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It's Superbowl Time
I'll make guacamole and watch commercials while McNabb takes on "The Borg"
by John Blagtas on Feb 04, 2005
You, I and even my mom know it's Superbowl time. That's when everybody comes together -- fan and non-fan alike -- to hang out, make that special little party treat only they know how to make, and yes, watch commercials. Hell, if the weather holds up, we could even be BBQing and watching commercials. That'd be nice. But there is this little matter of who will win the game...
Everybody is saying the words, "New England", "Brady", "Belechick", "dynasty" and why not, they've proven everybody wrong before (myself included). I thought the Colts would be in this game against Philly. But no, the Patriots would hear no such talk and easily disposed of Manning and Co. They've shown themselves able to play a unique game, Borg-like in their ability to adapt to what the opponent wants to do and taking that away. Pretty scary stuff if you're the opponent. Pretty amazing stuff if you're a fan.
So, does this game pose any new challenges that might throw a wrench into the gears of inevitability? Well, the Eagles are a very good team both offensively and on defense. They are more balanced than any other team not named the "New England Patriots". And, if you'll excuse my "Trekiness", they do have their own Picard in McNabb. He's my favorite player in the league -- no nonsense, tough, does the little things to get the win. The Pats haven't seen anybody of this caliber who can scramble around to give the receivers that extra second or two or if the receivers are still covered rattle off a quick ten yarder.
Secondly they have T.O.(?) Yes, the big mouth is probably going to play at his self-evaluated 81%. And that's better than most when they're at 110%. So there will have to be some scheming by New England's coaches for him. But more appropriately the real number two the Eagles have is Brian Westbrook.
He's simply been amazing in these playoffs. Not one for gaudy stats, he just puts up effective stats -- hard third down runs and clutch catches when the Eagles need them most. The challenges he poses are numerable but his main asset is speed. Against any linebacker, he'll probably win that battle eight times out of ten.
Lastly, on defense, the pass rush of the Eagles is also very solid. They love to blitz from all angles. Their pressure gives the corners a chance to gamble a bit. Just something to look out for.
So, that all you got Philly? In my mind it's plenty to pull off the upset. In order for that to happen let's recap:
1) McNabb will have to be the one putting the pressure on the D by running, rolling out and throwing acurately. Rothschild couldn't do it. Manning either. Chance of this happening? GOOD
2) The big play will have to go the way of the Eagle. If Eagle receivers can combine to give the Eagles three or four big 25+ yard gains, the game will
definitely become different. Pittsburgh got in two of these plays and the Colts ZERO. Chance of this happening? NOT GOOD
3) Pass rush, pressure on Brady. The Steelers have as good a pass rush as anybody and they got to Brady twice. Let's say the Eagle and Steeler defenses are equal, which they're not. It's not the defense, it's Brady; he knows when to throw it away. Effective rush? Chance of this happening? NOT GOOD
4) Something I haven't talked about yet: Special Teams. Special Teams can turn a game around. A long runback. A missed field goal. It's a big psychological factor. Since the Patriots play many regular down players on Special Teams, I don't expect any breakdowns from them. The Eagles hope for some "decided advantage" in this dept. Chance of this happening? NOT GOOD
Let's move to the other side of the ball where you can expect Wizard Belichick and Co. are doing some scheming of their own. What he will do isn't exactly known. That's why he's a wizard. But basically we know his team will probably not self-destruct. (By self-destruct, I mean that somehow New England doesn't come through on 2), 3) and 4) above.) If that's the case, I can't see any other result than ticker tape parades in Boston with the New England Patriots repeating as champion: 30 - 22. As you can see, this isn't nuclear science.
That said, the heart of champion is hard to kill. It's intangible. And McNabb is a champion. He is "the" key to what the Eagles hope to do. Without an incredible game by him, the Pats win. Unfortunately I expect him to be "just" effective, not incredible, keeping the game close. People will say what a hell of game McNabb played. So bringing back that Picard reference one last time, it took a miracle for Picard to survive and defeat the Borg. Unfortunately this is not Hollywood, it's Jacksonville, and in this finale, McNabb goes down, taking his Eagles with him.
by John Blagtas on Feb 04, 2005