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Scouting report

The Baltimore Sun

Quarterbacks

Edge: Patriots

Eli Manning hasn't thrown an interception in 85 postseason passes, but Tom Brady is 14-2 in the playoffs, including 3-0 in the Super Bowl.

Running backs

Edge: Even

Laurence Maroney dominated in the AFC championship game, and Kevin Faulk has been the Patriots' unsung hero this season. The Giants' 1-2 punch of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw can be dangerous.

Wide receivers

Edge: Patriots

New England has the NFL's elite receiving group: Randy Moss is a touchdown machine, and Wes Welker is Brady's security blanket. New York's Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer are above average.

Tight ends

Edge: Patriots

Kevin Boss is more of a complete player than injured Jeremy Shockey. Still, New England's Benjamin Watson is a weapon in the red zone. (Two of his three catches in the playoffs have been for touchdowns.)

Offensive line

Edge: Patriots

Three New England linemen - left tackle Matt Light, left guard Logan Mankins and center Dan Koppen - are going to the Pro Bowl. New York's offensive line is underrated but nothing special.

Defensive line

Edge: Even

The Giants have scary pass rushers in Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck. The Patriots' defensive front - especially Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork - curtail the run.

Linebackers

Edge: Giants

New York middle linebacker Antonio Pierce is the backbone of the defense, and weak-side linebacker Kawika Mitchell has stepped up his play. New England's linebackers have begun to look old, although Mike Vrabel is a do-it-all player.

Secondary

Edge: Patriots

New England cornerback Asante Samuel is a ball magnet, and safety Rodney Harrison is a physical presence in the box. New York's defensive backfield is a weakness, but cornerback Corey Webster has played better lately.

Special teams

Edge: Even

Both teams have the potential to break long returns, especially on kickoffs with the Patriots' Ellis Hobbs and the Giants' Domenik Hixon. Both teams also have inconsistent kickers.

Coaching

Edge: Patriots

New England's Bill Belichick rarely loses when he has two weeks to prepare for a team. New York's Tom Coughlin was on the hot seat all season.

Intangibles

Edge: Patriots

New England has 20 players with Super Bowl experience. New York has three.

Prediction

Patriots, 34-17

Bad ankle or not, Brady is golden in the Super Bowl. He'll finish off a perfect season with a near flawless performance.

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