Super Bowl preview
Brady and Manning go head-to-head in Indie
By Alex Williams - Twitter: @skysportsalexw. Last Updated: 05/02/12 2:53pm
The New England Patriots will be out to avenge one of the most dramatic upsets in NFL history when they take on the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday night.
Four years ago, the Giants thwarted New England's hopes of a perfect season when they claimed a 17-14 win to secure the NFL title, and head coach Tom Coughlin will be bidding for a repeat in Indianapolis.
At 9-7, their regular season record this time around was even worse than four years ago and they needed a victory over the Dallas Cowboys on the final day of the campaign to even make the play-offs.
However, they have once again seemed to hit peak form at the perfect time and head into the contest as just slight underdogs, a contrast to their 12-point handicap in the betting markets in 2008.
Coughlin's major injury worry has been over Ahmad Bradshaw, but the running back is expected to suit up after being listed as probable on the injury report.
The Giants' defensive line has made no bones over their intention to rattle New England's star quarterback Tom Brady, with Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora set to be at the forefront of their fearsome pass rush.
Quarterback Eli Manning has impressed many with his clutch play during the post-season and few doubt that he can again rise to the occasion, especially with the explosive receiving trio of Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham at his disposal.
Both Eli and Patriots signal-caller Brady have famous ties to Peyton Manning; the usual star of the show at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Eli is statistically an inferior player to his older brother but can surpass him in the Super Bowl rings column with a win on Sunday, while Brady - Peyton's long-time rival for the title of best quarterback in the league - is looking for his fourth Lombardi Trophy.
Brady turned himself from a sixth-round draft pick into a global superstar when he won three Super Bowl titles in four years at the start of the century, but he and the Patriots have not tasted the ultimate success for seven years.
Bill Belichick's side finished the regular season with a 13-3 record and the top seed in the AFC before defeating the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens to progress to the Super Bowl.
Despite their impressive form, question marks remain over their defence, which finished the season ranked second-to-last in the NFL and will be given a stern test by the firepower the Giants have in their receiving corps.
The Patriots' own high-powered offence has been centred around tight end Rob Gronkowski for much of the year, with the 22-year-old setting numerous records over the course of the season.
And it is Gronkowski's injury status that has dominated much of the headlines in the build-up to Sunday's clash after he suffered a high-ankle sprain against Baltimore in the AFC Championship Game.
Gronkowski returned to practice on Thursday and is expected to play on Sunday, but it is not clear if his participation will be limited due to the injury.
A total of 10 other players are listed as questionable, including wide receiver Wes Welker and linebacker Brandon Spikes, but they are all expected to be available, as right tackle Sebastian Vollmer and guard Logan Mankins could return after missing all of the play-offs thus far.