Greg Cosell, a senior producer at NFL Films Inc., predicted in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend, that the New York Giants will defeat the New England Patriots 27-24 in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.
(This is not a legal transcript. Bloomberg LP cannot guarantee its accuracy.)
AL HUNT: Welcome back. We’ll go to Margaret Carlson and Kate O’Beirne in a moment, but first, Super Bowl XLVI Sunday night. We usually interview the greatest NFL impresario and my high school classmate, the head of NFL Films, Steve Sabol. Filling in this year is his protégé, who Steve says is the best pro football analyst, Greg Cosell of NFL Films.
Greg, tell me, Sunday night, Tom Brady, who is one of the five greatest quarterbacks of all times, versus Eli Manning, who may be on the verge of getting there, who’s got the edge?
GREG COSELL: That’s a difficult question, Al. Look, Brady has a legacy that’s already in place. I think that Eli Manning doesn’t quite have that legacy, but it’s so interesting to me when you look at quarterbacks what happens, for instance, if David Tyree doesn’t catch that ball four years ago. Is Eli Manning’s potential legacy different?
But I think 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.
HUNT: They also have two great receiving corps. Now, assuming that Gronkowski is healthy, which team has the edge among receivers?
COSELL: Well, it’s a different receiving corps. If Gronkowski’s healthy, the Patriots are a two-tight-end-based offense, which, by the way, is also different from the Super Bowl a number of years ago when they were a three-wide-receiver-based offense.
The Giants, on the other hand, they do their best work with three wide receivers on the field, and Victor Cruz, an undrafted free agent, who’s become a dynamic slot receiver, and I think that’s a real troublesome element for the Patriots in this game.
HUNT: Greg, Tom Coughlin is a great coach. He’s just done a fabulous job this year. But Steve taught me that Belichick is the new Lombardi, a genius. What schemes or surprises might he have in store Sunday?
COSELL: Well, it’s funny you say that, because I’ve been just agonizing over how he’s going to handle the three wide receivers that we just talked about, because they’ve been playing with Julian Edelman, who’s a college quarterback, NFL wide receiver, as his slot corner to play receiver. And I’m just - I can’t get my arms around it, Al. Is he going with two weeks to prepare? Is Belichick going to play Julian Edelman in the slot over Victor Cruz? I can’t see that.
So I think Belichick will have something up his sleeve, maybe something like he did against Marshall Faulk in the Super Bowl, what, 10 years ago, what we call the bull’s-eye concept, where he tries to take care of Cruz in a specific way and then he can do other things with the other receivers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see something like that.
HUNT: Is there any other key match-up that you’re looking for on Sunday?
COSELL: Well, I’ll tell you one match-up that I don’t think will be as big as a lot of people think, and that’s the Giants’ defensive line versus the Patriots’, because I think if Gronkowski can go, when you play with two tight ends, Al, you have way more flexibility with your pass protection concepts. And therefore, I don’t think the Giants’ pass rush will be a game-changer the way a lot of people seem to think.
HUNT: Greg, the Giants, a month ago, they lost to the Redskins. We know how lowly the Redskins are. What happened? Why did they come back?
COSELL: Well, I think the Giants defensively have had a lot of ups and downs. They’ve had issues at the linebacker position with injuries and new players. Look, they’re starting in their base defense Chase Blackburn at middle linebacker, Al. They got him off the street this year, even though he’d been with them in previous years. So there were a lot of interchangeable and moving parts for the Giants’ defense, and I think they’ve sort of coalesced as this year has progressed, and they’re playing pretty good football.
I think their running game is another key factor, very poor this season, the worst in the NFL by the numbers. The last four, five weeks, while it’s not been great, it’s been efficient. It’s been a very good complement to the passing game.
HUNT: Greg, for the past 10 years, Sudden-Death Sabol has predicted the winner. Finally, he’s climbed above .500 the last couple of years. What’s the final score Sunday night?
COSELL: All right, Al, this is the moment of truth. I’m going to go Giants 27-24.
HUNT: Oh, boy, the New York Giants beating the New England Patriots. Greg Cosell, I’ll tell you something, the biggest compliment I can pay, you are a great substitute for Steve Sabol. Thank you so much, and we’ll be watching Sunday night.
COSELL: Thank you, Al. Appreciate it.
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