As a Vikings fan that lives in Boston- I care less about who wins this Super Bowl than any in recent memory. I don’t want the Patriots because they’re the most spoiled fan base of all time. Did you know: There’s a championship drought in Boston. They haven’t won since 2008. Oh wait. That’s just the Celtics. And since that championship- they’ve had 1 Stanley Cup, 1 World Series and 2 Super Bowls. Some life. Living here you don’t forget that. But most of the fans seem to. Not knowing how good they have it while your team fails year after year is a frustrating experience to live around. For them to add one more- and not only adding one more, but expecting to add one more title- is something that I don’t want to see.
On the other hand we have the Eagles, who absolutely crushed my Vikings two weeks ago. My issue with the Eagles are also their fans. The borderline criminal activity towards Vikings fans makes me believe that Eagles fans don’t deserve to celebrate on Sunday night. However, they have never won a Super Bowl, and those activities are only a portion of the fanbase, albeit one that is known for being raucous. For those fans – even if it’s just one person – that are respectful, die-hard fans that have never seen their team win the big game, that’s what has me leaning Eagles. Win one for that guy. Still, though, it’s one of those games that I won’t know who I want to win until the game starts.
With that I’ll break down the game- and sorry because you don’t care about who I want to win (nor do you probably care about my break down). Now, I’m not going to break down specific matchups, since these teams have been pulled apart for the past couple of weeks. Brady’s good. The Eagles defense is good. Wentz is out, Gronk is in, blah, blah, blah. We get it. Instead, I’ll present on a few storylines that I continue to hear that I disagree with, most of which should give hope to Eagles fans.
“Giving Belichick 2 Weeks to Prepare is a Huge Advantage”
This take drives me crazy. The Patriots have never blown anybody away in a Super Bowl. In fact, they often start slow. Also, the Pats have never scored a Touchdown in the first quarter of a Super Bowl. These are the drives that are scripted, the 20 or so plays that are rarely affected by game flow. The plays that Belichick had two weeks to scout and poke holes in the opposition. They’ve never worked.
To continue, in last year’s Super Bowl, the Patriots went down 28-3. That must’ve been some 2-week game plan. The Patriots won last year because of mid-game adjustments, key plays, a little bit of luck and a meltdown by the Falcons. That is where Belichick has the advantage: his experience. His adjustments are as good as any coach in the game and his experience in Super Bowls gives the Pats a big edge. However, the narrative that two weeks is too much time for Belichick has never had legs and it drives me crazy every time I hear it.
This Would Be The Worst Pats Team to Win a Super Bowl
When I watched the Pats play this year, I was unimpressed. After acquiring Cooks and Gilmore, it seemed like a year they wouldn’t need to lean on Brady as much, but it’s been the opposite. He’s been bailing them out. Now on offense, it’s basically the same old story. They have enough talent and pass catchers to be successful against any defense. Cooks, Gronk, Hogan, Amendola and all of the versatile backs will give them enough matchups to move the ball. But on defense, it’s far from championship caliber.
Think back to the early 2000s. Richard Seymour. Teddy Bruschi. Willie McGinest. Lawyer Milloy. Ty Law. That was a special defense. Continue through the years and you add Asante Samuel. Rodney Harrison. Vince Wilfork. Even think back to last year- Malcolm Butler and McCourty are still around, but you’ve lost the fear in your front seven. Hightower is out. Ninkovich. Sheard both gone. And Chris Long, well he’s on the Eagles. The current Patriots front seven is average if we’re being generous, as they were 30th against the run this year. Luckily, they’ve been winning big in enough games to force opponents to pass and become one dimensional.
I think most years you wouldn’t see this team in the Super Bowl. It’s been a weird year for the NFL. For starters, in this “quarterback driven league” Keenum, Foles and Bortles were among the last four QBs standing. This defense is nowhere near championship caliber, and the offense isn’t special enough to support them. However, in what I’d call a league filled with parity, the Patriots have the most consistent, stable franchise the league has ever seen paired with the best quarterback of all time. Put that together, and chances are you’re going to make it to the finale. Once you get there, you just might get exploited for what you’ve been all along.
Foles and Pedersen are Underrated
I think this narrative has been touched on enough nationally, but I want to re-visit it. Let’s start with Foles. In 2013, his TD:INT ratio was 27:2. That gets dismissed often because it was under Chip Kelly. He also has had a game where he’s thrown for SEVEN TDs. Against the Vikes last week, his ball placement was perfect. Now, I’m not lobbying for Nick Foles to be a franchise-quarterback, but he’s clearly demonstrated he can play, and I think people are starting to realize that. He gets a bad rep because he looks like Napoleon Dynamite and he’s slower than an elephant going uphill. (To me, his reputation is similar to Sam Bradford, who also can’t move and has his dorky big sleeves flopping all over the place. He can also play. When his knee works.) Regardless, Foles can play. And he’s definitely good enough to have success against the aforementioned lackluster defense.
Doug Pedersen can also coach. This poor guy received no recognition this year. For turning around Jared Goff, Sean McVay was being praised like his mom owned every media outlet this side of the Mississippi. Meanwhile, Pedersen had nothing to show for his progress with Carson Wentz. Coach of the Year votes were between Mike Zimmer, McVay and Sean Payton before a Doug Pedersen’s name surfaced. You could even argue that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was given more credit than Pedersen for the Eagles’ success. I think Pedersen has had his team prepared all year. He lost his star quarterback, put Foles in, and after a game or two of rust, they haven’t missed a beat. Give credit where it’s due, Pedersen will be well prepared for this game.
With all of this being said, it will take a lot for the Eagles to win, but they don’t have to play a perfect game. Foles could easily lay an egg and torpedo the Eagles’ hopes into the ground, and I, like most, still have a hard time thinking that Tom Brady will lose to a team led by Nick Foles. I’ll still side with experience and take the Patriots to win by about 7, especially if they can establish an early lead, but it doesn’t take much to see the Eagle’s pulling this one off by a score. This isn’t a typical year and this isn’t a typical Patriots team. This matchup is closer than it appears – and I very much want to predict the Eagles to win – but I’ll still side with experience.