Bro-Picks Presents “The Predicta-Bowl”: Super Bowl 52 Preview

The least hyped Super Bowl in recent memory awaits.

This postseason in the NFL has more than made up for an otherwise lackluster regular season. It took us a while to get here, and some of it was agonizing to sit through, but we have arrived to the NFL season’s final destination: Super Bowl LII in the freezer known as Minneapolis, Minnesota.

For the 4th time in five seasons, the NFL’s big game features the number one seeds from each conference: the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Many predicted the Patriots would be here at the start of the season. Despite a lackluster defense and even minimal signs of sure to be MVP 40 year old QB Tom Brady slowing down, New England once again ran through most of the AFC. Sure, they were in a dog fight in the AFC Championship game where they were without star TE Rob Gronkowski for an entire half due to a concussion, but even a game Jacksonville Jaguars couldn’t kill off the Patriots machine. Heck, not even alleged in house fighting between head coach Bill Belichick, QB Tom Brady, and owner Robert Kraft over who was supposed to be Brady’s successor, QB Jimmy Garoppolo, and Brady’s cult-ish training guru, Alex Guerrero could stop New England from making it to an NFL record 10th Super Bowl, the 8th among this regime.

Despite rumors of a rift between them, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, QB Tom Brady, and head coach Bill Belichick dominated the AFC once again and are set to partake in their 8th Super Bowl together.

The Eagles were a dominant force this season under the guidance of 2nd year QB Carson Wentz. Wentz and the Eagles looked unstoppable at times, as he threw 33 TDs and finished 2nd in the league in that category. He was first in the league at the time he suffered a torn ACL, MCL, and LCL, a devastating blow that led many, including myself, to believe the Eagles were done. But the Eagles embraced something they hadn’t considered the entire year until the NFL Playoffs: the role of the “underdog.”

Enter back-up QB Nick Foles, who was on his way to being a superstar QB with a 27 TD to 2 INT season with the Eagles in 2013 before bouncing around the league and pronounced done after failing to secure a starting job. Foles has filled in nicely this postseason, throwing for 598 yards and 3 TDs, and could be on his way to earning another starting job this offseason. The Eagles defense has also proven itself to be a main factor in their success this season, as their fourth ranked defense during the regular season has allowed only 17 points in two postseason games. The Eagles have proven they are more than their superstar QB by embracing their “underdog” status, and are a great team firing on all cylinders heading into Super Bowl 52 despite crushing injuries.

When many counted them out due to crippling injuries, the Eagles embraced the role of the underdog. If the playoffs are any indication, they are anything but underdogs in Super Bowl 52.

 

The Prediction:

2 Weeks ago: 1-1

Overall: 170-96

While there has been a lack of buildup to “The Big Game” due to being played in an icebox known as Minneapolis, Minnesota, Philadelphia QB Carson Wentz’s injury, and the prevailing notion the Eagles don’t stand a chance against the mighty Patriots, this will be a close game. The aforementioned Eagles defense is good enough to keep them in the game, and with offensive talent like WR Alston Jeffrey, RB Jay Ajayi, and TE Zach Ertz, the Eagles definitely boast better talent and position players. Had Carson Wentz been under center for Philadelphia, the Eagles would prevail and win their first Super Bowl in franchise history after a legacy of agony, defeat, and underachievement. But the most important position, QB, is dominated by this year’s MVP and perhaps the greatest QB of all time: Patriots QB Tom Brady. Throw in head coach Bill Belichick getting an extra week to game plan and prepare for an opponent, and you have to like the Patriots chances to hoist a 6th Lombardi trophy, a “Predicta-Bowl” result if there ever were one.

Winner and Final Score: Patriots 27 Eagles 23

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Bro- Picks: NFL Week 5 Predictions

1 quarter down, 3 to go.

We’re a quarter of the way through the NFL season, and to say there have been surprises would be an understatement. Such shocking developments include:

The New England Patriots are 2-2, and their defense is on pace to be one of the worst defenses in NFL history. QB Tom Brady may be somewhat of an ageless wonder at 40 years old (stats), but even he cant overcome a historically bad defense. There’s not enough crow to go around for all the dopey experts who predicted this team would go 19-0.

The Oakland soon to be Las Vegas Raiders looked like a force to be reckoned with the first two weeks of the season, and even held a dance party because of it. Since then they’ve looked like the Jamarcus Russell era Raiders, getting punk’d on Sunday Night Football against the Redskins, and looking impotent against the Broncos. To make matters worse, QB Derek Carr is out 2-6 weeks with a transverse fracture in his back. Should Carr come back quickly there’s a good chance the Raiders could recover. If Carr is out for an extended period of time, the Raiders’ season is sunk.

The Jets are 2-2. So much for tanking.

The Dallas Cowboys are 2-2, and everyone seems to be panicking. Prior to last seasons 13-3 outing, the Cowboys went 40-40 from 2011-2015. If anything, the Cowboys have been their typical selves so far this season. Factor in a defense that can’t stop a nose bleed, and it’ll be tough for QB Dak Prescott and company to match last year’s success.

Last Week: 10-6

Overall: 36-27

Upset of the Week: New England Patriots at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Thursday Night Football)

The New England Patriots are lucky to be in the AFC East, because nobody is buying the Buffalo Bills as the best team in that division. The Patriots defense has allowed every opponent’s QB to throw for over 300 yards this year, and Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston will fest upon New England’s poor pass defense.

Upset of the Week Winner: Buccaneers

San Francisco 49ers at Indianapolis Colts

Colts QB Andrew Luck is finally practicing, but there is no timetable for his return. This is the last winnable game for the 49ers until December 3rd against the Chicago Bears, but it will be Colts QB Jacoby Brissett who will show flashes of being a franchise QB, perhaps even one the 49ers should look into next off season.

Winner: Colts

New York Jets at Cleveland Browns

I like Browns coach Hue Jackson a lot. He deserves better than the dumpster fire known as the Cleveland Browns. And aren’t the Jets supposed to be tanking?

Winner: Jets

Lock of the Week: Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers

The soap opera known as the Pittsburgh Steelers never seems to end. First WR Antonio Brown throws a temper tantrum on Sunday after not receiving the ball when he was wide open. QB Ben Roethlisberger then chides Antonio Brown publicly after saying he wished Brown had voiced his frustrations privately. All of this would spell disaster for most teams, but none of it matters, as the Steelers play the perpetually schizophrenic Jaguars on this week’s episode.

Winner: Steelers

Los Angeles Chargers at New York Giants

A battle of 0-4 teams. One team feels as if they are playing road games every week since opposing teams’ fans take over their tarp covered, 27,00 seat soccer stadium. The other team is the worst New York football team right now, and that was supposed to be the Jets. It’s getting tiresome picking the Giants every week, but they’re playing a Chargers team that has got to be the biggest joke other than the Browns right now. This has got to be the Giants’ week, right?

Winner: Giants

Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals

The Bills, whom many thought were tanking, are 3-1 and in first place in the AFC East. That may not last much longer, but for one more week, the good times will roll in Buffalo.

Winner: Bills

Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions

Cam Newton seems to have gotten his swagger back after scoring 4 touchdowns against the Patriots last week. That swagger carried over in the wrong way during a press conference Wednesday, where he said “It’s funny” when a female reporter asked him a question regarding the routes his wide receivers ran in week 4. There’s nothing funny about the Lions, who lead the NFL with 11 takeaways this season. While Newton’s remarks were reprehensible at best, Cam has his groove back, and that’s all the Panthers need.

Winner: Panthers

Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins

The Titans may be without QB Marcus Mariota this weekend, and instead of signing a QB who could actually run their offense (*cough* Colin Kaepernick *cough*), they signed Brandon Weeden. They’re lucky they get to face smokin’ Jay Cutler and the Miami Dolphins this week, whose offense looks like it’s being ran by a man enjoying his retirement.

Winner: Titans

Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles

The Cardinals two wins have come against the the Colts and the 49ers. The Eagles have proven to be the beasts of the NFC East through 4 games, and it’s games like these against vulnerable teams at home you must win in order to be considered true contenders.

Winner: Eagles

Baltimore Ravens at Oakland Raiders

As stated earlier, the Raiders will be without QB Derek Carr for sometime. Their backup is former 16th overall pick and only the QB taken in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft EJ Manuel (*seriously, nobody wants to call Colin Kaepernick?*). The Ravens defense may be stout with 11 takeaways this season, but the Raiders will find a way to eek out a victory against a Ravens team whose QB Joe Flacco can no longer be considered elite.

Winner: Raiders

Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams

The Rams are the surprise team at the top of the NFC West with a 3-1 record, including a stunning win over the Cowboys at Jerry World last week. This will be the biggest indicator of whether they are a true contender or not, as it has been QB Russell Wilson and the Legion of Boom Seattle Seahawks who have owned this Division since 2013. The Rams aren’t ready for the spotlight.

Winner: Seahawks

Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys

A rematch of last year’s Divisional Playoff game (*quite possibly one of the best ever*), the Packers have injuries upon injuries stacking up. The Cowboys look vulnerable after looking invincible last season. The Cowboys need this game more to prove they are still a force to be reckoned with, and anticipating they will play with that urgency is enough to prevail over Packers QB Aaron Rodgers.

Winner: Cowboys

Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans (Sunday Night Football)

The Chiefs are the only undefeated team left in the NFL at 4-0. Chiefs coach Andy Reid wins 61% of his regular season games, so we should’ve seen this success coming. However, they’ll be facing a dynamic young QB in Deshaun Watson this week. After his 5 touchdown performance against the Titans last week, maybe Watson’s former college coach Dabo Swinney wasn’t far off when he said any team that passes up on him in the NFL draft is passing up on the next Michael Jordan.

Winner: Texans

Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears (Monday Night Football)

The Bears have mercilessly ended the Mike Glennon era (*or error*) and will start rookie QB Mitch Trubisky this week. Seriously? The Bears want to trot out their prized possession against a defense that is only allowing offenses to score 19 points a game? Hardly a confidence booster for a QB making his NFL debut in prime time.

USP NFL: CHICAGO BEARS-MITCHELL TRUBISKY PRESS CON S FBN USA IL

Winner: Vikings

 

Super Bowl 51: No, It’s Not the Greatest Super Bowl Ever

Many will say Super Bowl 51 is the greatest Super Bowl ever.Well… its not.

Super Bowl 51 came and went. The Patriots mounted a furious comeback (*or the Falcons taught everyone how to spell CHOKE, depending on your perspective*) to beat the Falcons 34-28 in the first ever overtime in a Super Bowl.  Atlanta was up 28-3 in the 3rd quarter. This game was over. But never count Tom Brady out, as he and his explosive offense scored 31 unanswered points to earn his 5th championship, the most all time for a Quarter Back. We got the reality TV moment everyone wanted, with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell shaking Brady’s hand and getting drowned out by boos whilst handing the Lombardi Trophy to the Patriots.

A comeback for the ages? The first ever Super Bowl to feature an overtime? A player being anointed as the G.O.A.T.? All of these elements surely make Super Bowl 51 the greatest Super Bowl ever, right?

WRONG.

The 1st quarter of this game was a dog, with the score even at 0-0. Neither offense could get anything going. There were some nice plays made by the defenses, but those plays were the result of inept offenses, not great defense.

Then Atlanta finally got it going in the 2nd quarter. RB Devonta Freeman scored first on a 5 yard run to make it 7-0. TE Austin Hooper caught a TD pass from MVP QB Matt Ryan to make it 14-0. Patriots QB Tom Brady inexplicably threw into double coverage and CB Robert Alford took it back for a pick 6 to put the Falcons up by a commanding 21 points. New England added a field goal at the end of the 1st  half, but Tevin Coleman caught a 6 yard TD pass from Matt Ryan early in the 3rd quarter to put the Falcons up 28-3.  This game was over.

But then we saw the single greatest performance by a football player EVER, along with the greatest comeback/ biggest choke in Super Bowl history. Tom Brady willed the Patriots to win, throwing TD passes to RB James White and WR Danny Amendola to inch the Patriots closer to a tie. He drove the Patriots down the field on 2 of their last 3 possessions in regulation and overtime to set-up RB James White to run in the game tying and game winning touchdowns. Brady’s final stat line reads 43-62 for 466 Passing Yards (a Super Bowl record), 2 TDs and 1 INT. HE WAS DOWN BY 25. HE SPOTTED THE FALCONS 25 POINTS AND THEY STILL COULDN’T BEAT HIM.

Now all I just wrote there sounds pretty incredible, right? Make no mistake, Super Bowl 51 was something to behold. However, it doesn’t crack my list of all time Super Bowls. The Super Bowls I’m about to list (in no particular order) as better than Super Bowl 51 had a combination of  3 things going for them: Either history was on the line, there was back and forth drama, or a play/ plays that ultimately decided the game.

  • Super Bowl 42: Giants V Patriots. 1. History on the line:  Patriots had a chance at going 19-0. 2. Back and forth drama: There were 3 lead changes in the 4th quarter alone. Giants WR David Tyree’s TD catch to make it 10-7 , Patriots WR Randy Moss’s TD catch to make it 14-10, and Giants WR Plaxico Buress’s TD catch to make it 17-14. 3. Play(s) that Ultimately decided the game:  David Tyree’s helmet catch and  Plaxico Buress’s game winning TD catch mentioned above.

 

  • Super Bowl 25: Giants V. Bills. 1. Back and forth drama: The Giants played ball control offense against the Bill’s prolific offense, but it was a close contest throughout. 2. Play that Ultimately decided the game: Bills kicker Scott Norwood misses 47 yard field goal to lose the game.

 

  • Super Bowl 32: Packers V. Broncos. 1. History on the Line: Broncos QB John Elway, playing in his 4th Super Bowl, was attempting to win his 1st Super Bowl, the missing piece in his otherwise illustrious career at that point. 2. Back and Forth Drama: While the Packers were favored by a historic 11 points, the game was contentious throughout. This included a back and forth 1st quarter where both teams scored Touchdowns, and a 4th quarter that saw the Packers tie the game at 24 and the Broncos scoring the game winning touchdown with 1 minute and 45 seconds remaining. 3. Play that Ultimately Decided the Game: In one of the most memorable moments in Super Bowl history, QB John Elway dove head first, and was spun around like a helicopter, for a first down on a key 3rd down play. It was at that moment everyone knew not only how badly Elway wanted to win, but that the Broncos would in fact win.

 

  • Super Bowl 43: Cardinals V. Steelers 1. Back and forth Drama: There were 2 lead changes in the 4th quarter that were go-ahead touchdowns, one by Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald to make it 23-20, and one by Steelers WR Santonio Holmes to make it 27-23. 2. Play that Ultimately decided the game: Santonio Holmes caught the game winning TD pass with an immaculate tip-toe catch in the back corner of the end-zone.

 

  • Super Bowl 34: Titans V. Rams. 1. Back and Forth Drama: After being down 16-0, the Titans came back to tie the game at 16. The Rams scored the go-ahead TD with Rams QB Kurt Warner throwing  a 73 yard TD to WR Isaac Bruce, but left 4 minutes and 5 seconds on the clock for the Titans to tie the game. 2. Play that Ultimately decided the game: Rams LB Mike Jones tackles Titans WR Kevin Dyson 1-yard short of the goal line to win the game.

Yes, there was history on the line in Super Bowl 51, namely an opportunity for Tom Brady to earn his 5th ring. And yes, RB James Whites’ 2 yard TD run in overtime decided the game, but the Patriots were at the 2 yard line.You knew they were going run it in to win (*Take note Seattle Seahawks, that’s what you do when you’re close to the goal line and are about to win the Super Bowl *). Sure, it wasn’t a complete dog of a game like last year’s match-up between the Panthers and Broncos, or countless other Super Bowls that turned out to be blowouts. But something about it just doesn’t resonate with me.

I’m not trying to take anything away from this game. Super Bowl 51 featured the greatest comeback/ the biggest choke-job ever. It had the single greatest performance from a football player ever. But I refuse to be a prisoner of the moment. The Super Bowls I mentioned above are ones we’ll talk about forever. They have a number of attributes that make them all time great games. I just don’t believe Super Bowl 51, due to its lack of back and forth drama and having predictable plays that decided the game, should be spoken of in this manner. It was compelling, but not the greatest one we’ve ever seen. Nor should it be ever mentioned as such, ever.

 

 

The Screw Roger Goodell Tour Finale: Super Bowl 51 Preview

Super Bowl 51 is upon us everyone. After 6 arduous months of football, it comes down to two teams: The New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons.

The New England Patriots were expected to be here. They’re playing in an NFL record 9th Super Bowl, and have been the epitome of consistency ever since head coach Bill Belichick was hired in 2000. While undoubtedly the villains of the NFL to all except for those who root for them, the Patriots have embraced this label. The 2016 season for the New England Patriots can only be described as a revenge tour, The **** Roger Goodell that is. The headliner and lead singer of this tour? None other than the golden boy himself, QB Tom Brady. After serving a 4 game suspension for his role in the over-publicized Deflategate saga, Brady went on to have an MVP caliber season (3,554 passing yards, 28 passing TDs, 2 INTs in 12 games) and is out to win his 5th Super Bowl.

But it’s not all about Tom Brady. The New England defense also deserves credit. They’ve allowed opponents to score just 15.6 points per game, good for first in the NFL. They’re also 7th in total defense, allowing 326.4 total yards per game. That low number is thanks to a rushing defense that holds opponents to just under 89 yards per game, ranking third in the NFL. The Patriots defense may not be flashy, and they may not have a stud pass rusher like a Khalil Mack (DE Raiders) or Von Miller (OLB Broncos), but they live by the motto of their head coach: “Just do your job.” Make no bones about it, the New England Patriots have used this season to rally behind their Quarter Back to get back at Roger Goodell for what they believe was an unjust suspension.

The Patriots seem invincible (also the name of a terrible football movie starring their biggest fan and a personal favorite of mine, Mark Wahlberg). But will they be able to stick it to the man and walk away from the Screw Roger Goodell Tour as Super Bowl 51 Champions?

The Atlanta Falcons, on the other hand, are a surprise representative of the NFC. Very few had the Falcons winning the NFC South, heck I didn’t even have them making it to the postseason. But here they are, appearing in only their 2nd Super Bowl (their first being super bowl XXXIII back in the 1998 season when they were known as “The Dirty Birds”). Led by MVP candidate QB Matt Ryan AKA Matty Ice (4,944 passing Yards, 38 TDs, 7 INTs), the Falcons also feature a high-powered offense that has a plethora of weapons. These weapons include WR Julio Jones (83 receptions, 1,409 receiving yards, 6 TDs) and the two head monster RB tandem of Devonta Freeman (1,079 rushing Yards, 11 rushing TDs) and Tevin Coleman (520 rushing Yards, 421 receiving yards, 11 total TDs). The Falcons’ offense seems like an unstoppable force, as they’ve blown past their playoff opponents, scoring 36 points against the  Seattle Seahawks “Legion of Boom”  defense in the NFC Divisional round and hanging nearly 50 points (ok… it was only 44) on the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game.

The Falcons defense, however, isn’t nearly as strong as their offense. Their defense ranked 25th in the NFL this past season, allowing opponents to gain 371.1 yards per game. Their scoring defense fared even worse, ranking 27th in the NFL with teams scoring an average of 25.4 points per game. That being said, the Falcons do have some key playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, chief among them OLB Vic Beasley, who led the NFL with 15.5 sacks this season. They also have a key veteran presence in their locker room, the 36-year-old and future Hall of Famer DE Dwight Freeney. Freeney previously won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts in 2006, when they won Super Bowl XLI (one of the worst ever, but featured one of the greatest half-time shows of all time with Prince performing).

The Falcons are somewhat of a mystery to national audiences across America this year, but will their history of choking in big game spots (* see Super Bowl XXXIII, 2004 NFC Championship game, 2010 Divisional Round, 2012 NFC Championship game, and the final regular season game of the 2014 NFL season as proof*) come back to haunt them?

Prediction: Patriots 28, Falcons 24

A lot of people have this as a high scoring game, with the over/under currently at 59 points. I think we’re going to see a lower scoring game, as I’m predicting neither team will score over 28 points. In the game of football, I have a theory: whichever team allows their opponent to score 28 points first, will more than likely lose. The Falcons defense just isn’t good enough to prevent the Patriot’s offense from scoring 28 points. Tom Brady and his electrifying offense will go on the classic drive that puts the Patriots up for good in the 4th quarter. Their solid, but not flashy, defense will force the Falcons to choke (*see previously mentioned choke jobs above*) in the 4th quarter.

Then, we’ll all get to see the reality TV moment of the millennium: Roger Goodell handing the Lombardi Trophy to Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft. They’ll all pretend to be nice and cordial up on the stage, but Goodell will probably defecate himself. Brady, Belichick, and Kraft will all scream into the microphone to FOX Analyst and Steelers Hall of Fame QB Terry Bradshaw “THEY HATE US ‘CAUSE THEY AIN’T US. THANK YOU ALL FOR JOINING US ON THE SCREW ROGER GOODELL TOUR! GOODNIGHT!” Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating. But even for all of those rooting against the Patriots (including me, I’m just not dumb enough to pick against them at this point, mainly because the aren’t playing Eli Manning, their kryptonite), one has to acknowledge that scene would make for compelling television.

Super Bowl 51 will be a captivating game, but it won’t reach the legendary levels of all time Super Bowls such as Super Bowl XLII (Giants V. 18-0 Patriots), Super Bowl XLIII (Steelers V. Cardinals, WR Santonio Holmes’ tiptoe catch), Super Bowl XXV (Giants V. Bills, K Scott Norwood misses wide right), or Super Bowl XXXIV (Titans V. Rams, 1 yard short). Tom Brady will be ordained as the G.O.A.T., and we will all have to live through a whole NFL off-season of hearing how great the Patriots are, every sensible persons’ worst nightmare, but a fitting end to the Patriot’s Screw Roger Goodell Tour.

*All stats from ESPN.COM