Black Quarterback: Super Bowl 52 Preview and Pick
By Brandon Simmons
It’s only fitting that Minneapolis, a very unappealing city, is hosting the Super bowl with an unappealing matchup. The Philadelphia Eagles will take on the New England Patriots which does not appear to be a competitive matchup on paper, even though both teams are number one seeds in their conference. The Eagles have stormed to the top of the NFC with quarterback Carson Wentz until he was injured in Week 14 and lost for the season. Enter in quarterback Nick Foles, who has played well enough to keep Philadelphia at number one in the conference, alongside a defensive unit that has given some of the quarterbacks in the league some major problems. But none of those quarterbacks have a sniff of the pedigree that Tom Brady has at quarterback. While the New England Patriots started off bumpy on defense, Brady remained consistent orchestrating the offense until both units were able to come together as an unstoppable postseason force. Now both teams are in Super Bowl 52, with Philly being an apparent underdog, but there’s a little bit more to their bite than what people are barking.
The Eagles are not exactly the underdog you take to the pastures to put a bullet in; their defense makes them a Rottweiler on a flimsy chain. Philadelphia came into the postseason with the number 2 ranked defense and they showed it against the Minnesota Vikings in their division round 38-7 win. The pick 6 by Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson set the tone, as the team made stop after stop and allowed the offense to provide the rest of the scoring in the game. Against the #1 defense from the regular season, Foles finished the game with 352 yards passing, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. He wasn’t exactly going deep too many times, but rather hitting receivers on mid-range and keeping the ball moving against a stout Vikings defense.
Once again, the New England Patriots are America’s pick to win the title. Down 20-10 in the middle of the 4th quarter, Brady led a fiery comeback that saw him throw for 2 touchdowns and take a 24-20 victory. How could you bet against a guy like Brady who has made it his mission to win at all costs? With no impactful defense, and not a lot of significant names on offense, he is the one constant of the team that determines much of New England’s success. When Brady is getting in his zone, nothing can stop him. It also helps that he has some weapons on his side such as wide receivers Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan. Cooks plays more of a deep threat of the group while Hogan and Amendola take on the unassuming wide receiver role and sneak in a couple of big plays. Next thing you know, they would each get over 100 yards receiving and a couple of touchdowns between them. Of course, there is tight end Rob Gronkowski, New England’s ultimate offensive piece outside of Brady, who will be playing in this Sunday’s game after suffering a concussion in the AFC championship game. You saw it last season against the Atlanta Falcons and a couple of weeks ago against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Those 2 games share the same individual I refer to as “Comeback Tom”, who has bestowed wonder upon on our eyes and spurned memes of the unfortunate opponents.
That 4th quarter will be where everything is pretty much determined for this game. Why is that so? Well that’s where Brady has been acting a fool in the postseason as of late. In the Super Bowl against the Seahawks, it was the 4th quarter where Brady began pulled off the victory by overcoming a 10 point deficit heading into the final 15 minutes. There are still jokes being ran on the Falcons after they reached a 28-3 lead late in the 3rd quarter of last year’s Super Bowl and was victim to one of the greater comebacks in NFL history. It was only as recent as a few weeks ago that Brady put on a 4th quarter showcase against the Jacksonville Jaguars to take that 4 point victory. Each case all seem to have similar attributes as well: stifle the Patriots’ offense for 3 quarters and get confident and then BOOM…Tom Brady comes out of nowhere with an explosive half/quarter to build up his confidence and take the win.
However, the Eagles are no small task when trying to employ a comeback because it might not even happen. The difference between the Patriots’ comeback victims and the Eagles, is that those other teams had no success in scoring in the 2nd half. The Falcons had the 1 touchdown in the 3rd quarter, but they could not sustain a drive to retain the football. Philadelphia scored the pick 6 in the 1st quarter of the Vikings game, and kept piling on Minnesota with points, due to the long drives they were able to hold throughout the game.
The Patriots’ comeback opponents could have had some long drives if not for one man: Bill Belichick. Belichick has been known to take away the strengths of an opponent, just like he did with the Jaguars by taking away their running game. That left Jacksonville unable to produce any time consuming drives and afforded Brady the late game opportunities to score those late touchdowns. Understand this, in a good way, Nick Foles is not Blake Bortles. Foles has some quality starting experience and has proven to be a little more of a legit replacement for Carson Wenzt, at the moment. However, as it gets later in the game, is Foles trusted enough to make a play that will seal a victory for the Eagles? Also, can this Philly defense get after the various weapons at Brady’s disposal for a whole 60 minutes. Brady might be 40, but his options are just as young and fast, as well as able to provide some detrimental matchup issues. It seems less likely, but it also appears that it would be more of Brady knowing this offense and where his targets will be. It might be cool to root against the Patriots but this will be one of those times you will have to save your jeers for next year, as they will take this win.
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