We’re just about 48 hours from the start of Super Bowl 52. Most of the picks are in from around the nation, and much to the surprise of nobody, most are picking the Patriots in a close game, although a couple have picked the Patriots in a rout. I don’t think a blowout from either side is likely. Last year’s overtime win over the Falcons by 6 points was the Patriots largest margin of victory in any of their five Super Bowl wins. Here is why if I were picking the Patriots I would believe they would win:
- They’ve Been Here Before. Experience in big games certainly can be an advantage. Look at the Steelers of the 70’s, 49ers of the 80’s and even the Cowboys of the 90’s. Great teams know how to show up on the big stage when the lights shine the brightest, and the Belichick/Brady Patriots have done it better than anyone in NFL history. Its like they were born to do this. “Doom” as nicknamed by his former boss Bill Parcells has been doing this since his days as the Giants Defensive Coordinator, winning Super Bowls 21 and 25.
- Tom Brady. Like Bradshaw, Montana and Aikman before him, Brady has won 5 Super Bowls, and if not for the helmet catch in 2007 or and unbelievable Manning to Mannigham pitch and catch in 2011, he might’ve won 6 or 7 Super Bowls. Even at the ripe old age of 40, Brady is like a fine wine that just keeps getting better, as his 4600 yards and 33 TD’s to just 8 INT’s tell you. This guy likes to compete, and he likes to win. Down 10 to the Jags in the 4th Quarter of the AFC Championship Game nobody would’ve said anything if the Patriots had lost. They were without their All-World Tight End, and they could’ve packed it in. Nope, Brady marched them down for two TD’s in the final quarter, and a great pass defense by Gilmore at the end sealed their trip to Minneapolis. Its what makes above average athletes great. Its the difference between being memorable and future Hall Of Fame material.
- Halftime. No, I don’t think Justin Timberlake will rally the Patriots to their 6th Super Bowl with a memorable performance of “Can’t Stop The Feeling”. What I do know is that the Patriots make adjustments at halftime better than anyone. One former player said its like playing two different games when you play the Patriots. They let you do what you do in the first half, then adjust and stop it in the second half.
- Rob Gronkowski. The Jags showed the best way to handle “Gronk” was to literally knock him out of the game, which they did in the first half of the AFC Championship game. “Gronk’ cleared the concussion protocol (as if there was any chance he wouldn’t), and if he’s right he can take over a game. The Eagles sort of got a taste of this Week 2 in Kansas City with Travis Kelce, and Kelce was a big reason why the Chiefs won that game.
- Defensive Pressure. This unit, which accounted for 41 sacks this season, has 11 in their 2 playoff games. Nick Foles has been good in his three playoff starts becoming the only QB in NFL history to achieve a 100+ passer rating in his first three playoff starts (2013 loss to the Saints, wins this year against Atlanta and Minnesota), but this will be his first playoff game away from the Linc, and it just happens to be the Super Bowl. The Patriots must get to Foles in order to disrupt the Eagles offense.
Tomorrow we will examine why the Eagles win Super Bowl 52 on Sunday.