EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Patriots

February 5, 2012

Fives are wild tonight

INDIANAPOLIS — Since it is the fifth Super Bowl trip for the Patriots under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, we will consider fives wild as we take a look ahead to tonight's potential classic.

5 BEST BETS FOR MVP

1. Tom Brady — The ball is in his court. He has a watered-down AFC, a talented group of receivers and the best coach in history to help push him past Montana for the all-time best. The first step is today.

2. Eli Manning — The guy makes plays. Archie and his wife should have named him "Notyep," because he is the opposite of big brother Peyton.

3. Wes Welker — I figure him for a dozen catches and 135 yards. If he can add a touchdown or two, that will seal it.

4. Victor Cruz — Can you imagine the hysteria in Amherst if the ex-Minuteman knocks off the home team?

5. Aaron Hernandez — Gronk's ankle dictates that it's this guy's time to step up.

5 KEY MATCHUPS

1. David Baas vs. Vince Wilfork — This has to be a clear win for the Pats early, forcing David Diehl or Chris Snee to help out.

2. Jason Pierre-Paul vs. Matt Light — If the NBC production crew is smart, there is a camera on these two for every snap.

3. Kenny Phillips or Deon Grant vs. Rob Gronkowski — If they can single-cover the injured Gronk, the options are limitless for coverage on the other Patriots.

4. Greg Jones vs. New England's runners — New York's middle linebacker will be tested by BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead and potentially even Stevan Ridley, not just on the ground but in the passing game.

5. Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora vs. Logan Mankins, Brian Waters — When speed rushers move inside, it causes the Pats serious problems. New England's two guards have to handle these two.

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