Hope you enjoyed it, Eagles lovers, because what I saw on the sidelines was a warning sign that Philadelphia has already won its Super Bowl. A number of players could be spotted crying on the sidelines, and the same focus and drive just won’t be there this Sunday.
Some might argue that with the Patriots coming off a championship season, New England just won’t want it as badly as the Eagles. But experience is going to be the Pats’ biggest weapon. They’ve been there, done that, and this game is just more unfinished business. Hype doesn’t faze this team.
Toss in the fact that Bill Belichick has had two weeks to prepare for the big game. Football’s ultimate mastermind deserves every ounce of credit he receives, and while the Eagles’ coaching staff isn’t exactly a slouch, nobody is better than Belichick right now.
Speaking of the best in the game, Patriots
quarterback Tom Brady is just that. His numbers
aren’t as gaudy as Peyton Manning’s or
Daunte Culpepper’s, but the Joe Montana
comparisons are apt. Brady gets exponentially
better as the stakes get higher, and he must
be considered the most clutch player in the
NFL. The Pats take it, maybe
Patriots 24, Eagles 10
—Ian Van Den Hurk
Super Bowl XXXIX features one of the best powerhouse clashes in recent memory, with the two participants posting a combined 31-5 record in the regular season and playoffs.
With two titles in three years, anything but another victory would be an outright failure for New England. The Eagles, on the other hand, have already surpassed expectations simply by reaching the big dance. Their “Gatorade dump” on coach Andy Reid after the NFC championship proved that they already see their year as a success.
Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook should provide heroics, but the Eagles will be hopeless unless someone else contributes offensively. Terrell Owens returns from his ankle injury and looks to be Philly’s saviour; expect him to look like Randy Moss on Sunday — not the usual superfreak Moss, but the hobbled, poor excuse for a decoy version that was practically invisible in the Vikings’ loss to the Eagles three weeks ago.
The Eagles’secondary holds a candle to the Patriot receiving corps, but Corey Dillon is the first bonafide feature running back to match up against the Philly linebackers this postseason and should create major headaches.
Don’t expect a blowout, but Bill
Belicheck’s Pats have far too many experienced
playmakers on both sides of the ball
for Philly to handle.
Patriots 27, Eagles 17
Why do people think this game is going to be close?
New England has raised the bar in terms of smart clutch football over the past few seasons, and it has been dominant this postseason by grounding the high-flying Colts and outmuscling the Steelers.
With two weeks to prepare for the Eagles, Bill Belichick no doubt has another ingenious game plan ready. It really doesn’t matter if a star like Terrell Owens plays or not, since if he does manage to overcome his ankle injury, he’ll find himself becoming just another victim of the Pats’ stifling defense. T.O. and fellow loudmouth receiver Freddie Mitchell are going to be shut up in a major way on Sunday.
This isn’t to say that the Eagles are a bunch of jobbers; no team that goes 13-3 can be taken lightly. That said, teams from the AFC were 44-20 against NFC teams this past year. Philly was only 2-2 against the AFC, and their two wins were by a total of eight points against non-playoff teams Baltimore and Cleveland.
The biggest edge that the Pats have, however,
is the fact that they know what it takes
to win. After finally making the Super Bowl
after three NFC title game losses, the Eagles
are still figuring it out. The dynasty talk gets
a little bit louder as the Patriots roll to their
third Super Bowl in four years.
Patriots 30, Eagles 13
There are days when you make your football picks according to stats, point spreads and what the rest of the sports commentating community tells the world.
Then there are days like these.
Sure, on paper the New England Patriots seem like a superior team compared to the Philadelphia Eagles; no doubt you’ve been told a thousand times over that the Pats are the ultimate playoff team, that they are perfect in the clutch and that Tom Brady’s sparkly blue eyes and chin cleft will forever rule over all who oppose him.
But I hasten to remind these people that the football gods do not always favour the best team on paper.
Consider this: New England’s secondary is so suspect that a woeful Miami picked it apart in the regular season with long passes — something Donovan McNabb can do upon command — and forced numerous Brady miscues with intense pressure on the pocket, which is a feat the Philly defense, led by defensive end Jevon Kearse and middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, can perform.
If the Pats decide to unleash their blitzcrazy defense, McNabb can still scramble and pick up those crucial first downs.
Sure, this pick might seem like the odd
one of the bunch, but the football gods have
a favourite and they don’t listen to everyone
Eagles 30, Patriots 21