EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 5, 2012

Fives are wild tonight

By Hector Longo
hlongo@eagletribune.com

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.

5 PATRIOTS WHO MUST DELIVER THE GOODS

1. Tom Brady — He has to be as his best, say 30 of 40, for 350 yards and three scores with no turnovers.

2. Brandon Spikes, Vince Wilfork — Basically the two guys who need to stop the Giants running game. If New York runs for 130 yards, it's wait till next year.

3. Devin McCourty — Cover somebody, something you haven't done all year.

4. Stephen Gostkowski — No misses on the big stage. A missed field goal is a brutal letdown.

5. Bill Belichick — Adjust, adapt, improvise ... be the Marine we know you are as a coach. No slip-ups, wasted timeouts, failures to kick 49-yard field goals on 4th and 11. Be at your best.

By Hector Longo

5 POTENTIAL UNSUNG HEROES

1. Danny Woodhead, Patriots — Slow the Giants pass rush down in the screen game. Hasn't been a great year for the little guy, time to step up.

2. Deion Branch, Patriots — Is there one more masterpiece left in his career?

3. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants — I fear him like no other Giant.

4. Mathias Kiwanuka, Giants — Maybe it's my memories of the havoc he wreaked at BC. The linebacker hybrid scares me.

5. Kyle Arrington, Patriots — With the way teams go at him, there are going to be plenty of opportunities.w