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New England Patriots vs. New York Giants Preview and Prediction

Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick

The undefeated New England Patriots take on the New York Giants in a rematch of Super Bowls XLII and XLVI, as New England looks for its first win over Eli Manning since 2007's 16-0 clincher.

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The Patriots are 8-0 for the first time since that 2007 season, but injuries continue to hit them hard. Last weekend the Pats lost the dynamic Dion Lewis for the season with an ACL tear, while tackle Sebastian Vollmer left the game with a concussion. If Vollmer can't go on Sunday the Pats will be down to their third and fourth tackles on the depth chart, with Nate Solder already on IR and Marcus Cannon missing for the last month with a toe injury.

The Giants are the model of inconsistency that they always seem to be. On one hand they lead the league in turnover differential and are fifth in points scored. On the other hand they're 31st in passing defense and 19th in points allowed per game. Still, after an 0-2 start the Giants have won five of their last seven and sit in first place in the NFC East.

There's plenty of history between these two teams, though they haven't played since Super Bowl XLVI. This should be another one of their patented down-to-the-last-drive affairs.

New England at New York

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET (Sunday)


Line: Patriots -7

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Three Things to Watch

1. Can the Pats take away Odell Beckham Jr.?

Beckham leads the Giants with 59 catches for 759 yards and seven touchdowns. Since Bill Belichick is known to take away an opponent's biggest strength, it's likely that his gameplan for the Giants starts with Beckham. Does he put his best corner Malcolm Butler on Beckham? Or does it make more sense to put Logan Ryan on him with some safety help? Either way, you can expect Belichick to force Eli to beat them with Rueben Randle and former Patriot Shane Vereen.

2. Can Giants' pass defense stop Tom Brady?

The Giants were torched for over 500 passing yards by Drew Brees two weeks ago and now face a potentially more daunting task of stopping Tom Brady and friends. The wild card is the same as it was in both Super Bowls these teams played — superior defensive line play can make up for any secondary. If the Patriots are down to Cameron Fleming at left tackle and a converted guard/center like Bryan Stork at right tackle, can the Giants get to Brady as early and often as they did in the Super Bowl? That might be their only chance of slowing down the Patriots' offense.

3. Last drive yet again?

Both Super Bowls were defined by end-of-game touchdown drives that won the game for the Giants. This was also the case when the two teams met in Foxborough during the 2011 regular season. For whatever reason the Giants have been the one team that seem to have the Patriots' number, and every time Eli Manning has gotten a chance for a late comeback against them, he's made it happen. Could this one come down to that yet again? And if so will there be another miracle catch like David Tyree's in Super Bowl XLII? Or another pinpoint sideline pass like Manning had to Mario Manningham in Super Bowl XLVI? Or will this be the time New England's newly improved defense comes through with a game-clinching stop?

Final Analysis

The Patriots have a number of issues right now that are all bubbling just below the surface. Their offensive line has been decimated and they just lost their best running back for the season, but since they're 8-0 none of these have entered the discourse as a "fatal flaw". It seems like only a matter of time until they have a flat game where their offensive line is out of sync and they have no running game to counter a relentless pass rush. That sounds like the set up for how both Super Bowls went, so the curse of Eli and the Giants continues for the Patriots.

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Prediction: Giants 24, Patriots 20

— Written by Mike Dussault, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and writer/editor of (@PatsPropaganda), a comprehensive blog covering the New England Patriots.