When I started writing for Pats Pulpit about halfway through the 2017 season, I was hoping for the chance to write a pre-Super Bowl column that involved the Patriots. As I mentioned in my column from a few days ago, I love Super Bowl week, regardless of which teams are playing. It’s my absolute favorite week of the year. I inhale all of the buildup and hype leading up to the big game as if I was at the buffet at Golden Corral.
Most importantly, I love writing about Super Bowl week. Last year, I was on a temporary hiatus from writing, so I didn’t write a single word about the Super Bowl. Prior to that, when I was the sports editor at my college newspaper, I would go all in and all out for Super Bowl week, always going the extra mile to put together a super cool feature for the big game. And I loved every second of it.
Of course, it always means a little more when the New England Patriots, my favorite team until the day I die, are involved. And as the Pats go for their third Super Bowl title in four years against the Eagles on Sunday, and their sixth title of the Brady-Belichick era, I’m sitting here thinking about how my life has evolved over the course of New England’s last three appearances in the Big Game.
I turned Super Bowl 49 into a big feature for my college newspaper, and then the Pats pulled off the most memorable Super Bowl victory of my lifetime (at least in my opinion, which I covered a few months ago) thanks to Malcolm Butler. Two years later, I was on a hiatus from writing because I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with my life (that tends to happen many times during your 20s). Meanwhile, the Patriots came back from down 28-3 – the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history – to earn their second title in three years. And now, one year later, I’m a staff writer for Pats Pulpit, I know that I want to spend the rest of my life writing sports columns, and the Patriots are one win away from their second trifecta since 2001.
Believe me, if you haven’t quite reached your 20s yet, you’ll find out that life sure is something else. If you have, then you know all too well what I mean.
And now, it’s time to write that pre-Super Bowl column involving the Patriots that I had been hoping to write for months. Will the Patriots be able to get it done on Sunday against the Eagles?
Let’s put it this way: I would like Philly’s chances to win this game a lot more if Carson Wentz was playing. I’m sure most people feel that way. In only his second season, Wentz has already elevated himself to elite status. If you’re playing fantasy football next year, you might want to draft him as your team’s quarterback early on. He’s undoubtedly in the top three or four most exciting quarterbacks to watch, and it’s just because he’s that good. He’s just oozing with God-given talent.
When Wentz went down with a torn ACL in Los Angeles back in early December, it was about as devastating a loss as any team could suffer. I thought the Eagles’ hopes of actually making it to the Super Bowl were dashed right then and there. After all, Nick Foles was their backup quarterback, and did anybody really think he was going to put the team on his back and lead them to the promise land? Nobody did, but then suddenly, he turned into a postseason hero, leading Philadelphia, as home underdogs, to back-to-back playoff wins over the Falcons and the Vikings to reach the Super Bowl. And now the media, and Eagles fans, are eating up the story of how Foles is the hero Philadelphia needed.
But I just can’t buy into it. There is one more game that they have to win, on the biggest stage in the world, against the best team of the last two decades, and I just can’t see Foles getting it done this time. In order to win the game, the Eagles will have to pound the heck out of Tom Brady. They are a pretty good team when it comes to pressuring opposing quarterbacks, but there’s no QB in the league better at handling that kind of defensive pressure than Brady. If there’s one thing he’s learned from those two Super Bowl losses to the Giants, that has to be it.
Even if Philly can manage to beat Brady down and disrupt New England’s offense, Foles will still have to make a couple of big plays in order to actually win the game. This time around, against this team, on this stage, I just don’t think he has it in him.
The Patriots are too good and too experienced. Their biggest offensive weapon, Rob Gronkowski, has cleared the concussion protocol and will be ready to play on Sunday. There isn’t a bigger threat in the league for big plays than when Brady connects with Gronk. Meanwhile, when the Pats need to take pressure off Brady, Dion Lewis, who singlehandedly clinched the AFC title game against the Jaguars with a long first down run in the waning seconds, will be ready to run the ball down Philly’s throats.
After it’s all said and done on Sunday, amidst the subzero winter temperatures of Minneapolis, Minnesota, I have a pretty good feeling we’ll be talking about how Tom Brady is still the greatest quarterback of all time, Bill Belichick is still the greatest coach of all time, and, with six Lombardi Trophies in seventeen years, the New England Patriots are the greatest NFL dynasty of all time.
The King’s pick: Patriots 27, Eagles 14.