Another Superbowl, and like a bad rash, those Patriots just won’t go away. OK, that was a little cruel, but I think many people are waiting for this dynasty to end, and even predicting its downfall, yet time and again the Pats find ways to win, especially when it really matters. And that’s what
goodgreat teams do. Having attended last year’s Superbowl, I was awestruck witnessing the most amazing comeback ever. Games like this affect everyone. For the winning team, it gives them the self-belief that they can prevail no matter what. For the other 31 teams, it leaves a thought sitting in the back of their minds that the game is never over – never truly won – until it’s over.
The thing is, there is a formula for beating the Patriots. I wrote about it ten years ago, when they beat the Jaguars in the playoffs. It starts in the trenches – with a defensive front that can break through and pressure/sack Brady. His protection is just so good that very few teams are able to pressure him. The Giants were able to, and won the ultimate prize. Last year the Falcons did, but only for the first half. The other ‘mistake’ they made was that they scored too quickly, and only had about 11 minutes of clock at half time. That contributed to a tiring defence in the second half. So here’s the formula:
- Get to Brady: pressure, hits & sacks
- On offence, run the ball and control the clock
- Play the entire game. Not 45 minutes. Not 55. Not 59. 60 minutes.
On paper, the Eagles might have the goods. Punishing backs Blount (against his old team), and Ajayi (a fantastic mid-season pickup from the Dolphins) will take pressure off Nick Foles, who showed great composure in the pocket last week despite some weak performances after star QB Wentz was lost to injury. But as mentioned, they will win this game with their defensive pressure on Brady. A few hits and sacks, and he too will make mistakes.
The battle of the coaches is especially important. Bellichick is an outstanding coach, and one thing he does better than most is half-time changes. So even if the Eagles get the jump in the first half, there will be a plan B, C & D waiting for them in the second.
Betting: my recommendations last year were a total bust, and this year, big money is coming into the Eagles, pushing the line down to Patriots -4.5, and total points has moved from 47 to 48.5. This rush of odds-shifting money is a ‘stay away’ signals for me, although the over on total points is still somewhat attractive. If the Eagles start well, I’d bet in-play on a Patriots comeback, which is one of the safest bets there is!