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46 reasons to watch Super Bowl XLVI

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By Eli Kaberon

For the second time in five years, the New England Patriots and New York Giants will meet in the most important, and final, game on the football calendar — the Super Bowl. On Feb. 5, in Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium, the two teams will square off for the right to be called champions of the 2011 season.

Fans of both teams will obviously be watching the game to support their team. But even if you don't cheer for the Patriots or Giants, next Sunday's game will be a must-see event. Why? Let us count the ways:

Here are 46 reasons to watch Super Bowl XLVI:

I. The revenge factor, as the Patriots try to get back at the Giants for ruining their perfect 2007 season in Super Bowl XLII.

II. A chance to see Giants WR Victor Cruz catch, run and potentially salsa-dance.

III. Julian Edelman, the Patriots wide receiver/defensive back/punt returner, who is one of the few three-way players in the NFL.

IV. If a head coach has to challenge a play, you'll either watch Bill Belichick of the Patriots or Tom Coughlin of the Giants pull a red flag out of his sock to throw it on the field.

V. New England's offensive guards, Logan Mankins and Brian Waters, who form one of the best blocking tandems in the entire league.

VI. To see whether the Patriots' offensive line can control Giants DE Justin Tuck, who had two sacks and a forced fumble when these teams met in the Super Bowl four years ago.

VII. The game's biggest talker, Patriots WR Chad Ochocinco, finally on the game's grandest stage.

VIII. To see if Brandon Jacobs, the Giants' 264-pound running back, trucks right through a helpless defender.

IX. The chance to see Colts QB Peyton Manning, in the stadium he essentially built, watching his brother (Giants QB Eli Manning) face off against Peyton's greatest rival (Patriots QB Tom Brady).

X. Will Patriots RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (who has one of the NFL's top nicknames — the Law Firm) fumble? In Green-Ellis' four-year career, he has never put the ball on the ground.

XI. The commercials, which may be funny, dumb, shocking, racy or thought-provoking, are certainly expensive ($3.5 million for 30 seconds of airtime).

XII. A pair of owners — John Mara of the Giants and Robert Kraft of the Patriots — who were instrumental in ending last summer's lockout and providing football fans with a 2011 season.

XIII. Two tough rookies — Giants LB Mark Herzlich and Patriots OL Marcus Cannon — both of whom have fought cancer recently in their young lives.

XIV. A last chance to see Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien in the NFL before he becomes the head coach at Penn State University.

XV. An endless loop of replays of the David Tyree helmet catch from four years ago, considered by many to be the greatest play in Super Bowl history.

XVI. To learn more about Giants pass rusher Mathias Kiwanuka, who was born and raised in Indianapolis, then played college football in New England (Boston College) before heading to the Big Apple.

XVII. To hear if anthem singer Kelly Clarkson can remember all of the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner," something Christina Aguilera failed to do last February.

XVIII. Patriots second-year stars TE Aaron Hernandez and LB Brandon Spikes — college teammates who helped the University of Florida win a national championship — trying to add a Super Bowl ring to their jewelry box.

XIX. Zoltan Mesko, the Patriots' punter with tree trunks for legs, who may have the coolest name in all of football.

XX. To see Giants LB Chase Blackburn, who as recently as November was preparing to teach eighth-graders algebra in Ohio.

XXI. The chance to hear some good Bill Parcells stories. The former coach of the Giants and Patriots (and mentor to both Belichick and Coughlin) is a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which will be announced the night before the game.

XXII. Patriots CB Kyle Arrington, who tied for the NFL lead in interceptions with seven this season.

XXIII. The endless choices in prop bets, including whether heads or tails will win the coin toss and an over/under on how many times Brady's wife — model Gisele Bündchen — will be shown on TV.

XXIV. To see if Jacobs, the Giants' running back, angrily throws his helmet into the crowd, which he did the last time New York played in Indianapolis.

XXV. Chance to relive all of Madonna's hits from the 1980s during her halftime performance.

XXVI. Giants WR Hakeem Nicks, the third-year receiver who has put on a clinic during the postseason, having caught 18 passes, including four touchdown receptions, the past three weeks.

XXVII. The "unbiased" commentary of NBC pregame and halftime analyst Rodney Harrison, a former Patriots safety and the primary victim of the Tyree catch.

XXVIII. Watching big Patriots DT Vince Wilfork, one of the more disruptive defenders in the entire league, try to fight past a physical Giants offensive line.


XXX. Eli Manning going for his second Lombardi Trophy, one more than his big brother …

XXXI. … and Tom Brady going for his fourth, the same as his idol, Joe Montana.

XXXII. To see how the Patriots — who have struggled in the secondary all season long — match up with the Giants' big, fast receivers.

XXXIII. A likely crowd shot of Rooney Mara, the Oscar-nominated actress and daughter of Giants vice president of player evaluation Chris Mara.

XXXIV. And hopefully a crowd shot of Ann Mara, Rooney's grandmother, who made headlines last week by scolding Terry Bradshaw for always picking against the Giants as he awarded the NFC championship trophy to Coughlin.

XXXV. The wacky and colorful Jim Irsay, owner of the Colts, acting as master of ceremonies all week long in his team's hometown.

XXXVI. To see 5-foot-9 Patriots WR Wes Welker torture bigger defenders with his quick cuts and magnets for hands.

XXXVII. Watching the old and the young defensive ends for the Giants. Thirty-year-old Osi Umenyiora still tortures opposing linemen with pure speed, while Jason Pierre-Paul, 23, is taking the league by storm with his wide array of pass-rushing skills.

XXXVIII. The awesome annual tradition of the entire stadium exploding in flashbulbs when the opening kickoff is sent into the air.

XXXIX. Patriots ILB Jerod Mayo, one of the less-discussed but bigger-impact defenders in the league.

XL. Hearing legendary play-by-play man Al Michaels announce his eighth Super Bowl.

XLI. The chance that a Super Bowl record for combined passing attempts (93, set by the Chargers and 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX) will be set. During the regular season, the Patriots and Giants averaged a combined 75 passes per game, so both teams are likely to air it out on Super Bowl Sunday.

XLII. The potential debate over whether Coughlin, were he to win his second Super Bowl as a head coach, qualifies as a future Hall of Famer.

XLIII. And an equally compelling debate about Belichick, already a lock for Canton with three rings as a head coach, perhaps making a good case for the being considered the greatest coach in NFL history if he were to win another Super Bowl.

XLIV. Brady vs. Manning being only the third QB rematch in Super Bowl history, joining Bradshaw vs. Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman vs. Jim Kelly.

XLV. Two passionate fan bases and historic franchises, each going for their fourth Super Bowl title.

XLVI. Because this is the last professional football game for 214 days until the 2012 season kicks off. So you might as well enjoy it.

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