Behind The Scenes

Everyone has an opinion on SB XLVI

INDIANAPOLIS — ESPN on-air personalities offer their predictions for Super Bowl XLVI. Of the 34 ESPN picks, 17 chose the Patriots and 17 selected the Giants as the anticipated winner of this year’s Super Bowl game in Indianapolis:

Picking the Patriots:

Chris Berman, Host, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown: 27-23: “Much respect to the Giants, but I think Tom Brady is ready to top even himself.”

Tedy Bruschi, NFL Live analyst and three-time Super Bowl champion linebacker with the Patriots: 27-24: “Stephen Gostowski writes his name next to Adam Vinatieri in the book of Super Bowl heroes with a game-winning kick as time expires.”

John Clayton, senior NFL writer: 24-20: “It’s hard to beat Tom Brady three times in a row at his game of comeback football in the fourth quarter. Though I worry about the Patriots’ defense, I think Brady and Bill Belichick will find a way to squeak out a victory.”

Colin Cowherd, Host, ESPN Radio’s The Herd: 28-27: “The media coverage and the tenor of the Super Bowl has been overwhelmingly New York, and I sense an upset.”

Trent Dilfer, Monday Night Countdown analyst and Super Bowl champion quarterback: 28-27: “My brain tells me the matchups are in the Giants’ favor, but my gut tells me the revenge factor wins out.”

Herm Edwards, NFL Live analyst: 31-27: “From what I’ve seen the past five weeks, the Giants are the best team going into this game, BUT it’s going to boil down to red zone offense. I see Tom Brady throwing four touchdowns and Eli Manning throwing three.”

Jon Gruden, Monday Night Football analyst and Super Bowl champion coach: 30-27: “I don’t think you can get Tom Brady twice in the same game.”

Tim Hasselbeck NFL Live analyst: 27-24: “Even though I see this as a bad matchup for the Patriots, I believe their ability to control the tempo on offense will be the difference in the game and will prevent Tom Brady from getting hit too often.”

Eric Mangini, NFL Live and First Take analyst, and former assistant coach with the Super Bowl champion Patriots: 34-31: “The Giants have become the trendy pick and I understand why. Tom Brady, however, is going to have better answers to the problems New York can create and he will take advantage of the Giants’ inconsistent disguise. Both teams will score a lot of points and it will probably come down to who has the ball last.”

Kenny Mayne, Sunday NFL Countdown contributor: 31-30: “I take New England by one point because that’s the minimum a team can win by and I see it as a pick ’em game. If Ed Hochuli can explain in 30 minutes or fewer how a team can win by less than a point I will believe him and make that my prediction.”

Sal Paolantonio, NFL correspondent: 31-27: “We’re in the middle of a trilogy. Super Bowl XLII was a new hope, and you can’t have a ‘Return of the Jedi’ without the ‘Empire Strikes Back’.”

Ryen Russillo, Scott Van Pelt Show co-host: 24-20: “The Patriots will have a similar game plan to what they did against Baltimore to neutralize the Giants’ front.”

Adam Schefter, NFL Insider: 27-16: “The Giants are the better and more complete team. But they also have to figure out a way to beat Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the memory of Myra Kraft.”

Mark Schlereth, NFL Live analyst and three-time Super Bowl champion: 27-24: “Everything points to the New York Giants but Bill Belichick will have a one-back plan that attacks the Giants’ NASCAR front and keeps pressure off Brady.”

Mike Tirico, Monday Night Football play-by-play commentator: 28-22: “It’s hard for me to think that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will lose their second Super Bowl in four years to the Giants.”

Scott Van Pelt, SportsCenter anchor and ESPN Radio host: 23-20: “The entire basis of this pick is Tom Brady and that’s ridiculous.”

Trey Wingo, NFL Live and NFL PrimeTime host: 27-24: “Every matchup favors the Giants, so of course I’m going with the Patriots.”

Picking the Giants:

Michelle Beadle, Co-host, SportsNation: 28-25: “The Giants will ride the momentum train and the backs of their defense — and I don’t like the Patriots.”

Cris Carter, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown analyst: 27-24: “All I can say is ‘salsa’.”

Mike Ditka, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown analyst: 24-17: “The Giants are better on both sides of the ball, and the Patriots are going to have a tough time scoring a lot of points against this defense.”

Mike Golic, NFL Live analyst and co-host of ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning: 24-20: “Right now the Giants are playing better than the Patriots, and I think they’re a more balanced team. It could come down to who has the ball last, but I have a lot of faith in Eli if they have the ball last to do what he did in week 9 against the Patriots.”

Mike Greenberg, co-host of ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning and SportsCenter anchor: 34-20: “I like the Giants in a big way – a big way for Big Blue. They are the healthier team, and that’s the most important factor. They’re the hotter team, and, frankly, they’re the better team. I like the Giants and I don’t think it’s that close.”

Merril Hoge, NFL Live, NFL Matchup and NFL PrimeTime analyst: 27-20: “The NFL is about matchups and all the matchups are in the Giants’ favor, and they just need to execute.”

Gary Horton, ESPN Scouts Inc.: 23-17: “The difference in this game is the evolving three-wide receiver package the we didn’t see early on. The Giants can match the Patriots offensive explosiveness and they are playing at a higher level.”

Tom Jackson, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown analyst: 24-20: “All of the emotional intangibles are in the Patriots’ favor but I believe the Giants are a better football team – and a healthier team.”

Ron Jaworski, Monday Night Football and NFL Matchup analyst: 27-21: “Eli’s on a roll and Hakeem Nicks has a big game against the Patriots’ makeshift secondary.”

Suzy Kolber, NFL32 host: 27-24: “Finally healthy, the Giants defense is the force they hoped it would be before the season started. Their unique pass rushing ability can get Brady off his mark. Offensively, no quarterback has been more clutch this season than Eli Manning and he’s complimented by two additional weapons that weren’t available to him when they beat the Patriots in week 9.”

Steve Levy, SportsCenter anchor: 31-30: “Eli is now just as cool as Brady, although in a different way.”

Chris Mortensen, NFL senior analyst and NFL32 co-host: 34-24: “Everybody wants to talk about the last time these two teams played in the Super Bowl. That’s irrelevant. This time the Giants are just the better team. They have played a tougher schedule and are more battle-tested.”

Antonio Pierce, NFL Live analyst and Super Bowl XLII champion with the New York Giants: 29-27: “Eli Manning in the fourth quarter doing what he has done all year long – throw a game-winning touchdown.”

Rick Reilly, Contributor, Monday Night Countdown: 25-24: “Sixty-five thousand people will learn to salsa at Lucas Oil Stadium.”

Jerry Rice, NFL Live analyst and four-time Super Bowl champion: 28-21: “The Giants are too strong on defense with Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Osi Umenyiora, who hopefully shows up for the football game. Also, the Patriots don’t have the secondary to keep up.”

Stuart Scott, Anchor, SportsCenter, and Co-Host, Monday Night Countdown: 31-27: “I always expect greatness out of Tom Brady, but I just don’t know how New England’s secondary is going to contain Manningham, Cruz and Nicks.”

Damien Woody, NFL Live analyst and two-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots: 27-24: “The Giants have two things in their favor: a hot quarterback in Eli Manning that can expose a poor New England secondary and a pass rush that can get after Tom Brady.”

Game predictions for ESPN’s Keyshawn Johnson, Bill Parcells and Steve Young will be revealed during this weekend’s Super Bowl Sunday edition of Sunday NFL Countdown (10 a.m. ET).

Other ESPN predictions… writers:
Dan Graziano, NFC East blogger: Giants, 31-24:
“The Giants weren’t the best team in the NFL for most of this season, but they have been for the past six weeks. Eli Manning should torch an overmatched New England secondary. Frankly, the Giants’ past two opponents were tougher than this one.”

James Walker, AFC East blogger: Patriots, 27-24:
“I picked the Patriots in the preseason, so there’s no point in backing out now. I doubt Tom Brady will have two bad games in a row, especially against an inconsistent Giants secondary.”

Kevin Seifert, NFC North blogger: Giants, 27-21:
“The Giants’ defensive line overpowered the Patriots four years ago and is in position to do the same Sunday.”

Jamison Hensley, AFC North blogger: Patriots, 31-20:
“Tom Brady didn’t play well in the AFC Championship game and he remembers losing to the Giants in the Super Bowl four years ago. A motivated Brady is a dangerous one. He will prove that you don’t need a defense to win a ring.”

Pat Yasinskas, NFC South blogger: Giants, 28-24:
“Most people think Bill Belichick is the best coach in the world. I think Tom Coughlin’s at least as good and a victory against Belichick will open the way for Coughlin to get the recognition he deserves.”

Paul Kuharsky, AFC South blogger: Giants, 27-23:
“Hardly rocket science, but I envision the New York pass rush and the New England pass defense being the biggest factors in the game. Still, with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady cast as ‘underdogs’, the Patriots are scary.”

Mike Sando, NFC West blogger: Patriots, 27-23:
“I’ll stick with my preseason prediction/guess, so New England, it is. But all the pressure is on the Patriots, same as four years ago.”

Bill Williamson, AFC West blogger: Patriots, 27-17:
“Eli Manning won’t grab another Super Bowl ring on Tom Brady’s watch. Brady adds to his legacy as one of the best Super Bowl performers of all time with a masterful performance against a strong defense.”

Jeffri Chadiha, National NFL writer: Giants, 28-24:
“New York has enough defense to control Tom Brady and Co. New England can’t say the same when it comes to stopping the Giants’ balanced offense.”

Ashley Fox, National NFL writer: Giants, 27-24:
“The Giants are on a Packers-esque roll and the Patriots haven’t lit the playoffs on fire. Manning will torch the New England secondary to get his second ring in big brother’s house.”

Greg Garber, senior writer: Giants, 16-13:
“Revenge is swee — oh, wait. Giants’ defense is marginally better than the Patriots’.”

Mike Reiss, Patriots writer: Patriots, 30-20:
This reminds me of the Nov. 13 game at the Jets, a contest in which many predicted trouble for the Patriots but the team came through. I think they do it again. While there is respect for the Giants’ pass rush, it’s not like opponents have been completely shut down by the unit. I expect some points from a faster-paced attack and quarterback Tom Brady to play better and limit mistakes. On the opposite side, the improved defense limits the run and forces Eli Manning into some long-yardage situations and that’s when the Patriots can dial up some pressure. Promises to be a good one.

Ohm Youngmisuk, Giants writer: Giants, 31-27:
“Eli Manning is a better quarterback than he was in SB XLII. He also has more dangerous receivers. The Patriots won’t be able to stop Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz or Mario Manningham — someone will be open — and they don’t want to give Manning the ball for a last-minute drive again. Much of the attention has been on the Giants pass rush but the secondary and linebackers will come up big like it did against Green Bay.”

Rich Cimini, NFL writer: Giants, 31-27:
“The Giants are more balanced on both sides of the ball. Eli Manning should pick apart the Patriots’ patchwork secondary, but don’t be surprised if the running game — Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs — emerges as the story.”

*** To view more ESPN expert picks, visit by clicking here.

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