UltimateNYG is a strong handicapper of Super Bowls. Read what we said about last year’s Super Bowl. I don’t know how we could have nailed that game any better. We pointed who the better team was (Atlanta) and also said that it was Atlanta’s game to win or lose. “It is in their hands.” We cannot control whether or not Quinn is halfway competent or a complete Neanderthal. Atlanta choked the greatest lead in Super Bowl history. We are just thankful that the Falcons are not our team, because if my team blew that lead, I’d be bungee jumping without a cord.
The opinion of this writer is that the NFC was a much stronger conference this year. Consider this set of facts about the juggernaut AFC:
- The Patriots beat the Titans, a team that won because the better team (Chiefs) choked a 21-3 lead.
- The Patriots beat the Jaguars, a team that went into the Prevent at minute 29 of a 60 minute game.
- Maybe you weren’t paying attention. The Patriots are in the Super Bowl because they beat the Titans and Jaguars. That was the best the AFC had to offer. And the Pats needed plenty of help to get through.
Let’s review the AFC Championship. The Jaguars were the better team. Belichick would have won by coaching either side. In the first half, the Jags kicked the Pats butt, but had little to show for it except a 4 point lead at halftime. It was a brilliant gameplan at the start. Patricia loaded the box to stop the Jags run game, and the Jaguars were ready, using a LIBERAL amount of play action to keep the Patriots off balance. The problem is that this wonderful use of play action disappeared in the fourth quarter when the Doug Marrone Charitable Foundation kicked into high gear with the Prevent Offense. I can hear Herm Edwards right now- you play to win the game. Marrone coached not to lose, so he lost.
Here is a quiz for first timers. You are up 14-10. You have the ball with 0:55 left in Q2. You have 2 timeouts. You are at the 25 yard line to start your drive. What do you do?
If you said “take a knee,” please leave this site and do not return. Just go.
This is what the Doug Marrone Charitable Foundation did to Belichick. They said- we have an extra possession and we won’t need that vs the Patriots or any other team we are playing in the AFC Championship. Who do you think you are, to piss away a possession like that? Do you think you are the ’85 Bears or the ’00 Ravens? That your defense is going to shut the other team out? This is Tom Brady you are playing against. Put more pressure on their Defense. Score.
Just as a little juxtaposition, the Eagles are up 21-7 over the Vikings, they get the ball with 0:29 left in Q2 with 3 timeouts, and they did what??? They drove down the field and almost scored a TD, but still collected a FG. 24-7. You play to win the game. When you don’t do that vs better teams (like in the playoffs), you get burned.
The Jags ran the ball on 1st down four straight times in 3 series in Q4 when they had the lead. They gained a grand total of 2 total yards on those carries because the Patriots had 14 men in the box awaiting that predictableness. How do you like those odds? I start with 4 downs, you start with 3. Let’s see how that works out. For the Jags, it worked out like this: 3&out, 5&out, and 3&out. And a 10 point lead blown. Maybe the Charitable Foundation was surprised that they were playing against the QB with the most come from behind victories in NFL history.
The less than quick summary is that the Patriots were donated a charitable gift to the Super Bowl. They said thank you very much and are representing a Conference that was underwhelming.
Let’s turn our attention to the NFC. The Saints, Vikings, Eagles and yes Quinns were all very good teams. The Rams, less their experience, may have been the biggest threat. The NFC was tested. I did not even list the Carolina Panthers in that group, and they beat the Pats earlier in the season.
Just like last year, I was waiting for the bloom to come off the rose of the Patriots vs the NFC representative. I did not know who that team would be because a good argument could be made for a number of solid teams. The team that emerged, surprising to me if only because Wentz was so much more dynamic, was the Eagles. Foles proved he was ready. The Offensive and Defensive Lines of the Eagles proved they were ready. There is only person left who needs to be ready. That is Doug Pederson, the Head Coach of the team. Will this NFL coach succomb to the trap and coast to a Prevent Loss? For heaven’s sake, the Falcons had a 25 point lead. For heaven’s sake, the Jaguars had a 10 point lead in Q4 with the ball. And let’s not forget that the Seahawks made the single worst playcall in history, choosing a slant at the goal line instead of Beastmode.
We dredge these things up not to be jealous about the Patriots. Our message is : THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE. AND WE LET THEM OFF THE HOOK. The Patriots are not a great team. They play for 60 minutes. That is all. At this level, in the playoffs, you cannot win and you will not win if you coach for less than all 60 minutes. The Eagles are the better team. They will win the battle of the line of scrimmage and they just have to play 60 minutes. That is a bitter pill for a NY Giants fan to admit, but I strive for objectivity no matter who is playing.
There were only 2 NFC teams with losing interconference records vs the AFC, the Lions and Falcons. The NFC was 41-23 vs the AFC. The AFC top to bottom was not very good. Someone had to make it out with a good record vs this garbage. The two best teams were the Patriots and Steelers. The Steelers limped through and collected anemic wins versus some bad teams. It showed in the playoffs when they went 1 and done. Someone made it out. The team that made less errors. That is usually a recipe for the Schottenheimers for how to win in the regular season, not the postseason. The post season for the Patriots begins when they play their first real team, an NFC team. They are stepping up in class.
The Patriots faced the NFC South and went 3-1 this year. But you have to look a little more closely at what happened. They played all of these games early, all 4 in fact in the first 7 weeks. They beat the Falcons when that team was losing 3 of 4 games. The Falcons, for their part, self-destructed in the red zone (blocked FG, missed FG, stopped on downs at the 1 yd line) with 0 points on 3 visits when it mattered. They beat the Saints in Week 2, sending them to 0-2, before the Saints Defense came together and won 8 straight. You cannot give Brady time to find Gronk (116 yds). The Eagles Defensive line will be a tougher challenge. The Patriots struggled but managed to squeak out a victory vs the Bucs. They lost to the Panthers in a high scoring game.
The Eagles strongest assets are at the line of scrimmage. It is the reason why they have survived the loss of Wentz, not to mention Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks. The guy who does it all for the Eagles is Fletcher Cox. He is a disruptor up the middle, and if there is one place that you can get to Brady, it is by getting pressure in his face. Cox can do this almost singlehandedly. The Patriots rely on the woven OL of Dante Scarnechia, but that is scheme and cohesiveness above talent. The Eagles DL is very talented and will be the ones to watch. If they get to Brady, that should be the game. Schwartz, for his part, must send plenty of pressure. Put this 40 year old QB on his butt. Do not be afraid to send the extra man and get beat occasionally. Make sure Brady is not comfortable back there. Keep hitting him. He will show his age.
I believe Gronk will play, but how effective will he will be? If the Pats play a guy 2 weeks after a concussion, I am sorry but you have to punish both him and the Patriots for such recklessness. Hit him in his upper body. On run plays, go after him and jar him. He should be protective and ineffective, a decoy which will eventually be removed from the game for his own safety. Without Gronkowski (and Edelman, who was lost in preseason), it is the Amendola, Cooks and RB misdirection show. That can be managed. The Eagles have the LBers and #1 run defense to manage the misdirection that the Pats are known for. When the Patriots faced the Jacksonville Defense, they needed the pass interference calls and charity to get oxygen. The Eagles Defense is playing just as well.
On offense, the Eagles have just faced two of the best Defenses (#1 and #9) in the past 2 weeks. It is a step down vs New England (#29). Everyone is making a big deal about Foles as a backup, but Foles already got the hardest tests. New England’s pass defense is ranked #30th in the NFL. That’s right there with the porous Giants. This is where we are reminded that the Patriots can be beaten. Blake Bortles was carving them up when he was allowed to play.
Mike Lombardi makes an interesting point about the Jaguars approach versus New England and why the Eagles will do even better:
“I am going to tell you right now, I’m going to pick Philadelphia in the Super Bowl come hell or high water,” Lombardi said. “I think it’s a horrendous matchup for New England… What Jacksonville did in the first half, running Kansas City’s style of offense — spread the field, force you to play inside with power and then attack the edges — that’s been kryptonite for New England and that’s what Philly does all the time.”
It is time for the Patriots to finally be unmasked. Everyone fights the last battle. The last battle was the greatness of the Patriots. It makes them legends in their own time, with a +5 point spread to boot. The victor gets the spoils. Everyone respects the Patriots chances to win based on their recent Super Bowl track record- 2 wins in the past 3 years. This is why we have shown just how their opponents have lost these games. I acknowledge that the Patriots stepped through the door. They got the opportunities and they cashed their ticket. That’s what Belichick does. But please do not tell me that Carroll, Quinn and Marrone did not present this team with gift after gift. The PATS are very fortunate to be here. They are not a great football team. They are a good team that is efficiently coached in a weaker conference against weaker teams. The NFC is a stronger conference and the Eagles are their representative. It is the Eagles game to win or lose. If they take care of the ball and play 60 minutes, “it is in their hands” to win.