Previewing Super Bowl 52: New England vs. Philadelphia
Well, here we are. Super Bowl Sunday is just days away and literally every possible angle and storyline has been beaten to death. We’re sick of it.
I’ve read countless profiles of Tom Brady and his Facebook series, Bill Belichick’s unexpected cheerful demeanor during media interviews, Nick Foles’ journey from impending retirement to the biggest stage in football. Is there anything else? Does Danny Amendola have a cat? Fletcher Cox sleep with the lights on? Doug Pederson own Tevas?
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
The towel has been wrung completely dry. So, allow me to go on a tangent and start this Super Bowl preview with one piece of advice:
Don’t be that person.
This is for those of you throwing or going to a party on Sunday. Don’t be that person. Every shindig has one. The guy or girl (most likely a friend of a friend) who arrives early, goes straight for the hard liquor and throws back three old-fashioneds, another three IPAs and a glass of champagne before the national anthem.
Sure, they might be fun for about an hour. They’re flying on top of the world, energetically sociable and fun. Predictably, the next step is for this clown to somehow grab a bottle of tequila and organize a couple rounds of group shots. And then ….
The alcohol takes effect.
And what happens next has the possibility of ruining the gathering. First, they start walking around asking random people for a cigarette. Then, it’s interrupting conversations with nonsensical and slightly slurred questions. Then, it’s yelling that Tom Brady is a douche when the Eagles have the ball. Then, it’s telling someone how bad your trip to Philadelphia was and how the people there are jerks when the party is full of Eagles fans. Then, it’s yelling about wanting to go to In ‘N Out in the second quarter.
And finally, their evening ends either with them passed out at the kitchen table or by the toilet.
Doesn’t sound like fun, right? So, do everyone a favor. Pace yourself. And if you spot a friend about to embark on that downward spiral, stop them from doing so.
Alrighty, time to talk football.
NAMES TO WATCH
Danny Amendola: Here’s a guy we all used to love. He was the ultimate scrapper, from the time we first saw him as a rookie on ‘Hard Knocks,’ when Jerry Jones told him the Cowboys would love to put him on the practice squad. Then he caught on with the Rams and gutted his way into a full-time job. Had he just stayed there, everything would be fine. But nooooo. He had to go to New England, making him instantly annoying. That clutch touchdown catch he had against the Jaguars in the AFC title game? Had he been wearing any other uniform, I would have been thrilled. But because of that jersey, the most I could muster was a grunt. You just know he’s going to do something big at a crucial moment on Sunday. Friggin’ guy.
LeGarrette Blount: Is experience overrated? It’s debatable, but the Patriots have an overwhelming advantage. New England has 32 players with Super Bowl experience, compared to just six for Philadelphia. But one of those Eagles is Blount, who spent several seasons in a Patriots uniform. He knows what the opposition likes to run and along with Jay Ajayi, will be counted on to grind out tough yards.
Nick Foles: Yes, I know. Duh, the quarterback is important. But as we learned in the AFC championship game, it’s not enough to play turnover-free. You have to drive the ball downfield against the Patriots and get those crucial “chunk” plays (hate that term). Avoid taking negative plays and like I’ve said, keep those chains moving on critical third downs.
Stephon Gilmore: After all the hoopla early in the season about how Gilmore wasn’t fitting properly into New England’s defensive scheme, there he was against the Jaguars making a crucial play late. Wouldn’t be surprised to hear his name pop up again at an important moment.
Trey Flowers: The defensive lineman is probably the Patriots’ best pass-rushing threat. He can be lined up anywhere and has the ability to beat any position that tries to block him. If he gets to Foles early, look out.
Jim Schwartz: Yes, the Eagles’ front seven is fearsome. But the Patriots face vicious pass-rushes all the time and they do the same thing: Tom Brady takes quick drops and gets the ball out of his hands within three seconds. So, Philly’s defensive coordinator better have something up his sleeve to keep New England off balance, or else we’re going to see a lot of long drives.
WHAT’S THE CHATTER?
Bill Belichick: Will he retire? With a win on Sunday, he’d tie such coaching legends as Vince Lombardi and George Halas with six NFL championships. He’s already on Mt. Rushmore, and with another ring, what else does he have to accomplish? Then again, Bill seems like the kind of guy who lives for his work and that’s not something that can be changed. Not at his age.
Gronk: He’s out of the concussion protocol, but I don’t know how effective he’s going to be. It genuinely looked like his brain got scrambled on the hit that knocked him out of the AFC title game. I’m a fan of the guy, but I hate seeing him get hurt every season. At some point, he needs to walk away from the game while he still can.
Tom Brady: Good lord, have you seen that “Tom vs. Time” nonsense? He’s not a normal person. And while everyone gushes over his dedication and his love of watching film, I see a maniac.
Philly in Phlames: What happens if the Eagles hoist the Lombardi Trophy? The City of Brotherly Love will turn into a remake of “The Warriors.” There’s not enough Crisco in the world to keep the entire population off the telephone poles. Fingers crossed nobody gets hurt.
Prop bets: Every season brings a new group. Will Justin Timberlake perform a Prince song? How many times will Carson Wentz be mentioned? What color will the Gatorade be? All I know is no matter the bet, I’ll lose.
THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
Ultimately, this game is somewhat of a disappointment. The coolest thing would have been to see the Vikings face the Patriots in their own home stadium. Failing that, the Eagles are an acceptable alternative, but they don’t have Carson Wentz, who was on his way to being named MVP before tearing up his knee.
So, now we’re left with (all due respect) Nick Foles vs. Tom Brady. And while the Patriots have never had a blowout win in the Super Bowl, I have a suspicion that ends this year.
I’m sorry, Philadelphia. Here’s my pick:
Patriots 38, Eagles 13.
It’s been a great season! Enjoy the game!