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Super Bowl XLVI: Patriots and Giants cap off clamorous NFL campaign

The biggest game in the 2011 NFL season almost didn't happen, due to a players lockout by owners over the summer. Now, it's time to crown a champion.

By Julian LindenReuters / February 3, 2012

The Vince Lombardi Trophy sits between New York Giants and New England Patriots helmets during a press conferene for Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, Indiana, February 3.

Gary Hershorn/REUTERS

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Indianapolis

One of the most tumultuous National Football League (NFL) seasons ever will climax on Sunday when the New York Giants and New England Patriots lock horns in Super Bowl XLVI.

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A season that almost did not happen because of the bitter labor dispute between team owners and the players' union has not only survived but produced a classic encounter between two of the NFL's most popular franchises.

The United States has been whipped into a frenzy of excitement with more than 70,000 people expected to cram into Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to watch the game live while an estimated record worldwide audience of more than 160 million are expected to watch the extravaganza unfold on television.

"It's been an extraordinary year for the NFL on many different levels," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said on Friday."

"The best thing about it was the game and how fans responded to it. Now we finish up on Sunday with a fantastic match-up, the Giants and the Patriots. What many consider to be the best Super Bowl in the history of the NFL. No doubt, the whole world will be watching."

The rivalry between New York and Boston is already one of the oldest and fiercest in American sports and the stakes could not be higher this weekend after a wildly fluctuating season where nothing really went according to the script.

The Patriots, who have won the Super Bowl three times in the last decade, are the slight favorites after winning their divisional title, then beating the Baltimore Ravens to claim the AFC championship.

But is it a game where the unexpected is expected. Both teams have outstanding quarterbacks, solid defenses and game-breaking players who can pile on the points.

"Every Super Bowl is special," New England coach Bill Belichick said.

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