We are on the eve of Super Bowl XLVI, the single biggest day in the world of sports. After a two week break between the championship games and this epic duel, we are finally set to see who will take home the Lombardi Trophy.
Those two weeks were filled with talking heads throughout the cable television world citing what would be important factors in the outcome of the game. Most of these individuals pointed to both Eli Manning and Tom Brady. While they are extremely important in the outcome of the game, quarterbacks cannot win the Super Bowl on their own. There are 44 starters on both clubs as well as a myriad of equally important special teams players.
In short, the whole team needs to play well in order for either team to win the Super Bowl. Their success doesn't just sit on the laps of one particular player.
This article is going to focus on "under the radar" performances that will go a long way in deciding the outcome of the game.
Chad Ochocinco could be an extremely valuable player for the New England Patriots tomorrow evening. He hasn't had a good season at all and has been sitting on the sidelines for the most part. With that said, it is necessary to bring him up in this conversation. The New York Giants are going to do everything in their power to take away the Patriots tight end combination between the hashes.
You will see a lot of zone coverage with linebackers dropping back underneath and safeties doubling over the top. This is going to leave Ochocinco in single coverage on the outside against marginal Giants' cover corners. If No. 85 has four or five catches it will only enhance the Patriots chance of grabbing their fourth Super Bowl Championship.
Jake Ballard, on the other side, is a huge x-factor for the New York Giants. Much like their own issues with the Patriots two-headed tight end monster, New England is going to have major issues with the Giants trio of wide receivers. They are not going to have success with single coverage on Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz all day long. Instead, the Patriots are going to have to play double outside scheme, which leaves the middle of the field vulnerable.
This is where Jake Ballard comes into play. He has been a really nice safety valve for Eli Manning this season, averaging a whopping 15.9 yards per reception this season. However, the second year tight end from Ohio State has been quite this postseason. He has three catches in just as many games and was shutout against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.
If Ballard is able to come up with five or six catches, it means one of two things. The Patriots were either successful in shutting down the big three on the outside or Eli Manning had an absolutely huge game. Either way, Ballard is a key component to their success, or lack thereof.
So, there you have it. Two players that no one have really been talking about over the course of the last two weeks that might have a huge stake in the outcome of the Super Bowl. I recommend that you pay close attention to Ochocinco and Ballard because if I am right, they are going to be instrumental in the outcome of the game.