* Who: New England (18-0) vs.
New York Giants (13-6)
* When, where: Today, 3:15 PST, Glendale, Ariz.
* On the air: Channel 11
*--* HOW THEY MATCH UP *--*
*--* NYG CATEGORY NE 23.3 (14) Pts. scored 36.8 (1) 21.9 (17) Pts. given up 17.1 (4) 197.1 (21) Passing off. 295.7 (1) 134.2 (4) Rushing off. 115.6 (13) 44 (11) Touchdowns 75 (1) 207.3 (11) Passing def. 190.1 (6) 97.7 (8) Rushing def. 98.2 (10) 15 (20t) Interceptions 19 (6t) 53 (1) Sacks 47 (2) 77 (27) Penalties 78 (25) *--*
* Patriots rushing offense vs. Giants rushing defense: The Patriots passing game gets all the attention, but running backs Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk have been the keys to their playoff run. Maroney has 244 yards rushing in two playoff games and the Patriots are averaging 147 yards on the ground in the postseason. Giants tackle Fred Robbins is the run stopper on a line more known for its pass rush. Middle linebacker Antonio Pierce heads a bruising linebacker crew that hits hard, but doesn't have a lot of speed. The Giants gave up 97.7 yards a game rushing during the regular season, but that's down to 83.6 in the postseason. Edge: Giants.
* Patriots passing offense vs. Giants passing defense: Tom Brady and Randy Moss put up the gaudy stats that made the Patriots the most prolific offensive team in NFL history with 589 points scored. They scored 50 of their 67 offensive touchdowns through the air. A key was an offensive line with three All-Pros that gave up only 24 sacks. Also, Faulk is an excellent pass-catcher out of the backfield and sure-handed Wes Welker tied for the league lead with 112 receptions. The Giants rely on a pass rush that led the NFL with 53 sacks. Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan must get quick pressure because the Giants' secondary is average. Edge: Patriots.
* Special teams: Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes has been solid this season, making 23 of 27 field-goal attempts, including all eight from more than 40 yards. New England's Steven Gostkowski made 21 of 24 attempts but doesn't have quite the range. Kick returners Ellis Hobbs of the Patriots and Ahmad Bradshaw of the Giants have nearly identical statistics, though Hobbs does have a return touchdown. Veteran Giants punter Jeff Feagles had only 28 of his 71 punts returned. New England punter Chris Hanson punted only 44 times all season and averaged 41.4 yards. Edge: Giants.
* Giants rushing offense vs. Patriots rushing defense: At 6 feet 4, 264 pounds, Giants running back Brandon Jacobs is a load. He's a power runner but also has speed to get outside, which is where he likes to go so he can bowl over defensive backs. The strength of the Giants offensive line is run blocking and the team averaged 134.2 yards rushing this season -- fourth in the NFL. Veteran linebackers Junior Seau and Mike Vrabel are good at reading plays and always seem to be in the right place at the right time. The Patriots held the Jacksonville Jaguars, the AFC's top rushing team, to 80 yards rushing in the divisional round. Edge: Giants.
* Giants passing offense vs. Patriots passing defense: Eli Manning has undergone a transformation in the playoffs, passing for four touchdowns without an interception. Top receiver Plaxico Burress is averaging 12.1 yards a catch in the postseason and his 6-5 1/2 height causes matchup problems. The Giants use a controlled passing attack, but Amani Toomer has the speed to go deep. Pro Bowl-bound cornerback Asante Samuel is one of the top man-to-man defenders in the league. Speedy Ellis Hobbs is also solid, but he's only 5-9, so is a liability against tall receivers such as Burress. Safety Rodney Harrison is as tough as they come.
* Coaching: Bill Belichick has a 15-3 postseason coaching record and is trying to become only the second coach to win four Super Bowls. He has led the Patriots to an 86-26 record since 2001 and has led his teams to at least the AFC championship game in four of the last five seasons. Tom Coughlin is making his first Super Bowl appearance, though he twice took the Jacksonville Jaguars to the AFC title game. He has a 103-89 career record, including 35-29 in four seasons with the Giants.
* Intangibles: The Patriots are looking to complete an undefeated season, which may give them extra confidence or cause extra pressure. They committed a league-low 15 turnovers this season. The Giants excel away from home and have won 10 consecutive road games. The Patriots defeated the Giants, 38-35, on Dec. 29. Edge: Patriots.
* Prediction: New England, 34-20.
-- Peter Yoon