It is a score that Tom Brady and Eli Manning remember all too well, 20-17. This would be the final score of the Super Bowl in 2008, the last time the New England Patriots faced the New York Giants on the big stage. With both of the conference championships decided by three points in their respective games this season, it seems to be all about the number three.

Three keys that will decide the Super Bowl in 2012:

1. Play like an MVP. Both Tom Brady and Eli Manning are past Super Bowl MVP’s, and they need to play back at that level once more.

It will take a much stronger performance from Tom Brady. Not that putting up 17 points as a team is bad, but by Tom Brady standards, throwing two interceptions, and not passing for any touchdowns is almost unacceptable within the New England scheme.

As expected, Brady did hit six different receivers, including his two star tight ends for 13 catches and six receptions to Wes Welker. He will need to continue to spread the ball around, as the rushing attack will not be much of a factor against the Giants’ defense.

Eli Manning found breakout receiver, Victor Cruz, 10 times last game, for over 100 yards, but no touchdowns. Expect lots of targets again, with at least one touchdown from Cruz.

2. Stop the pass rush.
Protection around Brady was good, allowing only one sack against the Baltimore Ravens.
Eli Manning was not so fortunate in terms of protection, as he was sacked six times by San Francisco and hit an even dozen times.

3. Control the clock.
The Patriots and Giants are both capable of controlling the tempo of the game, and possessing the ball for long drives. So, whoever has the last possession wins this one.
My prediction is Giants by 3 with a final score of 31- 28.

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