Let's take a look at the New England Patriots as the Patriots and New York Giants get ready to play in Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5 in Indianapolis. This will be a basic, if slightly off-beat, primer of what the New York sports fan needs to know about New England this time around.
1. The Patriots Are Still Ticked Off About 2008
The Giants, of course, ruined New England's perfect season in Super Bowl XLII. That 17-14 victory over the 18-0 Patriots still stings in New England -- as it should.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft and quarterback Tom Brady don't need to be reminded, and neither has ever watched the game.
"As time goes on, I still can't watch highlights from that game," Brady said Monday, in his weekly spot on Boston's WEEI radio.
Kraft agreed: "I've never been able to watch it."
Boston sports fans don't want to see it, either.
2. The Patriots Have A Weird Offense
They have a great offense, led by two-time Super Bowl MVP and three-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady, but it is a weird offense.
The Patriots use two tight ends almost all the time, and Rob Gronkowski (90 catches) and Aaron Hernandez (79 catches) are two of the primary weapons in their offense. They do crazy stuff like use Hernandez in the backfield, and actually give him the ball (eight postseason carries for 70 yards). They throw all sorts of short stuff to Wes Welker (122 catches), who is Victor Cruz without the salsa dance. They let one of their reserve wide receivers (Julian Edelman) play of a lot of cornerback. Shoot, he might be a better cornerback than receiver.
3. The Patriots Were Awful On Defense This Season
There are 32 teams in the NFL (in case you lost count) and the New England defense finished 31st in the league, allowing 411.1 yards per game. Weirdly (there is that word again) the Patriots were 15th in the league in points allowed, surrendering just 21.4 per game.
The Patriots have been better on defense in the postseason, surrendering only 325 yards and 15 points per game.
4. New England Has Three Players From Rutgers
Yep, three former Scarlet Knights have crossed to the dark side and play for the wrong team. Devin McCourty is a starting cornerback who just completed his second season, making 87 tackles, two interceptions and getting 12 passes defensed. Tiquan Underwood is a reserve wide receiver who played in six games and made three catches for 30 yards. Nate Jones is a reserve free safety who appeared in just five games.
We will try to have more on these guys as the game approaches. For now, though, let's just agree they are on the wrong side.
5. The Patriots Have Lots Of Guys With Goofy Names
BenJarvus Green-Ellis? What, they couldn't decide on his first or last name, so they gave him two of each? Ras-I Dowling? Another spelling-challenged first first name. Stephen Gostkowski and Rob Gronkowski? Thankfully, the placekicker and tight end aren't on the field at the game time. We wouldn't want tongue-twisted commentators. James Ihedigbo? Niko Koutouvides? Try to pronounce those quickly. Zoltan Mesko? Now, admittedly, Zoltan is a great name. But, who the heck came up with it and why? Chad Ochocinco? Well, he is a whole different story.