This Will Not Be Tom Brady’s Last Hurrah, and It will be a Prolific One
By Cam Giangrande
The Big Game is upon us. Everyone and their brothers have made their picks. I figure I may as well jump into the water too. Some are saying that this is the Patriots swan song. Win or lose on Sunday; this will not be Tom Brady’s last Super Bowl appearance with the Patriots. He will be leading the Pats in Atlanta, on February 3, 2019, at Super Bowl LIII.
Every Patriots Super Bowl appearance has been a nail biter, often coming down to the last series, or play. In fact, the largest margin of victory in any of their games, was last year when they won by six points in overtime. Logic would say this will be a close game. Early bettors agreed; the line went down from 5.5 to 4 points.
Boston is ready for the Super Bowl. ❤ pic.twitter.com/E2CIVXQnVw
— Only In Boston (@OnlyInBOS) February 4, 2018
The two teams are remarkably similar, which would also point to a close game. They each finished the regular season as their conference’s top seed with matching 13-3 records. Philadelphia has actually looked better in the playoffs, having dispatched last year’s NFC representative, the Atlanta Falcons; and followed it up with a dominating win, (38-7), against the Minnesota Vikings. The Patriots, on the other hand, have looked sluggish at times, having to pull out yet another patented come-from-behind victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars. They were 9.5 point favorites, yet only won 24-20, thanks to Brady’s heroics.
If we compare the team’s stats, we see more similarities. The Pats and Eagles have each scored 28.6 points during the regular season. The Pats have given up 18.5 points, (after Week 4 they were giving up 32 ppg), while the Eagles have given up 18.4 points for the season. If we compare yards gained, the Pats gained more and gave up more. They led the league, getting 394 yards per game. On defense they often implemented a bend, don’t break approach, giving up 366 ypg. Based on yardage, the Eagles appear to be the more balanced team. On offense they rank seventh. getting 365 ypg. On defense, they rank fourth, only giving up 306 yards on average each week.
If we look at the kicking game, the Patriots have the edge with Stephen Gostkowski. He’s had a solid season, going 37-40 in field goal attempts. Eagles kickers have missed five, making 29 out of 34 kicks. A missed field goal in a big game can change momentum and field position.
During this Patriots run since 2001; they have one remarkable stat that cannot be overlooked. When they score at least 20 points in a playoff game, including the Super Bowl, they are 25-2. Although this Eagles team has a solid defense, I don’t think they are as good as those Giants teams beat the Pats twice. Nor, do I think they are as good as the Broncos teams that beat them in the AFC Playoffs either. I cannot imagine this Patriots team scoring under 20 points.
Add to that the biggest issue facing the Eagles, their quarterback is on crutches. Although Nick Foles is a serviceable quarterback, he’s not Carson Wentz. When we look at the Eagles, we have to look at them in two phases: The dominant team that steamrolled through 13 weeks of the season behind Wentz; and the team the Pats will be facing with Foles under center. I am doubtful that a Bill Belichick-led team, with two weeks to prepare, won’t put together a game plan to disrupt Foles.
You can probably guess that based on my commentary that I’m taking the Patriots. First let me say, I think this game can break the pattern for the Patriots, and can be a blowout. I can also see a situation where the Eagles actually blow the Pats out.
If they can get ahead by two scores early; possibly 14-0 or 14-3, The Eagles dominate the entire game and win going away. The Patriots cannot continue to ring that bell, and simply hand the ball to Brady assuming he will always get the job done. There will not be a 28-3 comeback in Brady’s bag of tricks this year. So the Pats will have to start well. Here’s another weird fact; during this run with Brady and Belichick, the Pats have been in seven Super Bowls: do you know how many points they’ve scored in the first quarter? ZERO! That’s correct; they have put up goose eggs in all seven games in the opening quarter. They have to score points early in this game.
The same way I don’t believe the Pats will be held under 20 points, I don’t believe their defense is good enough to hold the Eagles under 20 points either. The safest bet on the board should be the over, which is currently sitting at 48 points.
So here it is: the pick. I think the Pats break with tradition and actually score in the first quarter. I think coach Belichick will play for at least an early field goal to get the monkey off their backs. They’ll go up 3-0, and then give up a quick touchdown, with a long pass by Foles picking on the Pats secondary, to fall behind 7-3. I think they’ll come back and get their own touchdown, with a pass from Brady to Rob Gronkowski. The quarter will end with the Pats up 10-7.
The Eagles will get the ball starting the second quarter and get their second touchdown to go up 14-10. The Pats will come back with another field goal to make the score 14-13. On the Eagles’ next possession, Foles will go to the well once too often and throw an interception. Brady will get the TD with a quarterback sneak, and an emphatic spike. With the score now 20-14 Patriots, the Eagles will play it conservatively, and chew time off the clock and manage a field goal. At the half, the Patriots will be leading 20-17.
The Pats will begin the third quarter with another touchdown, with a long pass from Brady to Brandin Cooks, to go up 27-17. The Eagles, now down by two scores, continue to play it safe and get another field goal to get back to within seven points. The Pats get yet another touchdown, this time with Brady passing to Danny Amendola, finishing off a long drive. Entering the fourth quarter it’s now 34-20 and the game is basically over.
Philadelphia tries to make it interesting with a touchdown with just under 10 minutes left in the game, to get back within seven points to make the score 34-27. But Brady puts an exclamation point on the day with yet another six-plus minute drive, which ends with a touchdown to James White. With just under four minutes left and down by 14 points, Nick Foles throws his second interception of the day.
The Patriots methodically run the clock out and hoist their sixth Lombardi Trophy with a 41-27 victory.
The Patriots have the firepower to do it. What better way to continue to shut the doubters and haters up than to drop a 40 spot in the Super Bowl? Brady is maniacal and wants this one as badly as he wanted the first one. And in spite of being considered the GOAT, and winning more than anyone else on the big stage, he’s as driven as ever, and still thinks he has something to prove. If not to the world anymore; he continues to have something to prove to himself. He currently has a multi-part documentary out, titled “Tom vs Time”. Maybe the title should be “Tom vs Tom”, because at this stage of his career, he only has himself to compete against.