American Football: WHERE THE GAME WILL BE WON AND LOST
Super Bowl XXXI New England Patriots v Green Bay Packers Preview by Matt Tench
Monday 20 January 1997
Patriots end Willie McGinest has had an excellent year and was brilliant in the AFC Championship game against the Jaguars. His speed and persistence make him the most dangerous threat if Favre lingers too long in the pocket. Expect Bill Parcells to go after the Packers quarterback with all manner of sophisticated blitzes. Favre is used to having a bounty on his head, though, and should be able to exploit the gaps such an aggressive policy involves.
Curtis Martin v the Packers' rushing defense
This battle may be decided early on and could determine the outcome of the Super Bowl. Martin made found some stunning holes in Pittsburgh's normally miserly defense in the early stages of their play-off game and the Patriots went on to a comfortable victory. He was less effective against the Jaguars. Expect the Pack to stack against the run from the start and challenge Drew Bledsoe to throw his team to victory.
Special teams: Bill Parcells v Desmond Howard
Both teams will feel they have the edge. The Patriots unit, coached by Parcells, came up with several very big plays in the victory over the Jags and he likes to catch his opponents out in this, as in every other area of play. A fake field goal perhaps? For the Pack Desmond Howard, Heisman Trophy winner but until recently a NFL misfit, has been in prime form on punt returns, two of which virtually won them the play-off game against the 49ers in the first quarter.
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