In Super Bowl XLII, the NY Giants were facing the 18-0 New England Patriots. They were 13 point underdogs. How did they win?
In the week leading up to the game, the coaching staff told the Giants players (paraphrased): “if everyone individually does the ordinary, then the accomplishment of the team can be extraordinary.” What were they talking about? Blocking. Tackling. Taking care of the football. Catching the ball before going upfield. Sticking to your assignment. No dumb penalties. Don’t overpursue.
DO YOUR JOB!
It may sound oversimplistic, but this is why Bill Belichick is where he is. He is knocking on the door to his 5th ring as a head coach, 7th ring… the list goes on. He gets more out of his players because he minds the details like no other coach. He gets his players to do their job. And if they do not do their job, they are quickly gone.
Eric Rowe is a perfect example of how a Belichick-coached team overachieves. Rowe was a Round 2 draft pick by the Eagles in 2015. He seemingly was a bust. The Eagles discarded him in a trade to the Patriots in 2016. The Patriots turned him into a serviceable player who does his job. He is certainly accomplishing more with the Pats than he would have with the Eagles, or likely most other teams. The rub is that, as a “serviceable” player, he is going to be exposed if a better athlete/unit of Atlanta does their job. Belichick has outcoached others in getting to the big show with players like Rowe. It is up the Falcons to go one notch higher and take advantage of these matchups.
The Atlanta Falcons are expected to make mistakes and the New England Patriots are expected to play crisp football. This is why the Patriots are favored. We looked at the anecdotal surveys of who the journalists and bloggers select, and it is heavily weighted toward the Patriots. The reason they uniformly supply for why they pick the favorite? They can’t bet against Brady, Belichick and the experience factor. Fully 75% of our sample picked the Patriots, echoing the public money flow in Vegas. Just because more of the public likes one side does not mean they are wrong. Typically it does not end well for that side. All they have to be is correct ~52% of the time to be ahead.
We broke down why Atlanta is the better team in the previous post. Now the players have to take the field and play the game. If the Atlanta players do their job and execute, they win. If they do dumb things like take a 5 yard holding call on 3rd & 19, they will lose. If they abandon their responsibility on a misdirection play, they will let NE stay on the field and give Brady more chances. As long as Atlanta is disciplined and does the ordinary things, they will win. If the ATL mistakes pile up, the outcome will not be a surprise to the 75% who reasoned that way.
Let’s be fair to the Patriots too. They execute. They put pressure on you and force you to be your best. They take advantage of mistakes. They capitalize on your weaknesses. So it is not surprising why people like that kind of team; most opponents will buckle under that kind of weight. 89% of the time, this is what has happened. And when Brady was QB they won 93% of the time. New England really only had one loss, to Seattle.
The hype is done. Play the game!