Giants CB Corey Webster vs. Patriots WR Randy Moss – No, of course no one's going to be able to totally shut down Moss, but Webster has played so well this postseason that he's New York's best bet to keep Moss from killing Big Blue, as he did the first time around. Webster is now playing the physical style that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo advocates and it's been paying dividends for the former second-round pick. Moss is an absolute beast that caught 98 passes for 1,493 yards and an NFL record 23 TDs during the year. The Giants' only hopes of slowing him down are by playing a very physical style against him and knocking him around. Webster, who has the size and strength to at least give Moss a run, must play him tough the first five yards off the line as he's done to some other pretty good receivers during New York's Super Bowl run.
Giants RDE Osi Umenyiora vs. Patriots LT Matt Light – While the stats show that Umenyiora has had kind of a quiet postseason, that couldn't be further from the truth. He was New York's best lineman in Green Bay and has the speed to get around the somewhat slow-footed Light. At 6-4, 305, the seventh-year veteran out of Purdue has the size to manhandle Umenyiora – if he can get his hands on him. The Giants defensive line as a whole absolutely must get pressure on Tom Brady. But the key cog for that plan to come to fruition is if Umenyiora's able to make hay like he did against Favre and Co. With Brady's superb ability to pick up hot reads and adjust to blitzes, it's paramount that the Giants front four get as much pressure on their own without as much help from blitzes as they've had in the past. That will all start with Umenyiora, who's headed to his second Pro Bowl after the Super Bowl.
Giants WR Plaxico Burress vs. Patriots CB Asante Samuel – There's a reason that TGI makes mention every time Samuel comes available as a free agent – he's that good. But Burress was flat-out unstoppable in Green Bay. Al Harris is no slouch, yet Burress turned him inside out all game long. The Giants offense needs Burress to come up big. The Pats know that shutting him down is likely the key to silencing Eli Manning and the New York passing game, although Big Blue did survive in Dallas despite getting only one catch from Plax. Plax likes to play the physical game, especially with his superb height and leaping ability. Samuel is a smooth corner, but is certainly capable of trading blows as well. This one should be fun to watch.
Giants MLB Antonio Pierce vs. Patriots RB Laurence Maroney – To put it simply, Pierce is the glue that holds New York's defense together. The problem is Maroney seems to carry the kryptonite necessary to tear opposing defenses apart. The 5-11, 200-pounder has the speed and cutting ability to leave would-be tacklers in his dust. But he also has the power and strength to barrel them over, if need be. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry. Pierce has led a Giants run defense that has done a great job against the run in the postseason. Pierce's six solo tackles were instrumental in helping Big Blue hold the Packers to only 28 rushing yards. He also made one of the game's biggest stops, totally blowing up a screen before it could develop into a big play. Maroney hasn't been much of a receiver this season, but that doesn't mean that the Pats won't try to slip him a pass or two and attempt to catch the Giants napping. It'd be surprising if Pierce allows that to happen.
Giants C Shaun O'Hara vs. Patriots NT Vince Wilfork – Most Giants will remember Wilfork for getting frustrated and poking Brandon Jacobs in the eye during the season finale. All that accomplished was Wilfork paying a steep fine and looking like a classless jerk in the process. However, the fourth-year man-mountain from Miami can play at quite a high level. He's been the key to New England being able to shut down opposing running games with regularity. It's going to fall on O'Hara to keep him from occupying more than just Big Blue's center. If O'Hara can handle Wilfork by himself for the most part, it will allow New York's other O-linemen to help out elsewhere on the line and downfield as well. This will be one of the under-the-radar matchups that will go a long way toward determining which side will bring home the hardware.
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