Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday, one of the greatest, but also most bittersweet days of the year IMO. It's been a while since I used that vocab word with you so allow my friend Nathan Fielder to give you a refresher on that unfamiliar term.
Much like the funeral business, the Super Bowl is very bittersweet. Bitter because in a way it's a funeral for the season; it represents the end. After Super Bowl Sunday there is no more NFL football until August when the preseason begins. Very sad indeed! Much like a funeral! Sundays just aren't the same without football, just like your life isn't the same after losing a loved one.
But! it's also sweet in the sense that it's the fucking Super Bowl. The greatest sporting event of the year, the night the NFL crowns it's league champion. Even if you're not a huge sports fan (loser) it's still appealing because it's much more than just a football game with the food, parties, commercials, half-time show and other what-have-you. It's one of the biggest nights of the year. As a Patriots fan it's a nearly annual tradition.
I still can't believe the Eagles are in this game. Going into the playoffs I thought they had the 10th best chance to win the Super Bowl.
I like millions of other people wrote them off entirely after Carson Wentz tore his ACL. Even as they hung on to the one seed I figured they'd lose their first playoff game. It made all the sense in the world, however, sports usually do not make sense which is what makes them so amazing. If what you expected to happen always happened it'd be boring AF.
Under the guidance of BDN Foles the Eagles didn't lose in the playoffs, they're still here and earned the right to represent the National Football Conference. They squeaked by the defending NFC Champion Falcons 15-10 and blew out the Minnesota Vikings 38-7 to reach the franchise's third Super Bowl and first since 2004 where they also played the Patriots.
Maybe I wasn't giving Foles enough credit, he was a Pro Bowler with the Eagles in 2013 when he had an amazing regular season. In 2013 he broke the touchdown to interception ratio record when he tossed 27 touchdowns and only 2 picks in 2013. That was also the last time the birds made the playoffs. He's not your average back-up QB, there have been glimpses of success in this league. He has a 7 touchdown game and pro bowl appearance under his belt as well.
It's a strange situation with this Eagles team, they did go 13-3 and have a fantastic defense (4th overall) with stars like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Malcolm Jenkins. But they are sort of a miraculous, underdog story given all the injuries (not just Wentz) this team faced this year. Nobody expected them to be here when the season began. They were expected to finish in 3rd or 4th in the NFC East. Much of this group hasn't been there before, as this entire roster has 7 Super Bowl appearances in total.
Then of course there's the New England Patriots, defending Super Bowl champs looking for their 3rd Super Bowl win in 4 seasons. Something the franchise has accomplished before during their 2001-04 run. They like the Eagles also went 13-3, were the #1 seed in their conference and have battled adversity. After losing their season opener there were talks that the Kansas City Chiefs would become the team to beat in the AFC, and for the first third of the season they were.
It seems like forever ago but this Patriots team started 2-2, realistically could've been 1-3, they should've lost to the Texans. Thank God for Tom Brady.
Their defense was in shambles, in the first four games the Patriots defense gave up 42, 20, 33, 33 points respectively. Opposing receivers were regularly running down field wide up as the Patriots' secondary was in shambles. The Stephon Gilmore signing was looking like a massive mistake.
As the season went on they lost All-Pro linebacker Dont'a Hightower yet somehow their defense found a way to finish in the top 5 in points allowed. It should be noted that they also finished 29th in yards allowed. They are the textbook example of "bend but don't break". Since week 5 they're allowing 14.4 points a game.
In the playoffs the Patriots handled the Tennessee Titans 35-14 and the game wasn't even as close at the score indicates, but struggled with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The would go on to with 24-20 but it took another classic Tom Brady 4th quarter comeback to do. Danny Amendola had arguably his greatest day as a Patriot. I was nervous throughout the whole game, but deep down felt like the Pats would prevail just because they're the Patriots, and it's the Jaguars. After Dion Lewis fumbled things changed, that's when doubt truly began to occur. I really thought the Jaguars were going to pull it off after that. They didn't, and for the 8th time under Tom Brady and Bill Belichick the Patriots are in the Super Bowl.
As for the game itself....
Super Bowl LII 15-3 Philadelphia Eagles vs. 15-3 New England Patriots
U.S. Bank Stadium Minneapolis, Minnesota 6:30 PM NBC
Despite being a 13-3 football team the Eagles have embraced the underdog role throughout the playoffs.
Lucky for them the Pats have opened up as 5.5 point favorite. So for the third straight game they're underdogs. The line has moved, some books have it at -4.5. I get that's how gambling works but to me the Super Bowl is all about who wins, not the spread.
Every Super Bowl the Patriots have played in under Bill Belichick has been a one score game. Ironically last year when the Patriots trailed 28-3 they ended up having their largest margin of victory when they beat the Falcons by six points thanks to James White's walk-off TD in overtime. If you're going off history taking the Eagles to cover seems like a smart bet.
If I was gonna bet on the game (I'm not, I'm retired) I'd take the Eagles money line, but that's more so just for the emotional hedge. If the Pats lose at least get some money out of it.
The thing is the Patriots aren't going to lose.
Obviously I'll regret saying that if they somehow do, but I truly believe that they'll just find a way to win this game. As long as Tom Brady is healthy, they have a great chance to win. Plus he has added motivation after his personal live was put on blast this week with his daughter being called a pissant on local radio, and the kiss heard round the world with his 11 year son stole Super Bowl week. can-tom-brady-make-the-father-son-on-the-lip-kiss-cool.html
Here a couple stats that I believe will reign true for the Patriots tomorrow.
The Brady-Belichick Patriots are 15-0 in the playoffs against teams they did not face in the regular season. The Patriots did not play the Eagles in the regular season.
The Eagles defensive coordinator is Jim Schwartz. Tom Brady is 5-2 in his career against Jim Schwartz defenses. One loss was in 2002 and the other was in a meaningless week 17 game in 2014 where Brady only played the first half. The Patriots average over 30 points a game in those five wins.
In addition the Patriots experience is quite possibly the biggest key to this game. Doug Pederson is a 2nd year head coach. This will be Belichick's 11th Super Bowl. Brady and Belichick know how the Super Bowl goes, it's not like other games, it's like an hour longer than a normal game with the half time show and all the other bull shit. They used that to their advantage last season where they used their conditioning to beat the Falcons as they wore down due to the Patriots running like 100 plays. They were fatigued and the Patriots used that to their advantage late to tie and eventually win the game. Other teams may have the Patriots beat in the talent department, but nobody is ever more prepared for any given situation than them.
It's also the last time the Patriots will have Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniels as they're both leaving for head coaching jobs. I just don't see a way they go out with a Super Bowl loss. The stars are aligning for this to go much like how things went in 2004. Patriots win 3rd Super Bowl in 4 years with the third victory coming over the Eagles, then both coordinators leave for head coaching jobs of their own.
While I'd love a nice relaxing Super Bowl blowout win I don't expect it to happen. It wouldn't shock me if the Pats were able to win by double digits, but that's not historically how Patriots Super Bowl's go. They also are still are looking for their first first quarter points in a Super Bowl. They've been shutout in the first quarter in their previous seven tries. Despite statistically being "good" I don't believe in the Pats defense. That makes anything possible.
I do think the Eagles running game and defense is going to give the Patriots trouble, but I'm not worried about the Pats ability to score. `I think Gronk is due for a huge game, the Eagles don't have anybody who can match up with him. As long as he's healthy (which is never a guarantee) he can dominate.
But to me the story of this game is all about the Patriots defense. Can they handle the Eagles RPOs? The Eagles have a nice set of running backs that all have different skill sets that can give the Patriot defense fits. Zach Ertz is a problem, but Patrick Chung has been incredible at stopping opposing tight ends. If Patricia can find a way to make Nick Foles look like the Nick Foles from St. Louis then I think the Patriots will be just fine. I just don't know if that's going to be possible with their current personnel on the defensive side of the ball. All that being said, I know it's a team game but I just don't see a way Nick Foles leads a team to a Super Bowl victory.
I don't care how it happens, as long as the Patriots win I'm happy. They've almost ruined football in the sense that it's hard to enjoy other games when so much is predicated on the Super Bowl. While Super Bowls 49 and 51 without a doubt shaved a decade off my life from the stress, they also made the victories that much sweeter given the circumstances in how they won. Despite all the success the Patriots have had, I do think this could be the last Tom Brady Super Bowl, or at the very least we should realize it could be. He's going to be awarded league MVP tonight, but he is 40, you never know when he is going to quote "fall off the cliff". I just know I'm going to soak this one in because who knows how much longer this run can go on? If the Patriots win he's probably their MVP, but if I had to pick a non-QB to win it for the Pats I'd go with James White. All the dude does is score playoff touchdowns. This blog has taken way too long, and is going to be read by a dozen people so I guess I'll stop here. I'm saying Patriots win 27-20. MVP Tom Brady. Philly burns down. The greatest dynasty in the history of sports continues.