Cosell, in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt” airing this weekend, said he expects the Giants to win 27-24 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. A factor will be the improved play of Manning versus Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, whose legacy of greatness is “already in place,” Cosell said.
“Eli Manning this year has improved dramatically as a quarterback, and I think as we enter the game, right now, he’s playing better football than Tom Brady,” Cosell said.
The Giants’ offense, which relies heavily on three pass receivers, may confound New England coach Bill Belichick, Cosell said.
“I’ve been just agonizing over how he will be handling the three wide receivers,” Cosell said. “I think Belichick will have something up his sleeve,” possibly targeting the Giants’ “dynamic” wide receiver Victor Cruz and letting the other defenders worry about the other two, he said.
The betting line at Caesars Entertainment Corp (HET).’s Las Vegas casinos favored the Patriots by 3 points, according to vegasinsider.com, a website specializing in sports gambling information.
The Giants, 7-7 before winning their last two regular season games and three playoff contests, have improved their defense and their running game, Cosell said.
“They’ve sort of coalesced as this year has progressed, and they’re playing pretty good football,” he said.
Two Tight Ends
The advantage for New England, 13-3 during the regular season, is a two tight-end offense, Cosell said. Because of that, the Giants’ pass rush, an important factor in its playoff victories, won’t be a deciding factor this time, he said.
“When you play with two tight ends, you have way more flexibility with your pass protection concepts,” Cosell said. “Therefore, I don’t think the Giants’ pass rush will be a game- changer the way a lot of people seem to think.”
Cosell, a nephew of the late sportscaster Howard Cosell, has spent more than a quarter century with NFL Films. He is executive producer of NFL Matchup, which airs Sundays on ESPN, and a contributor to NFL Films’ pro football blog.
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