By: Shaun Morash
It took 52 years, 52 awesome NFL seasons, to get to the most likeable Super Bowl matchup of all time. The Eagles out of Philadelphia with a fan base seemingly embracing more than ever just how ridiculous and unnecessarily vile they can be. The Patriots, out of the Boston area, with a fan base who truly believes it is their given right to be in this game and have parades every season. Excuse me while I throw up.
Most NFL columns and writers will toe the company line and be professional on their opinion in this game. I, however, am writing this from the standpoint of being an NFL fan, which I will always be first and foremost, and the fan in me tells me this will suck.
I am someone who has lived in New York his entire life and is a lifelong Giants fan. Yes, my hatred for the Eagles as a fan runs deep. I can’t close my eyes without seeing DeSean Jackson return a punt to bury my favorite team’s season in 2010. My hatred for the Patriots really doesn’t exist; my favorite team is the only team to date to beat Tom and Bill on this stage. However, in New York you are trained to hate anything Boston-related when to comes to sports.
To the fans in Philadelphia and New England, the truth is I envy you. There is no greater joy than the two weeks leading into your team playing in this game. Cherish it and soak it in. Bitter old Mraz will hate every minute of it, as will many fans in America. That doesn’t matter, though; these two teams earned every ounce of this moment and every Patriots Super Bowl with Tom Brady has been a classic – or near classic – so the opportunity exists for the 2017 season to go out with one heck of a bang, even if everyone hates who is playing.
Five Yard Gain
1-The Patriots capitalize on breaks more than any other team. It is a testament that it takes a perfect game to beat them when the lights get brightest. However, the fact officials blew the fumble that Myles Jack recovered dead still bothers me days after the AFC Championship game. If the refs had ruled the play not a fumble on the field – and then saw in replay it was a fumble with clear recovery – I would have lived with it. However, to on the field rule it a fumble yet still blow the play dead when Jack recovers it and is never touched down is one of the all-time playoff blunders. That touchdown run back by Jack would have given the Jags a 17-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Instead, they were only up three two minutes later.
2-Case Keenum had it all before the NFC Championship game. I was on record of saying he was turning into Rich Gannon, a perennial backup who came alive as a starter later in his career. Instead it all unraveled and Keenum likely cost himself millions of dollars – and with good reason. Knowing what we know now, why would anyone trust he could be a franchise quarterback?
3-The Jaguars offseason will now be a fascinating one. Blake Bortles’ fifth-year option is in place, and in the last two games he played well enough to justify himself as the starting quarterback of this now powerhouse of a roster. However, his sample size for the entire season still wasn’t good (although he did handle all of the criticism with maturity and class). The Jaguars could be a sleeper candidate for Kirk Cousins this offseason. Nobody is even mentioning that as a fit, but if you are Jacksonville, why not go all in?
4-Kudos to the NFL and the Patriots for finally not botching concussion protocol while all eyes were on them. Rob Gronkowski left the game last Sunday visibly dazed to all of us watching at home, and I am sure many figured he would go to the locker room out of sight only to return and have the team sell everyone that proper protocol was taken. Only they didn’t and now the Patriots, who have a history of being shady, can point to this moment and show the world they did it the right way.
5-Nick Foles could be a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. I don’t think it will happen, but it is on the table and realistic. He contemplated retirement before returning to the Eagles as a backup. If he does win and becomes only the second quarterback to beat Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in the Super Bowl, does he get trade value as a starting quarterback again? Keep an eye on the Bills, Jets, and Redskins for Foles. His stock will never be higher. Maybe he is the Rich Gannon as opposed to Keenum.
I went 1-1 last week thanks to the Vikings turning into the dogs versus the dogs, bringing my season record to 29-31-2. I cannot finish at .500. What a disappointment:
Patriots -5 vs Eagles: The bettors have hammered the Eagles early when this line started at 6; it seems the “dogs” are finally getting some respect. They have the defensive front that can give Tom Brady fits, and suddenly an aerial attack to expose the Patriots secondary. I have been suckered into these underdog situations all year where Vegas wants you on them. I refuse to do it here. These are the Patriots with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. It takes a special moment and a special game plan to beat them on this stage. Nick Foles cannot play as well as he did in the NFC Championship with Bill Belichick having two weeks to prepare for him. Every New England Super Bowl under the 2 B’s has been a tight one, a thrilling finish. Sadly, they are due for a blowout. The Pats run away and hide in the fourth quarter, ending the Tom Brady vs Joe Montana debates forever.
Football Food of the Week
The Ultimate Must-Have Super Bowl foods: This may be a cop-out after delievering you tasty items all year, but the Super Bowl is unlike any football watching experience. It is your all-star game; it isn’t meant for one star food to be showcased. Therefor, there are a couple locks that need to be on your plate:
Wings: Whether fried, grilled or baked, make sure you have wings and plenty of them. A variety of sauces ups your party to the next level.
Taco Dip: An item that hit its heyday in the early 2000s has continued to thrive. Taco Dip’s run of greatness may be just as long as Tom Brady’s. It needs to be on your table.
Giant Sub, hero, wedge: A big sandwich of some sort, whether it be American-style cold cuts, Italian-style cold cuts, or chicken is an easy cut-and-serve item to fill your guests.
Pigs in a blanket: Mini hot dogs in crescent rolls. Fun to roll, fun to eat. They are the hot food’s candy.
Thank you for another fun season and for the reading. Enjoy Super Bowl Sunday you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS.