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AFC North

Speaking of which, Super Bowl edition

Speaking of which, Super Bowl edition
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So the Patriots are in the Super Bowl again.

 

Yawn.

 

Far be it from me to criticize their unprecedented run of success.  Nine Super Bowl appearance in 18 years, rumors of cheating notwithstanding, is amazing, and to say otherwise is the epitome of ignorant hatred.  I will not be supporting the Patriots – I’ve logged a few years and lost a few dollars holding that stance – but any fan of the game knows that we’re witnessing history each time the Patriots line up in February.  An equivalent run will most likely not happen in our lifetimes, so love ’em or hate ’em, enjoy this while they’re…”still here”.  Speaking of which…

 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is most assuredly front and center this week in the wake of the most hotly-discussed, controversial non-call in playoff history.  Goodell finally broke his silence on the issue, although his meandering responses don’t point to much of a solution other than expanding the current replay system.  Also of note is the fact that he never considered reversing the outcome of the game due to the non-call, which is understandable, but does little to ameliorate the fact that the wrong NFC team is playing in the Super Bowl as a result of “one more human who will make mistakes like the rest of us.”  Speaking of which…

 

The call to expand replay is being met with skepticism by the NFL’s Competition Committee and Chairman Rich McKay in particular, whose concerns seem to be more centered around the inconvenience to officials rather than the obvious improvements to the game.  It’s this sort of shortsighted thinking that seriously irritates fans, who only wish to see games administered and judged correctly.  Here’s a tip, fellas – if you really want to improve the on-field product, start by hiring competent officials and include a means to check them when they make obvious, clear-to-everyone-else errors.  Everyone watches games in real time, so when officials screw up, there’s a few million people that can confirm the validity – or lack thereof – of a call.  Surely a few of those viewers exist in the league offices; let’s give them the power to act immediately when this situation arises.  Again; all the fans want and “are overwhelmingly in favor of” is a fairly officiated, good football game.  Speaking of which…

 

The Patriots/Rams matchup is intriguing due to the relative balance of both teams’ rosters.  Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has yet to be sacked in the postseason, but he has yet to face an interior pass rush as deep and ferocious as the Rams’.  Brady has historically been at his worst when pressured internally; having to move or roll out of the pocket limits his ability to read the field and react accordingly.  The Rams’ defensive front is well-positioned to make Brady move a bit; the pressure is surely on the Patriots’ offensive line to continue their excellent play.  Speaking of which…

 

Did I mention Brady has not been sacked this postseason?  Much of the credit is being showered upon long-time Patriots’ offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, whose short retirement ended in 2016 after a disastrous New England loss to the Broncos, and whose results since have long validated his re-hiring.  Scarnecchia’s reputation is well-deserved; he’s been coaching in the NFL for 33 years and has been with the Patriots for 31 of them.  He’s been involved with 11 Super Bowls as a coach, by far a high-water mark for an assistant.  If fans really want to see the reasons the Patriots have been so successful, guys like Scarnecchia should be honored for what they do so well.  Speaking of which…

 

Known as the “ageless wonder”, Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has been coaching in the NFL for 42 years after breaking in as an assistant to his father, legendary Oilers coach Bum Phillips.  The 71 year-old Wade Phillips has been an unmitigated success at almost every stop of his career…as a defensive coordinator.  The few times Phillips has ventured into the head coaching ranks, his teams produced mediocre results, prompting fans to write him off, only to have him reappear as a record-setting coordinator elsewhere.  Kudos to Phillips, who’s one of the NFL’s nice guys, for enduring the slings and arrows with class throughout his career.  One more Super Bowl ring would look pretty nice on his finger after Sunday night.  Speaking of which…

 

Prediction time:

 

I really think the Rams are the more talented squad.  Their roster, particularly on defense, is exceptional, and their offense has managed to stay competitive despite losing several key pieces during the season, not to mention the mysterious disappearance of all-world running back Todd Gurley during their playoff run.  Imagine what they could be with a complete roster.

 

That being said, the Patriots are clearly the more battle-tested team, and barring any internal sabotage, they will most likely cruise to a win due to superior scheming and planning.  If the Rams can hold their roster together, there may very well be titles in their future…but not this Sunday.

 

Patriots 31, Rams 27

 

 

Enjoy the day!

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