(Sports Network) - The two combatants of Super Bowl XLVI will be going head- to-head for the first time since that memorable title bout in Indianapolis back in February, though neither the stakes nor the intensity will be anywhere near as high when the New York Giants and New England Patriots square off this time around.
The majority of the star players on both sides will certainly either see minimal playing time or be held out entirely for Wednesday's clash at MetLife Stadium, the final preseason test for each. That may be particularly true in the Giants' case, with the defending world champions kicking off the 2012 regular season exactly one week later with a showdown against NFC East rival Dallas.
Quarterback Eli Manning, who orchestrated the late touchdown drive that lifted New York to its 21-17 ousting of the Pats in Indianapolis and took home his second career Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award in the process, did not participate at all in last year's warm-up finale against New England. It's possible he'll make a brief cameo in this one, though he got extensive prep work in last Friday's 20-17 home loss to Chicago.
Manning was sharp while operating the first-team offense all of the first half, completing 17-of-21 passes for 148 yards and connecting with roster- bubble wideout Ramses Barden on an 11-yard touchdown.
Rookie running back David Wilson also had an impressive performance for the Giants, with the 2012 first-round pick gaining a game-high 49 yards on just five carries subbing for returning leading rusher Ahmad Bradshaw (wrist).
Bradshaw is one of a host of New York players almost certain to be inactive for Wednesday's contest, a list that also includes linebackers Michael Boley (hamstring) and Mathias Kiwanuka (groin), defensive tackle Chris Canty (knee), offensive tackle Will Beatty (back) and cornerbacks Terrell Thomas (knee), Prince Amukamara (ankle) and Jayron Hosley (turf toe). Kiwanuka and Amukamara sustained their injuries in the Chicago game.
One key New York offensive starter who may be on the field is Hakeem Nicks. The big-bodied wide receiver has yet to see action this preseason while recovering from a fractured foot, but returned to practice last week.
The Patriots did use Tom Brady some in last year's preseason meeting with the Giants, with the two-time league MVP playing the first quarter in New England's 18-17 loss that night. It's more likely he'll be sidelined for this matchup, however, after competing the first three periods of last Friday's outing at Tampa Bay.
Brady went 13-of-20 for 127 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the Patriots' 30-28 setback to the Buccaneers before giving way to second-year pro Ryan Mallett, who tossed a pair of scoring passes in the final five minutes.
Stevan Ridley, the projected primary running back for New England's Sept. 9 opener at Tennessee, tuned up for that game by rushing for 87 yards and a touchdown on 16 attempts.
Backfield mate Shane Vereen exited Friday's game with a foot injury and is a candidate to miss the finale, with safety Patrick Chung (shoulder), cornerback Kyle Arrington (back) and offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer (back) all possibilities as well.
New England will actually be seeking to avenge three losses to the Giants last season. In addition to the Super Bowl and the preseason meeting, in which New York scored 15 unanswered fourth-quarter points to prevail, the Patriots dropped a 24-20 decision to Big Blue at Gillette Stadium during Week 9 of the 2011 regular season. The Giants also rallied to victory that day, with Manning hitting tight end Jake Ballard for a short touchdown pass with 15 seconds left to play for the deciding margin.
Ballard is now a member of the Patriots, having been claimed off waivers from New York in June, but will begin the season on the physically unable to perform list while making his way back from a torn ACL he suffered in Super Bowl XLVI.
These teams have faced one another in the preseason every year since 2005 and 21 times overall. The Giants have won the last two encounters to extend their lead in the series to 13-8.