It is not the Niners. Or the Bears. Nor the Ravens or even those cursed Raiders whom I hate to love, though I cannot bring myself to love to hate.
None of them are playing Sunday, nor are Dallas or Denver or the Jets, three teams I could do without for the most part, or the Saints, Packers, or Ravens, three teams I really like a lot and don't mind too much when they succeed (for they are interesting and fun to watch). Or even the Falcons or Panthers, who own the rights to my two favorite players to watch, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton.
I guess you could say I feel the same way about the Patriots and the Giants.
The Pats do remind me a lot of the Niners of the 80's, withTom Brady as Joe Montana, and Bill Belichick as Bill Walsh. Whatever you throw at Montana or Brady, they are too cool to get distracted, kind of like my partner and producer Steve Gibson refers to the drummer in my band Strictly Olga (that would be Jon Arkin). "He is pretty hard to perturb," Steve said once, noting the most important part of drumming is simply keeping a steady beat.
As for Belichick, well, he may well be as smart at Walsh was: able to design offensive plays that defensive coordinators and their respective gladiators have yet to see, let alone fathom a way to defend.
Their counterparts, Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin, the pair may lack the mystical presence of of Montana or Brady, or Walsh or Belichick, but that does not mean they are any less succesful. Certainly this is their second Super Bowl in four years, which in and of itself is pretty good. And, whoever imagined that Eli, who always seemed in the shadow of his star brother would have a chance to best his brother in arguably the one stat that counts the most: Super Bowl victories?
And Coughlin, whose cheeks seem permanently scarred with frostbite, the result of his Giants playoff win in 2007 on route to their spectacular upset of those same, and then undefeated Patriots?
I guess, though, what it kind of boils down to is that street tough and wise cluster of New Yorkers, clashing up against the more erudite, and perhaps precieved as brainier New England counterparts?
What it also boils down to is as almost as with that finale to the 2007, I really have no vested interest in who wins this Sunday. In fact that does elicit the sense that I did care more four years ago when I looked for the New Yorkers to upset the then undefeated Patriots. And, I guess my connection with the underdog is what drove that desire to see the New Englander's season of perfection go down the crapper.
This year, though, Diane lives here, so there is no travelling to Chicago. Although since she is immersed in her Animal Biology studies at Davis, well, I guess I will be watching the game largely with the dogs, so the big focus is what will I make to eat?
See, I not only like to cook, but am pretty good at it to boot. So, the question I posed to Di of "what do you want to eat Sunday during the game" could have really just been phrased "what do you want to eat Sunday," since when I was in Chicago in 2008 for that terrific game, Diane and her cousin Cherie grew wary of football at half time. They went upstairs to watch a movie second half, and fell asleep, never to see, let alone know or care who David Tyree was.
But, since it is the weekend, I do try to take a little time and really make something from scratch. Pasta lately has been a focus, and I have also got pizza dough, and the subsequent pie down pretty well, along with roasted curry vegetables.
Diane actually said dogs and beans sounded good, and well that is about as sports oriented as food can get, so that seemed like a good idea. For, though I have not tried baked beans from scratch, my dogs are indeed excellent: up there in quality with my burgers and fries, which among our friends have become a bit legendary (I think "restaurant quality" was what my life long friend Stephen Clayton said of them).
And then it hit me Friday morning, while watching Chuck Todd and the "Daily Rundown" on MSNBC, as he pointed out the White House Soup of the Day was going to be New England Clam Chowder, noting the slight over the dish's Manhattan cousin.
"That's what I will make," I thought, but then the question was which one? The creamy thick New England version, maybe a little more sophisticated than the tomato-based Manhattan version, which is no less hearty? Meaning I am as unsure about which broth to concoct as I am who to root for.
In the end, I think it will be Manhattan Chowder, but not because I think the Giants will win (for all I texted Diane today when this hit me was "chowder and either fresh bread, or cheddar bisquits"), but that will keep the balance of the meal, for I think the Patriots will indeed prevail Sunday.
Why? Well, true the Giants have Manning, and Hakeem Nicks and the incredible Victor Cruz, and a Coughlin defense, while the Patriots have Brady and Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski along with a Belichick offense.
But, the Pats also have Aaron Hernandez, that Tight End who runs out of the slot and does all kinds of things a Tight End is not supposed to do.
I think he will make the difference, and the Patriots will win 34-27. But, I simply hope the game is as good as the one in 2008 (the chowder will be good irrespective).