It’s been the talk of New England for weeks now. Will the Pats blow out the Eagles in the Super Bowl? Or will the Eagles run away with this one? Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon put that question to sports blogger Mike Szostak.
This will be a close game. There's no doubt about it. Both teams have strengths, and a few weaknesses, but they both had to prove themselves to get this far.
Gronk will play, and there's no reason he can't be a factor. He's cleared the league's concussion protocol over the last two weeks, and he's no rookie. He's taken big hits, he's played injured, bottom line: he knows what's at stake.
Expect the Eagles to bring the pass rush. And early. The Patriots offensive line will need to mix things up to handle Philly. And they may pull out several different tricks, including the hurry-up offense and Tom Brady's deep passing game. But don't think the Eagles will tire out as quickly as some other defenses the Patriots have beaten. The Eagles rotate seven defensive lineman in and out of the game, instead of relying on fewer defenders, so they may not get as tired by the fourth quarter.
Brady and Belichick have nothing to prove. Brady has played in seven Super Bowls -- as many as the entire Philadelphia team -- and won five of them. At 40, he'll be the oldest quarterback ever to play in a Super Bowl, and he's more than proven his ability to come through down the stretch when the game is on the line. This season included. Brady's place in the NFL's hall of fame is plenty secure, as is the Kraft-Belichick-Brady dynasty.
Doubters and haters. Sure, there are plenty of people out there routing against the Pats. That's what happens when a team does the one thing the Patriots do so well: win.
The tale of the Eagles losing their starting quarterback and having a backup lead them to the Super Bowl should sound familiar. It's the story of Tom Brady. Give Philly's Nick Foles credit for what he has achieved since starter Carson Wents went down with a knee injury. He's shown he can run the offense and win.
Rewind to the 2001 season, and you will see the Patriot's starting quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, come out with an injury. That's when Tom Brady came in, led the team to the Super Bowl and led a drive down field in the final moments of the game, setting up the winning field goal. The only question now is who will be the hero this time?
Football is like a marriage. Over many years together, there are bound to be tensions. But reports of trouble in the Patriots locker room of late, especially between Kraft, Belichick and Brady, may be a red herring. If there's one thing these guys know how to do, it's win. And ultimately, that may be all that matters. The goal is to win another Super Bowl ring, to embellish their already sparkling legacy. It's hard to believe they'd let any differences get in the way.
Super Bowl kickoff time is at 6:30 p.m. EST.