So here we are, Superbowl Sunday and as some would say the greatest show on earth is almost upon us. The 52nd Superbowl to be precise and contested by 5 times winners the New England Patriots from the AFC and the yet to win it Philadelphia Eagles from the NFC.
Both finished as the number one seeds in their respective conferences, so we have the best two teams of this season going head to head. But here we also have two very different franchises at two very different stages.
The dynasty created in Foxboro’ is coming close to an end. 5 Superbowl wins since 2001 coupled with a further 3 appearances including tonight in the showpiece game is something that most of us believe we will never see again. The Bill Belichick-Tom Brady combination has been immense and despite the salary cap the NFL operates, the Patriots always manage to stay beyond competitive every single season.
Brady has just been named MVP (most valuable player) for the third time in his career and tonight will be seeking a sixth Superbowl ring, not bad for a guy whose now 40 but untouchable at the top of his profession. Should New England win tonight, they will equal the Pittsburgh Steelers record of 6 wins and what price Brady going again next season to make it 7 and outright leaders of Superbowl wins?
The Patriots are one of those teams others dislike and not just because of their success over the past near two decades. ‘Deflategate’ and the spying on other teams practises and playbooks are two of those unlikable things, I’ve never understood why as it’s not been needed, they are a class franchise with outstanding talent across the pitch so why they feel the need to resort to underhand dealings is beyond me. Of course people will be enviable to their record, and as balanced as the NFL can be, New England always seem to stay a player or two ahead, testament to Belichick and his coaching and scouting staff for doing so. There were chinks this year that the Eagles can exploit, Brady’s been sacked more this season than before and is less mobile inside the pocket, if the D line can get to him and make it difficult and get the ball out quicker than Brady would like, turnovers could come. The Jaguars showed two weeks ago, you can score quite freely against the Pats but you have to make it count on every possession.
The Eagles surprised everyone this year going from bottom place in the NFC East to 13-3 winners, led by an impressive QB Carson Wentz in his second season. But when Wentz checked out for the season with an ACL injury, back up QB Nick Foles had the task to lead the team into the final games of the season and the post season. While the Eagles might have gone 3-1 in those games, Foles looked anything but confident in those games and the franchise with the best NFC record looked like heading into the post season as underdogs rather than favourites.
But Foles has recovered himself and in both play offs game made assured throws and decisions to win both games, routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7 two weeks ago where his performance of 26 for 33 and 3 TD passes showed he does have the ability to lead the Eagles to their first Superbowl glory in what will be their third appearance.
Much will depend on Foles repeating that kind of performance to keep the Eagles in close attendance of the scoreline, Blake Bortles showed it can be done, but can it be kept up on both sides of the line for Philadelphia for four quarters?
Myself, I can’t see beyond Brady and the Patriots making it 6, Cowboys fans will not be cheering for an NFC East rival to win! I’m going for Brady to have his team 14 points in front by the end, don’t let me down old man!