All bets are off on Super Sunday

RANDY CHEVRIER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

On Feb. 3, 2002, I sat behind a desk getting ready to provide my Super Bowl commentary for RDS, the French language version of TSN in Quebec.

That year, the Lombardi Trophy was going to either the St. Louis Rams or the New England Patriots.

As the bright studio lights came on, I felt the sweat building on my brow. Trying to look as professional as possible in my on-camera debut, I began discussing the upcoming tilt during our pre-game segment.

The Rams were heavily favoured that year as they rode "The Greatest Show on Turf" into the Super Bowl. Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner had won the past two NFL MVP awards.

On the flip side, the little-known Patriots entered the Super Bowl as huge underdogs. The only thing people seemed to mention about the Patriots at the time was Tom Brady, their "feel good story of the year" Brady, a sixth- round draft pick, had stepped in for veteran Drew Bledsoe early in the season and began writing history.

As the sweat poured down the side of my face, I went with the safe "on paper" pick and predicted the Rams would easily blow out the Patriots.

Although the Rams dominated the game offensively, they failed where it counted most -- in turnovers and final score. I was wrong. The Patriots' Super Bowl upset was the catalyst to the record-setting dynasty they have become.

Fast forward to 2008 and Super Bowl XLII, which pits the Patriots against the New York Giants, who are enjoying underdog status.

If the Patriots win, they'll cap a perfect 19-0 season and capture their fourth Super Bowl in the last seven years. A Giants' upset would end one team's quest for perfection and vindicate an underachieving quarterback and his overachieving team.

Led by a whole host of big-play guys, the Patriots could easily be mistaken for a Pro Bowl squad. With the likes of Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Laurence Maroney, the Pats have the most feared offence in the NFL.

Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi, and Junior Seau lead the charge on the other side of the ball. New England's defence has shown big-play capability when the team needed it.

But the Patriots kicking game has not had to win a game for them all year, which could prove costly if the game comes down to a field goal.

The Giants know the stakes and head to Arizona with little pressure on their shoulders. But make no mistake, they expect to win it all.

They have endured an up-and-down season complete with injury, inconsistency, and improbability.

If their win in Green Bay proved anything, it showed the G-Men are contenders. In their last game of the regular season against the Patriots, they showed they could go 12 rounds against the heavyweight champ.

Eli Manning is coming into his own as a pivot. He has shown he can make good decisions in big games and protect the football.

Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress have been impressive in the playoffs, providing Manning with a double receiving threat.

Defensively, the Giants front four is the best in the NFL. Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora will put lots of pressure on Brady.

The question is: Can the Giants' specialists build on their overtime heroics if needed? And does New York's coaching staff have an answer to everything the Patriots will throw at them?

Super Bowl Sunday taught me a few lessons in 2002.

If you sweat a lot, live television is not the place for you, and "on paper" is not the same as "on Sunday."

Anything can happen when the bright lights turn on.

Although the Patriots seem destined to rewrite the history books Sunday, I believe the game will be a closer affair than most think.

My head and heart tell me the Patriots are going to win 34-17, but my gut is telling me the Giants will take it 30-21.


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