2018 NBA Finals Preview

Déjà Vu.

After a First Round that saw many close games and even a couple of upsets, the NBA Playoffs once again fell into the same cycle of predictability we have come to know it by for the last five years. That predictability has resulted in history being made once again with the NBA Finals featuring the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors for the fourth straight season, a previously unheard of feat. 

In the Cleveland Cavaliers, what you have is a Rolls Royce driving around with spare tires. LeBron James has had a postseason that could quite possibly go down as the best an individual player has ever had, averaging 34 points, 9 rebounds, and nearly 9 assists per game while shooting 58 percent from the field. Not a single player on the Cavaliers has averaged more than 15 points per game this postseason other than Janes. The only player who comes close to this mark is stretch big man Kevin Love, who has only averaged just below 14 points per game this postseason, and his health remains a serious question mark after suffering another concussion in the Eastern Conference Finals.

LeBron has carried the Cavs kicking and screaming to the NBA Finals, his historic eighth straight appearance. LeBron hit a clutch game winner in game five and had a heroic game seven in the First Round against a more cohesive team in the Indiana Pacers. He was able to put the Toronto Raptors back into extinction in a sweep that also featured an impossible game winner in game 3 of said series. He was able to overcome the youthful, superstar-less, but dynasty in the making Boston Celtics with a sixth straight game 7 win. LeBron James has all but ended the G.O.A.T. conversation with his historic postseason. Even if he loses in the Finals again and his record in such series falls to 3-6, who carries a team like his this far into the postseason? Only LeBron.

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LeBron James has all but ended the G.O.A.T. conversation with his postseason run in 2018.

The Golden State Warriors mostly breezed by the first two rounds of the NBA Playoffs despite two time MVP Stephen Curry missing significant time due to injury. It was only when the Warriors ran into the Houston Rockets, a team built with the sole goal of defeating the Warriors, did they experience any hiccups. The Warriors squandered a double digit lead in game 4 of that series with a historically bad fourth quarter by scoring only 12 points, no thanks to a disappearing act by Kevin Durant. That same disappearing act occurred again in game 5, but then the injury gods smiled upon Golden State once again by taking away the Rockets’ best performing player in the series, Chris Paul. With Paul lost due to a hamstring injury, the Warriors overcame a 3-2 series deficit to defeat the Rockets in seven games, keeping their impending dynasty alive.

Last year, there were questions as to whether or not the Warriors could overcome the collapse of their 3-1 series lead in the 2016 Finals with the arrival of the talented, but at the time not reliable, Kevin Durant. Durant ended most of that doubt with a Finals MVP earning performance, as the offensive juggernaut disposed of LeBron and the Cavaliers in five games. With a far less talented Cavs team in the finals this year, the collective offensive firepower of future hall of famers Stephen Curry, Kay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green should be able to overcome injury concerns with supposed LeBron stopper (there is no such thing) in Andre Iguodala, the Finals MVP in 2015. It’ll take a superhuman LeBron James to keep the series competitive, and while he’s more than capable of answering the bell, the Warriors dynasty shall be cemented with their third championship in four years.

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The Warriors have a chance at solidifying their dynasty in the 2018 NBA Finals.

Prediction: Warriors in 5.

Finals MVP: Stephen Curry.

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NBA Eastern and Western Conference Finals Preview

Eastern Conference Finals: 4. Cleveland Cavaliers Vs. 1. Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics have defied all odds in making it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Most had the Celtics DOA after prizes free agent signing Gordon Hayward suffered a gruesome leg injury minutes into the season, but other prized off-season acquisition Kyrie Irving was able to propel Boston to the top of Eastern Conference in his absence. If not at the beginning of the season, most people especially had the Celtics as good as dead after Irving was pronounced out for the season due to knee surgery. They kept winning.

This is a testament to the great coaching prowess of Brad Stevens, who has gotten the most out of his young roster and has made a strong case for not only being the Coach of the Year, but also the best coach in the league. Reserve players like Terry Rozier have made star turns this postseason, and the development of young talent like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have the Boston Celtics future decade long run at success all but a given. 

Boston Celtics Introduce Brad Stevens
Brad Stevens has quickly ascended to the top of the NBA coaching ranks and has the Celtics primed for a decade long run of success.

Unfortunately, they have now run into their reckoning: LeBron James. LeBron has carried the Cavaliers well beyond the point most of his detractors had him going, especially since it took a herculean 7 game effort from “The King” for the Cavs to beat the Indian Pacers in the First Round. Very few had them beating the first seeded Toronto Raptors in the Conference Semifinals despite owning them the past two postseasons. James and the Cavs swept the Raptors and now have them partaking in an overhaul in their leadership. 

Even if the Cavs role players revert back to struggling like they did in the First Round, Boston is too young to dethrone “The King”. The likes of Brown and Tatum are no match for James, and much like how LeBron renamed the city of Toronto “LeBronto” in the Conference Semifinals, Boston will be renamed “LeBoston” after yet another dominant series against the Celtics and reach his eighth straight NBA Finals. 

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Much like he did against Toronto, LeBron James will re-name yet another city en route to his eight straight NBA Finals appearance.

Prediction: Cavaliers in 5.

 

Western Conference Finals: 2. Golden State Warriors Vs. 1. Houston Rockets

The current makeup of the Houston Rockets was constructed by analytically driven general manager Daryl Morey in an attempt to not only be the top team in the Western Conference, but to dethrone the Golden State Warriors as the Western Conference Champions. So far, the Rockets have accomplished the first step, as they have home court advantage over the Warriors after winning a franchise record 65 games in the regular season. 

The latter half of Morey’s master plan can accomplish its final goal in this upcoming series. Despite some hiccups, the Rockets have blasted past their playoff competition in convincing fashion, with a 50 point quarter in the first round and a close out performance of the ages from off-season acquisition Chris Paul, who has thrived along with the presumed MVP of the league James Harden. Houston is confident heading into the series, as center Clint Capela boasted the Rockets are better than the Warriors back in January after defeating them twice in their three meetings this season. 

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General Manager Daryl Morey acquired Chris Paul in the off-season as an attempt to take out the Golden State Warriors.

If the postseason play of the Warriors against the San Antonio Spurs and the New Orleans Pelicans is any indication, Houston shouldn’t be. Despite Stephen Curry not playing for over a month, including the First Round of the playoffs, he has been seamlessly reinserted into the lineup and Golden State looks as unstoppable as ever. Kevin Durant has more than picked up the slack, and continues to be the cherry on top of the already stacked sundae the Warriors have served for the last four seasons. 

Head coach Steve Kerr commented on how he felt about his team heading into the much anticipated match-up against Houston, saying he feels comfortable with where they’re out because his players have rings on their fingers. While it’ll definitely be an offensive fireworks show, one cannot blackout memory of Rockets superstar James Harden failing to get off a game winning shot and falling to the floor in Game 2 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals. He and Houston are built better to compete three years later, but it won’t be enough to execute the second part of their master plan. 

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Stephen Curry and head coach Steve Kerr aren’t fazed by the “new and improved” Houston Rockets.

Prediction: Warriors in 6.

Oakland Raiders Schedule Analysis

Jon Gruden and the Raiders look to improve upon a disappointing 2017 season in 2018.

While we’ve known who the Raiders opponents will be in the 2018 NFL Season since New Years Eve 2017, the NFL has finally released every team’s full schedule for the 2018 season. Sure, there’s still the NFL Draft to get through and we haven’t even reached training camp, but let’s analyze how the 2018 schedule stacks up for Jon Gruden and the Oakland soon to be Las Vegas Raiders.

Week 1: Los Angeles Rams (Monday Night Football, 7:20 p.m. PST, Monday September 10th)

Week 2: at Denver Broncos (1:25 p.m. PST, Sunday September 16th)

Week 3: at Miami Dolphins (10 a.m. PST, Sunday September 23rd)

Week 4: Cleveland Browns (1:05 p.m. PST, Sunday September 30th)

Week 5: at Los Angeles Chargers (1:05 p.m. PST, Sunday October 7th)

Week 6: Seattle Seahawks (10:00 a.m. PST, Sunday October 14th in London)

Week 7: Bye

Week 8: Indianapolis Colts (1:05 p.m. PST, Sunday October 28th)

Week 9: at San Francisco 49ers (Thursday Night Football, 5:20 p.m. PST, Thursday November 1st)

Week 10: Los Angeles Chargers (1:05 p.m. PST, Sunday November 11th)

Week 11: at Arizona Cardinals (1:05 p.m. PST, Sunday November 18th)

Week 12: at Baltimore Ravens (10 a.m. PST, Sunday November 25th)

Week 13: Kansas City Chiefs (1:05 p.m. PST, Sunday December 2nd)

Week 14: Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday Night Football, 5:20 p.m. PST, Sunday December 9th)

Week 15: at Cincinnati Bengals (10 a.m. PST, Sunday December 16th)

Week 16: Denver Broncos (Monday Night Football, 5:20 p.m. PST, Monday December 24th)

Week 17: at Kansas City Chiefs (10 a.m. PST, Sunday December 30th)

Once again, the NFL has not been kind to the Raiders schedule. It’s not like they have much of a choice, however. Especially after owner Mark Davis pillaged Las Vegas for nearly a billion dollars in public funds for their new stadium in Las Vegas and begged the NFL to move there, the Raiders are at the whim of the league and their scheduling. 

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The Raiders brass faces an uphill to start the season in 2018.

They begin the season away from home for four out of the first six weeks of the season. This includes divisional clashes against the Broncos and Chargers, and a trip to South Beach against the Dolphins. One of the recurring themes of the Raiders schedule since 2014 is effectively losing a home game in Oakland to play a “home” game internationally, and this year their reward is to play the earliest scheduled London game in Week 6 against the Seahawks. Sure, the Raiders have international appeal due to their global brand, but taking away yet another home game from the soon to be abandoned Oakland fans adds insult to injury.

To end the season, the Raiders face divisional foes three out of their last five games, including two tilts against the Chiefs and a Christmas Eve battle against the Broncos. They also face two tough AFC North foes in the final five weeks, with their historical rival in the Steelers coming to town in what could be a potential playoff match-up and a grind it out early kickoff against the Bengals. This stretch could make or break the Raiders playoff aspirations, and they must take care of business in their final divisional games and stand up to the bullies of the AFC North.

In regards to marquee time slots, the Raiders appear on prime-time television four times in 2018, down from the five nationally televised games last season. They’ll get exposure on all three prime-time time slots, with two home game Monday Night Football tilts against west coast rivals in the Rams and Broncos, a road battle of the Bay Area on Thursday Night Football against the 49ers, and a Sunday Night a Football slugfest against the Steelers.

After a disappointing 2017 that perhaps had too much unwarranted hype going into it, the Raiders should improve upon last season’s disastrous campaign. Yes, the defense may have to bend and not break once again, but 2016’s Defensive Player of the Year, defensive end Kahlil Mack, can anchor this defense, and should receive a contract extension at some point before the start of the regular season. Quarterback Derek Carr is a franchise player who regressed to the mean last year, and should bounce back under the tutelage of Jon Gruden. Adding veteran wide receiver Jordy Nelson should help wide receiver Amari Cooper regain his Pro-Bowl form, and the one two punch of running backs Marshawn Lynch and free agent acquisition Doug Martin should result in a potent running attack. Mark Davis can only hope his ten year, $100 million investment in Jon Gruden pans out in year one of the second Chucky era. By the looks of the 2018 schedule, the Raiders should be able to contend for the postseason, but as always, it’ll be a grind for the Silver and Black. 

Bro-Reviews: Rampage

Arcade button mashing is more thrilling.

Earlier this year, the video game movie genre stumbled with the arrival of Tomb Raider, an uneven, overlong slog that received mixed reviews at best and disappointed at the box office. Hollywood can’t seem to get the video game movie formula down. But their was hope, as such films never had as big a movie star as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Sure, he had starred in the film adaptation of the popular video game “Doom” back in 2005, but he wasn’t a bona fide star then like he is now. Throw in the high concept idea of the video game “Rampage”, a game in which you play as giant creatures going around the world destroying everything in your path, and you’ve got a recipe for a fun, and possibly even first good video game movie, right?

Rampage sees Dwayne Johnson as Davis Okoye, a primatologist who prefers the company of animals rather than humans. His favorite animal/ friend George (* motion captured by Jason Liles*), an albino gorilla he rescued, one night becomes infected by a pathogen that causes him to grown in size and increase aggression. After numerous cases of other animals being infected by the pathogen arise, Dr. Kate Caldwell (Noami Harris), a genetic engineer, teams up with Okoye to try and find a cure before the evil Energyne Corporation, led by Claire Wyden (Malin Åkerman) and her brother Brett (Jake Lacey), unleash even more hell upon the world with their experiment: Project Rampage.

Obviously, the glaring difference from the game and this adaptation is actual animals become infected with the pathogen in the film whereas it was humans being turned into giant animals in the game. This was probably a wise decision, and it lends itself well to the relationship between George and Johnson’s character. This is surprisingly one of the best aspects of the film, as while Johnson isn’t exactly known for his acting abilities, he’s able to convey his concern for his friend and vice versa. Of course, the giant albino gorilla, giant crocodile, and giant flying wolf wrecking havoc on the city draws parallels to the game, and at times is a delight to watch. It even lends itself well to an interesting horror element that makes the film one of the most violent PG-13 rated films ever released.

Film Review Rampage
Dwayne Johnson in Rampage.

Unfortunately, for a film that’s main selling point is monstrous destruction, Rampage is confoundedly mute during some of it. Sure, there’s plenty of destruction, but it doesn’t sound or feel like you get the full brunt of the carnage unfolding. The obliteration in the film never escalates to what should be disaster movie levels, and this could be due to the fact that the film struggles to balance tones during its slog of a second act. At times, the film takes itself seriously as if it’s trying to sell us that this could actually happen, and at others it stops to be meta and lighthearted, a combination that does not mix well. The second act is the main area where we see these jarring tonal shifts, and after countless male posturing confrontations, mistimed comedy, and failed attempts at developing characters, Rampage unforgivably becomes a bore.

While Dwayne Johnson may have the desire to be the next global action star, al la Arnold Schwarzenegger, he’s no Schwarzenegger. Jeffrey Dean Morgan should change his name to Jeffrey “Lean” Morgan, as his performance consists of the tendencies of his Negan character from The Walking Dead combined with an impersonation of Tommy Lee Jones from The Fugitive. The result is an awkward cowboy persona that feels like he’s in a completely different movie. Naomi Harris and Joe Manganiello are utterly wasted in the film and barely even resonate, while Malin Åkerman and Jake Lacy come across as Team Rocket from Pokémon and also feel out of place.

Rampage is yet another missed opportunity for the video game movie genre. A film boasting the talents of Dwayne Johnson, a blockbuster budget, and a high concept like the “Rampage” video game should have at the very least been fun. The result we get is an uneven disaster movie that hopes it can save itself by recklessly button mashing its way through its climax. You’d better off going to the arcade and doing that with the game the movie drew its inspiration from, at least you might get some thrills attempting to beat the high score.

Rating: 2 out of 4 stars. Rent it.

Rampage stars Dwayne Johnson, Naomi Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Malin  Åkerman, Jake Lacey, Marley Shelton, and Joe Manganiello. It is in theaters now.

Bro-Reviews: Ready Player One

The ultimate 80s video game.

It’s been discussed here before, but it bears reminding; adapting popular books into films is a tall task. Not only do you have to please the fans of the source material, but also make it accessible for general audiences to enjoy as well. The latest book to get the big screen treatment is Earnest Cline’s “Ready Player One”, a futuristic science fiction novel published in 2011 that gained “unfilmable” status as soon as the idea was brought up. Of course, the only man willing to tackle this challenge head on was legendary Hollywood blockbuster director Steven Spielberg, as the film became a passion project of his that took years to develop and film. Now, the “unfilmable” Ready Player One has arrived in theaters, hoping to capture the attention of the novel’s fans and reignite the imaginations of general audiences everywhere like the director has done for decades upon decades.

Ready Player One takes place in the year 2045, where much of the earth’s population now lives in slum-like conditions due to overpopulation, climate change, and corruption. To escape the hardships of reality, people spend most of their days in a virtual reality platform called OASIS, created by the late innovator James Halliday (Mark Rylance). Before his death, Halliday created a game within OASIS called “Anorak’s Quest”, wherein easter eggs are hidden throughout the virtual reality world, and the person who collects all the easter eggs gains control of OASIS. This attracts normal everyday users of the platform called “Gunters”, including Columbus, Ohio resident Wade Wilson (Tye Sheridan), and an army of soldiers called “Sixers” controlled by the leading creator of virtual reality equipment, Innovative Online Industries, and their CEO, Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn). With such high stakes on the line, it’s a race to find all of the easter eggs and gain control of not only OASIS, but also potentially the world.

There’s no doubt Ready Player One is a blast from the past, an 80s type film for the present generation’s enjoyment. Spielberg, when he doesn’t want to lecture a history class, still knows what puts butts in the seats: a good story, relatable characters, and blockbuster thrills. In regards to most of those categories, Ready Player One delivers on an epic scale. OASIS is a full blown spectacle of special effects, with animation so rendered and crisp you feel as if you too are part of this virtual reality. The action scenes that occur in this realm are nothing short of jaw dropping, whether it’s a race featuring King Kong standing in ones path to the finish line or the films’ the final battle sequence, only a true craftsman like Spielberg could handle such awe inspiring action.

One of the more intriguing aspects to the film is its dependency on pop culture references. There are so many easter eggs and nods to the 1980s, a decade Spielberg directed films dominated, throughout the film. It definitely draws a parallel to today’s pop culture obsessed world, somewhat of a biting commentary that our current habits will only be expanded to new levels in the future and in the soon to be virtual reality driven society.

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Ready Player One.

While the film doesn’t boast any A-list stars, the ensemble cast delivers. Tye Sheridan makes for a compelling protagonist in the film, and his chemistry with Olivia Cooke is apparent. Ben Mendelsohn may be somewhat of a generic villain, but he’s having a blast in the role of a corporate suite. Mark Rylance and Steven Spielberg appear to be attached at the hip these days, but Rylance once again does a remarkable job embodying the spirit of a film. The rest of the ensemble, consisting of Simon Pegg, T.J. Miller, and Lena Waithe, also hit their marks, making for a diverse, well rounded cast.

While the story definitely sets up for great visuals and special effects, it does take a little getting used to the visual dependent film, and could be overwhelmingly vibrant for some. The story itself has also been explored before not only in other science fiction novels, but in other films as well. This means its general themes can be pinpointed quickly, and audiences get a general feel for where the film is going over its 140 run time.

Even with the aforementioned faults of the film, Ready Player One is old school blockbuster filmmaking from a director who keeps finding ways to out-do himself. It’s a visually striking triumph that should not only please fans of the novel, but also general audiences deprived of such good quality films. Ready Player One is the ultimate 80s video game, a great reminder from the legendary Steven Spielberg that he’s not slowing down anytime soon, and a reminder of why we go to the movies; to escape the plight of reality for a short period of time, only this time it’s not just to theaters, but to OASIS as well.

Rating: 3 out of 4 stars. Pay full price.

Ready Player One stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe,Win Morisaki, Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance. It is in theaters March 29th.

Bro-Picks Presents: The Top 10 Super Bowls of All Time

Super Bowl 52 came and went, but does it crack the top 10 of the greatest Super Bowls of all time?

Despite its grandiose nature, the Super Bowl is often a one-sided affair and relatively uncompelling. Every so often, however, we get a Super Bowl that is actually competitive and exciting, and it’s important to cherish these games since they don’t come around often. The top 10 Super Bowls of all time are:

10. Super Bowl V: Baltimore Colts V. Dallas Cowboys

Also known as “The Stupor Bowl”, this game is often ranked as one of the worst games of all-time due to its sloppy play, but it’s undeserved. Sure the game featured 11 turnovers combined, a missed PAT, and even some officiating miscues, but Super Bowl V was a back and forth contest that came down to the final play of the game: a 32 yard field goal by Colts kicker Jim O’Brien. If that doesn’t qualify as a great Super Bowl, then what does?

9. Super Bowl XXXII: Denver Broncos V. Green Bay Packers

After agonizing defeat after defeat, Super Bowl XXXII was shaping up as another disappointment for Denver’s QB John Elway, as the Broncos were 14 point underdogs against the reigning Super Bowl champion Packers, who were led by QB Brett Farve. Super Bowl XXXII went down to the wire, and featured one of the most iconic plays in Super Bowl history, when Elway launched himself in the air in the hopes of gaining a first down, and was hit and spun around like a helicopter. Talk about a heart of a champion.

8. Super Bowl XXXVI: New England Patriots V. St. Louis Rams

In the wake of 9/11, how fitting was it that a team called the Patriots pulled off an incredible upset against the then St. Louis Rams “Greatest Show on Turf”? Sure, allegations of cheating have marred the Patriots dynasty, but it was the first Super Bowl appearance and victory in their remarkable 18 year run that featured an enthralling game winning field goal from New England kicker Adam Vinatieri.

7. Super Bowl LII: Philadelphia Eagles V. New England Patriots

This year’s Super Bowl featured one of the more exciting games in the big game’s history. A back and forth contest that saw the Eagles and Patriots combine for 1,151 yards offensively and featured only one key defensive play late in the fourth quarter, it also featured a blown lead and two comebacks. Somehow, the Eagles managed to shake-off their choker label and win their first Super Bowl in franchise history, and Super Bowl LII should be remembered as an all time great Super Bowl.

 

6. Super Bowl XIII: Pittsburgh Steelers V. Dallas Cowboys

Two of the NFL’s most iconic franchises did battle for the second time in four years, and this one was one for the ages. An offensive explosion that featured seven touchdown passes from future hall of fame QBs, Pittsburgh Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw and Dallas Cowboys QB Roger Staubach, the game gave us another iconic Super Bowl moment when Cowboys TE Jackie Smith dropped a pass in the end zone that would’ve tied the game at 21. The Cowboys would never recover, and the Steelers walked away with their 3rd Lombardi Trophy in a thrilling contest.

5. Super Bowl XXIII: San Francisco 49ers V. Cincinnati Bengals

Another re-match bowl, Joe Montana and the 49ers capped off their 3rd Super Bowl victory with a 92-yard touchdown drive that all started with a spotting of comedy legend John Candy in the stands. To win the game, Montana threw a 10-yard touchdown to WR John Taylor, his only catch of the game. It added to Montana’s legend as “Joe Cool”, and was the last game Niners coach Bill Walsh roamed the sidelines on as a member of the organization.

 

4. Super Bowl XXV: New York Giants V. Buffalo Bills

After New York executed a game plan that kept the ball out of the explosive Bills no-huddle offense, Buffalo still had a chance to win the game with a 47-yard field goal with eight seconds left. Bills K Scott Norwood missed the kick wide right, a thrilling finish to a game that would mark the end of coach Bill Parcel’s tenure with the Giants and the beginning of the Bills four straight Super Bowl appearances in the 90s. Broadcasting legend Al Michaels’ two words, “wide right”, continues to haunt the city of Buffalo to this day.

 

3. Super Bowl XXXIV: St. Louis Rams V. Tennessee Titans

Sure, the Rams at one point led the game 16-0, but Steve McNair and the Titans led a furious comeback to tie the game at 16. After Rams QB and league MVP Kurt Warner threw a 73 yard TD pass to WR Isaac Bruce, the Titans had a chance to win the game with 1:54 left. On the final play of the game, McNair completed a pass to WR Kevin Dyson, who was tackled by Rams LB Mike Jones 1-yard short of the goal line. One. Yard. Short. Perhaps the greatest finish in Super Bowl and NFL history.

2. Super Bowl XLIII: Pittsburgh Steelers V. Arizona Cardinals

For the Steelers, appearing in Super Bowls is second nature. For the Cardinals, it seemed like a pipe dream. A close contest throughout, Super Bowl XLIII gave fans one of the greatest plays in football history when Steelers LB James Harrison intercepted a pass from Cardinals future hall of fame QB Kurt Warner and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown before halftime. The Cardinals would battle back valiantly, scoring the game’s next two touchdowns, including a 64-yard touchdown reception by WR Larry Fitzgerald, which gave Arizona a three point lead with 2:37 remaining. Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger then led the Steelers on an 8 play, 78-yard drive that was capped off by WR Santonio Holmes’ terrific tip-toe catch in the back of the end zone to secure Pittburgh’s 6th Lombardi trophy, the most in NFL history.

 

1. Super Bowl XLII New York Giants V. New England Patriots

With the prospect of a perfect season on the line, the New England Patriots had only one game to win in order to immortalized as the greatest team ever. The New York Giants had other plans. The game was a 7-3 score stalemate throughout until an amazing fourth quarter took place. First, the Giants took the lead after QB Eli Manning threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to unknown WR David Tyree (*more on him later) to give the Giants a 10-7 lead. Just a few possessions later, Patriots QB Tom Brady did what he does best by leading a 12 play, 80-yard drive that resulted in a 6-yard touchdown pass to WR Randy Moss to give the Patriots a 14-10 lead. On the Giants final possession, Eli Manning escaped the clutches of Patriots DE Richard Seymour and DE Jarvis Green and delivered a 32-yard completion to WR David Tyree, who out-jumped Patriots All-Pro S Rodney Harrison and caught the ball by pinning it to his helmet in what is now referred to as “The Helmet Catch.” Four plays later, Manning tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to WR Plaxico Burress to cap the upset of the century, and the greatest Super Bowl of all-time.

Philadelphia Eagles End Title Drought, Win Super Bowl LII

The Eagles are the top dogs of the NFL.

Fly Eagles, fly.

After postseason disappointment after postseason disappointment, the Philadelphia Eagles ended their title drought and won Super Bowl LII 41-33 against the favored New England Patriots.

Sure, the Eagles looked dominant during the season, but their star 2nd year QB, Carson Wentz, suffered a torn ACL, MCL, and LCL in week 14. The Eagles limped into the playoffs with back-up QB Nick Foles. Everyone counted them out.

Many counted the Eagles out after 2nd year QB Carson Wentz was lost for the season due to injury.

But not the Eagles themselves. They embraced the role of the underdog literally throughout the postseason, donning dog masks whilst holding the favored Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings to 17 points total between the two, steam-rolling their way to Minneapolis for Super Bowl LII.

But people didn’t believe the Eagles could defeat the mighty New England Patriots, the NFL’s crown jewel franchise. One could hardly blame someone for believing New England would win the game. Patriots QB Tom Brady, head coach Bill Belichick, and owner Robert Kraft were making their eight Super Bowl appearance together. Who would bet against the golden boy and the hoodie? Their dynasty had seemingly no end in sight.

The trio of Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft were making their 8th Super Bowl appearance together in Super Bowl LII.

But the Eagles put an end to the Patriots machine. Philadelphia’s offense moved the ball at will against the Patriots defense, as they gained 538 total yards of offense and scored 5 touchdowns. The most dazzling and gutsy of those touchdowns was a 4th down touchdown when Eagles TE Trey Burton tossed a touchdown pass to QB Nick Foles to put Philadelphia up 22-12 in the waning moments of the first half.

QB Nick Foles catches a touchdown pass from TE Trey Burton before the end of the first half to put the Eagles up 22-12.

But the Patriots didn’t stay down for long, as Tom Brady led three straight touchdown drives in the 2nd half, including a 4 yard TD pass to TE Rob Gronkowski to put New England up 33-32 with 9:22 left in the fourth quarter. Tom Brady did what he does best: lead a comeback.

But the Eagles had one last hurrah in them. Back-up QB Nick Foles then led the Eagles on 14 play, 75 yard touchdown drive that was capped off by a controversial 11-yard touchdown catch to TE Zach Ertz that took nearly 7 minutes off the clock. They inexplicably left Tom Brady too much time on the clock, however, as 2 minutes and 21 seconds remained in the game. If you remember the endings to Super Bowl XXXVI, XXXVIII, XLVIX, and LII, you know how this movie ends.

Zach Ertz’s go-ahead 11-yard touchdown catch was met with controversy due to the NFL’s catch/ no-catch rule.

But in a twist most movie executives would reject, the Eagles defense, which had been torched for most of the game and allowed New England to gain 638 yards on offense, made the big play to save the game. Eagles DE Brandon Graham sacked Brady and forced a fumble, which was recovered by Philadelphia DE Derek Barnett. Eagles rookie kicker Jake Elliott then made a 46-yard field goal to put the game out of reach.

Eagles DE Brandon Graham made the play to save the game by sacking Patriots QB Tom Brady and forcing a fumble that was recover by Philadelphia DE Derek Barnett.

After countless choke-jobs throughout the franchise’s history, particularly under the guidance of Andy Reid, it’s ironic a descendant of Reid’s coaching tree, Dough Peterson, was able to coach the Eagles to victory. He put together the perfect game plan: play ball control offense to keep the ball out of Brady’s hands, take shots down the field, and call every single “special” play every team has in their playbook, en route to the Eagles first Super Bowl in franchise history.

Back-up QB Nick Foles, who had considered retirement just years earlier after bouncing around the league as a journeyman and having lost his love for the game, played the game of his life. Foles threw for 373 yards and 3 touchdowns and caught another one to earn Super Bowl MVP honors. Make no mistake, this is still Carson Wentz’s team, but Foles rose to the occasion and played a huge role in Philadelphia’s victory.

Eagles QB Nick Foles won Super Bowl MVP honors for his performance in Super Bowl LII.

As improbable as their victory was, maybe we shouldn’t have reduced the Eagles success down to one player, QB Carson Wentz. Wentz was having an MVP season before going down with a season ending injury, but the Eagles proved why they were one of the best teams in the NFL this season with their magical postseason. This team is built to make another run at the Lombardi trophy, but the city of Philadelphia, whether it is still standing or not after the partying and rioting takes place, will enjoy this victory and remember it for generations.

The city of “Brotherly Love” loves playing the role of the underdog, having built a statue of the fictitious Rocky Balboa from the Rocky franchise, and the Eagles embraced this role during the postseason. If their victory in Super Bowl LII proves anything, it proves every dog has its day, even the Eagles and the city of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie hoists the Lombardi Trophy during the Eagles post-game celebration after defeating the New England Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII.