Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I wish to suggest, in a perplexing prolixity provided pro bono perhaps predictably, that Sunday's Super-bowl game between the Patriots of New England and the Giants of New York City, can be appropriately analyzed as analogous to the Assyrian empire of the 8th century BC and Michel Foucault's The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception. The Assyrian empire may, on the surface, appear to be not Syrian, much like the English words asymptomatic and asparagus, but it was, in fact, located in what is now Syria. The Assyrians are today best-known for having employed four-and-five-receiver sets on their way towards regional domination. They crushed opponents ruthlessly and were led by a slimeball of an emperor who aimed to win at all costs.

The Giants, needless to say, have no such historical parallel. They also come into the game as huge underdogs, and rightfully so. The Patriots are 18-0 and the Giants 13-6, though it is certainly worth noting that the Giants did not resort to cheating in winning any of those games. To the contrary, the Giants have sought to employ every legal disadvantage at their disposal, quarterback Eli Manning being the most prominent of these. Aside from the defensive line and running back positions, there is no area of the game at which the Giants are better. The Giants supposedly have momentum on their side after winning 3 playoff games on the road, but shouldn't New England have more after winning 18 games in a row, including a win over New York? The Giants are, as I intuited long ago, arguably the worst team to reach the Super Bowl.

The good news for all those who wish to preserve the integrity of the maxim "cheaters never win and winners never cheat" is--well, this is a game of professional football (don't let Eli Manning fool you) and anything can happen. The Giants do have a chance at winning this game. Any team that can pressure Tom Brady has a chance at beating the Patriots, as the Ravens and Eagles have shown. That keeps the game low-scoring, and low-scoring games against bad teams are close, if only by definition. The Giants must rely on their defensive line, which is very fast and as good as any in the league, and jam the receivers. We can assume that this unit will do the job. Is Eli Manning good enough to, then, complete his end of an upset? That requires a Brady-like performance: he needs to score touchdowns, not field goals, and he might need to score when he really needs to.

New York has won three playoff games by a total of 17 points, including its last two by a touchdown. They have beaten two of the four best offenses in the league in their stadia. However, their luck will run out on Sunday in what will be a close but relatively decisive contest. The crucial difference, I'm willing to bet, will be that the Giants will answer Patriot touchdowns with field goals. The Patriots, presciently named in 1959 for the nefarious 2001 legislation that gave the American government dictatorial powers of surveillance, will then win their fourth Super Bowl.

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