9-7 record — same as in '07. But what they have done over the last five games guarantees each and every one of these New York Giants a spot on the All-Madden team. It is safe to say that this New York team left many a team, player and fan base more than just a little bit disgruntled, as any Patriots fan can attest to.
You can follow Sean Kerr on Twitter at @SeanTheGman