The easiest way to sound smart when talking about football — and the best way to get people who really know football to roll their eyes at you — is to harp on the importance of protecting the quarterback.
The Giants plan to put pressure on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, which will elicit a "duh" from just about every reader. Next to "establish the run game," "pressure the quarterback" is about the most obvious cliche in the game.
At the risk of drawing a few of those eye-rolls, the Patriots' only chance in Super Bowl XLVI is to keep the Giants' relentless rotation of defensive ends away from Brady, so right tackle Nate Solder and left tackle Matt Light will be the difference-makers for the Patriots. As it always is with offensive linemen, the less we hear their names on Sunday, the better it will be for the Patriots.
Few teams have a foursome of ends like the Giants' Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Dave Tollefson. Each player had at least five sacks during the regular season, with Pierre-Paul leading the way with 16.5. They combined for 35.5 sacks, accounting for almost three-quarters of New York's 48 sacks, the fourth-highest total in the league.
The pressure on Brady was the biggest reason the Patriots were beaten in Super Bowl XLII and was one of the major reasons the Giants won the matchup back in Week 9 of this season. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell likes to rush with just four defenders, so the ends could do a good deal of damage if Solder and Light don't come to play.