Super Bowl Preview Week is here!
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
In less than a week, a new Super Bowl champion will be crowned. Will Tom Brady hoist up a 6th Lombardi Trophy in his recently stitched hand? Or will the Eagles clinch their first Super Bowl win in their storied history with a backup QB who defied all odds on his second term with a team that traded him away in 2015?
We gear up in this Super Bowl Preview for the big game and digest the stats, odds, and likely outcomes, lets look at the game’s setting, why it has the potential to be more entertaining off the field and why the Patriots are one of the only teams to have the world rooting against them and for a team whose fanbase is deemed one of the more unlikable in world sports.
The NFL is supposed to be a league where parity is King. The last placed team receive the first pick in the NFL Draft the following year and there is enough analysis now to ensure that the best college players are not about guesswork but surety. In a sport where a salary cap ensures the playing field is level financially, building a dynasty is damn near impossible. The cycle is predictable: teams play well, players excel, their late draft standing puts them at a disadvantage whilst their star players responsible for their success demand bigger contracts and eventually the teams are forced to pay their stars, let others leave, gamble on rookies and youth with the team starting to suffer and falter. Eventually, they will miss the Playoffs and their management team will be replaced and the rebuilding phase kicks in. This is true for every team. Except the Bill Belichick led New England Patriots.
New England under the stewardship of Bill Belichick has done things that no team has done before considering the mechanics in place to try and ensure that no team dominates long term. Since taking over the reins in 2000, he has only had 2 seasons without 10+ wins. Both of these seasons were either end of a Super Bowl victory. A Super Bowl that Tom Brady, a 6th round compensatory draft pick, would lead the team to after replacing an injured Drew Bledsoe. Up to the current Super Bowl, Brady and Belichick have reached 8 Super Bowls, won 5, played in an astonishing 11 AFC Championship games and Brady holds a litany of NFL records, particularly in the postseason.
The Patriots are good. In fact, the Patriots are so good that people hate them. They have reached the level of success that makes people wholesale envy the franchise and those who don’t pine after their success, hate them simply because they are bored of the predictable nature of their winning seasons. Add to this the controversy that has surrounded some of their Lombardi trophy winning runs such as the Tuck Rule saga, Deflate-gate, and Spygate. Belichick and the Patriots have also been accused of being a system based team with Brady being a ‘system quarterback’. In short, people remark that ‘anyone’ would be able to win playing in their system and that Brady isn’t special. If the NFL was this simplistic, every team would put this system in place and QBs wouldn’t be such a remarkable and as an expensive a commodity.
The Bad and the Ugly
This Super Bowl has the potential to be an explosive one both on and off the field. That isn’t a good thing. As fan-bases go, the Eagles fan base has seen itself in the news recently for extreme behavior. Every sports team can have a section of the fan-base that takes things too far, be it online or on gameday but the Philadelphia Eagles fan-base have gained a bad reputation over the decades with their stadium being a widely known hotspot for hostility. After the NFC Championship game played last week, stories of extreme behaviour and videos of families being abused whilst making their way to the game have made international headlines and reinforced their reputation of being a violent and dangerous rabble.
I feel sorry for the majority of their supporters who cheer on the team and despair at the way their name is being sullied by the violent outbursts but the incidents warrant shock and news coverage. Below are just a few recent occurrences:
- An Eagles fan was arrested after the NFC Championship game for punching a police horse. Twice. It comes a week after an identical incident the week before during the Divisional Game.
- Multiple videos surfaced of families being verbally abused and intimidated walking to Lincoln Financial Field whilst closed beer cans were flung at them.
- Reports of fans being sucker punched at random at the game with some victims being hospitalized
- Poles around the city were greased up to try and prevent fans from scaling them after the game. Many videos surfaced showing fans managing to climb them anyway.
- Eagles fans drove a dune buggy up the ‘Rocky Steps’ after the win
Of course, not all Eagles fans are pole climbing, dune buggy riding, shirtless horse punching maniacs but they prove to have the most extreme fan base in the NFL. The potential for similar violence is twofold on Sunday because not only will they have the opportunity to square up to the Patriots’ fan base, but they will be attending the game (either in the stadium if lucky/wealthy and in the surrounding area) in the epicentre of Vikings country. The Vikings were the favourites to reach their first-ever home game Super Bowl but their dreams were scuppered by the Eagles. Not only that, the Eagles’ fans were seen taunting the Vikings post game, not even their oldest fan Millie, the 99-year-old who captured the nation’s hearts was safe from unsavory banners and chants. Will there be fights breaking out en masse between Eagles and Vikings fans hitting our screens on Sunday? Will the fanbase be hyper-conscious after press coverage received after their pasting of the Vikings and be on their best behavior?
Who is going to win?
There are some very interesting statistics and factors that show that this game isn’t as cut and dry as some analysts think it is. To hear all about these crucial points and who I am backing on Sunday, be sure to tune into the final Road to the Super Bowl Vlog released Thursday exclusively on the BetBright Blog!