It’s the day all football fans look forward to, Super Bowl Sunday (well, Monday here in Aus). As 94% of the league takes a seat on the couch to watch the spectacle, fans of two teams from opposite sides of the success spectrum eagerly await the outcome. For the second year in a row, the mighty Patriots take on an NFC team with a predatory bird as its mascot looking for its first Super Bowl victory. In fact, New England can make it three in a row versus predatory birds in the Super Bowl if you count the Seahawks…which isn’t actually a thing, but the concept is there.
Anyway, this is a rematch of a hard-fought (if not slightly boring) SB XXXIX when both teams were in the midst of pretty successful runs. The Patriots were looking for their 3rd championship in four years while the Eagles were coming off of three consecutive NFC Championship game losses to finally get back to the Super Bowl for the second time in team history. Brady threw a TD to a linebacker, Donovan McNabb threw 3 interceptions, Troy Brown set the record for return yards in an SB, and Terrell Owens had an all-time performance…with a broken leg.
This year’s matchup showcases an interesting pair of quarterbacks: the ageless future Hall of Famer, Brady, appearing in his 8th Super Bowl versus perpetual backup Nick Foles. Their careers could not be much different. No matter the outcome, Brady will go down as one of the all-time greats in the history of the game while Foles will go back to being Carson Wentz’s backup next year.
The Patriots come in as a 4.5 favourite, which tells me it would be more like 2 if Wentz were playing. Each team finished atop their respective conferences with a 13-3 record and each team was defeated early in the season by the Chiefs. The Patriots other two losses were at home vs Carolina and at Miami, while the Eagles stumbled at Seattle and in a meaningless game vs Dallas. Each team had a relatively easy schedule considering how their conferences played out. New England certainly had an easier draw in the playoffs, but the Eagles only played two playoff teams all season.
It’s a really hard game to pick when you look at all the variables: Brady & Belichick’s dominance vs the NFC team who were dominant all season, but lost their MVP-candidate QB; an Eagles team that was seemingly scoring 30pts a week right until the Wentz injury vs a New England team that looked beatable early in the season, then finished 11-1.
In the end, my money is on the Eagles. Partly because it’s too easy to pick the Patriots and partly because I think the AFC is a much weaker conference. If the Patriots played in the NFC (any division), it’s my opinion that they don’t finish with home field advantage throughout. I realise the AFC has won the last two Super Bowls, but the teams they beat were built differently than the Eagles. I think the Eagles are more balanced than either the Falcons or Panthers and as long as they don’t choke, I think they win.
My prediction: Eagles by 6. Brady is thwarted on a game-winning drive in the 4th.
In single game slates, I tend to go with the chalk and throw a couple of darts. If you hit on one of those dart throws, you’ll probably do well. Here are my plays:
Tom Brady: I don’t expect either QB to put up huge numbers, but Brady has the most touchdown equity in that he’ll most likely be behind any scoring the Pats do.
Dion Lewis/LeGarrette Blount: Lewis is the Patriots’ top weapon these days and I’ll save a little with Blount and roll with the revenge narrative. Not quite a dart throw, but I like the price.
Danny Amendola/Torrey Smith: Amendola showed that he’s Brady’s safety net when it matters. I think Brady will look for him often and if they do win, Danny will have had a major part in it. Smith is my dart throw. I like his big-play ability and think the Patriots are beatable deep. Foles will be a hero if he connects with Smith for a long TD.
Ertz/Gronk: If there was ever a game to play both tight ends, it’s this one. Each is the top receiving option on their teams, so lock them in.
Alshon Jeffrey: He’s my pick for MVP of this game. He’s the best WR the Patriots have seen this whole postseason and while they’ll be focusing on Ertz & the run game, I can see Alshon having a field day versus the Patriot secondary.
Eagles D: I think they get more pressure on Brady than the Pat D does on Foles. Not going to argue strongly for either though, it’s simply whichever one can make a big play.
So, that’s me for the NFL season. Best of luck with the game this Monday and I hope to see some of you guys around the MLB chat room!