It is the end of the season in the National Football League. We wait all season and Super Bowl LII has arrived. What are the themes? What are the memes? Who is going to win? All of that and more will be commented on. There is only a 50/50 chance I will get this right but it is so much fun to write and comment on the Super Bowl that it must be done.
The first paragraph I must write about is the bully in the room. That would be the New England Patriots visiting their third Super Bowl in four years. That is crazy in the NFL cap era. Not all the players are the same but when you have coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady the parts seem mostly interchangeable and for the most part they appear to be. But key players like TE Rob Gronkowski and WR Danny Amendola seem to even out the edges and the players that did not return.
So let us talk about the game.
The Tortoise and the Hare
This is a story from Aesop’s Fables The Tortoise and the Hare that has been interpreted in many ways. Some view it as a battle of unequal partners. For me I interpret it as the ever strong competitor not using all of their talent only to be shocked that they are beaten by the deliberate effort of the slow and steady. How does this apply to the game?
The New England Patriots usually play the role of the tortoise. How is this? Well the team plays the full 60 minutes. And strangely coach Bill Belichick likes to shorten the game. How? Well the Patriots have never scored in the first quarter of the Super Bowl. Some say this is a slow start but what if it is a chess move? Do not show all of your fancy moves right off the bat and shorten the game to three Quarters. This is only an opinion but if a team is playing for only three quarters it tends to speed up the ending and thusly make the games very close.
If the game is close, the New England Patriots have a better chance of winning. That is how it seems to play out. The pieces on the chess board seem to move with alacrity by the fourth quarter and the Patriots seem to dominate the end of the game. The opponent seems to come out swinging and then lose momentum and by the fourth quarter their defense has been on the field for so many plays that scoring seems to happen quickly. Look at that Atlanta Falcon defense in the fourth quarter and overtime of last year. Look for the Eagles to come out like the hare and the Patriots to try to deliver a knockout blow at the end.
As with every year I make the case for each team.
The Case For The Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles had a regular season record of 13-3. They were favored to make it to the Super Bowl until their QB Carson Wentz went down with a season ending knee injury week 14 against the Rams. But backup QB Nick Foles had a few games to pull the team together and the way the team played against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game proved that this is the best team in the NFC. The Eagles are large, fast, and talented.
The Philadelphia Eagles finished 7-9 last year which was last in the NFC East. The team is the poster child for the NFL. The NFL would like every fan to believe that their team can and will go from last to first. This makes hope spring eternal and makes the commissioner say things like “parity”.
Philadelphia defeated the best teams all year in the NFC to get here. Those teams were the Atlanta Falcons which made it to the Super Bowl last year and the highly motivated Minnesota Vikings who were looking to be the first home team in a Super Bowl as the game is at their stadium this year.
The team is led by QB Nick Foles. He was the QB before and then he wasn’t due to changes and QB Carson Wentz. But Wentz got injured and now it is Nick Foles. He was dominant in the Minnesota game and the team can light up the scoreboard.
The Philadelphia Eagles were 3rd in offense and 4th in defense which led to their 13-3 season. They score and then keep you from running the football as they led the league in only allowing 79.2 rushing yards per game. Making the opponent one dimensional makes for a good chance of winning the game.
The Philadelphia Eagles back story is that they are a hungry underdog. For coach Doug Pederson he thrives on individual matchups. He believes that if his team wins most of the individual matchups they will in turn win the game. The one on one battles that make up a game.
Another weird back story is that multiple Philadelphia Eagles players have some type of cold that has spread through the locker room like wild fire. Playing with a cold is tough. It is either something or it is nothing but it is worth noting.
Coach Doug Pederson came from the Kansas City Chiefs as their offensive coordinator. It is interesting to note that the Patriots worst loss of the year was the opening game loss to The Kansas City Chiefs. QB Nick Foles does have an Alex Smith quality about him and Alex did light up the Patriots. The Eagles seem to be the better overall team on paper and the hotter team yet they are still the underdog.
The Case For The New England Patriots
The New England Patriots had a regular season record of 13-3. The Patriots had tied the best record in all of the NFL this year with the Philadelphia Eagles. The team had a better record on the road at 7-1 than they did at home which was 6-2.
The New England Patriots defeated a very tough defensive minded Jacksonville Jaguar team to get here. The Jacksonville team arguably could be equal to or better than the Philadelphia Eagle defense. Both are comparable.
The New England Patriots allowed only 18.5 points a game which is good for 5th in the league. They had the best offense in the league averaging 394.2 yards per game. This seems to be a winning formula. Score and have your opponents NOT score.
The team is led by QB Tom Brady. This is his 8th Super Bowl. You heard that correctly again. There are not enough superlatives to describe how talented Tom Brady is when it comes to the NFL Quarterback position. He is 5-2 in Super Bowls and his two losses were to the New York Giants by a combined 7 points. Even though Tom Brady is 40 years old and “on the back nine” he is performing at a very high level. At the age of 40 he is not only still very talented but he won the NFL MVP trophy this year.
Tom Brady is also out in the spotlight this year with his TB12 brand initiative. You can see Tom at his home with his family in a Facebook Live series. It is a far different run up to the Super Bowl than what is usual. Whenever you put yourself on display it can become a distraction and it just appears that this is a different two weeks than the previous times Tom has been here. Tom seems much more confident in his skill set than ever before. Tom has stated that he has given his life to football that is why he wins.
The New England Patriots back story is very familiar. It is the whole “Us against the World” mentality. The Patriots always appear to be a team of players that could not play on other teams according to some. They have a collective mentality that is intimidating and refreshing at the same time. You have to respect a winner no matter how much they seem to be despised. They are the tortoise so if you are a team that is winning against them you must keep your foot on the gas pedal because you will be caught.
The coach of the New England Patriots is Bill Belichick. There are not enough superlatives to describe this coach as well. The QB and coach combination of Belichick and Brady have filled this article 7 of the last 16 years. I see the dominance and you have to acknowledge the 400 lb gorilla in the room.
This time the hare runs and runs and runs and passes and passes and passes. The tortoise gets to the finish line but the hare is already there.
The Eagles show that the Kansas City victory in Week 1 was no fluke. Eagles run away with it and it restores order to the NFL force.
The Virginator would like to thank everyone for another great year. I appreciate all of your support and wish you the very best.
See you in August!
Have a safe Spring and Summer.
Tim can now be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and welcomes your opinions on the Diary of a Fantasy Virgin Articles.