Super Bowl column: Patriots


On Sunday, the undefeated New England Patriots will take to the field for their fourth Super Bowl appearance in seven seasons. And for the fourth time in seven seasons, the Patriots will return to Foxboro, Mass. with the Lombardi Trophy in tow.

The following are a few reasons the Patriots will win it all:

A red-hot offense: Through the regular season, the Pats scored an NFL record 589 points and outpaced their opponents by 315 total points. Tom Brady threw a single season record 50 touchdowns, while Randy Moss had 23 touchdown receptions. Those stats, coupled with the fact that the Patriots almost never turn the ball over, spell trouble for the New York Giants.

A ‘bend but don’t break’ defense: The New England defensive group ranks in the top 10 in the NFL in virtually every category and had a +16 turnover ratio in the regular season. While the middle of the Patriot secondary has looked suspect at times this season, the team also collected 47 sacks this season and Manning won’t pose much of a threat from his back.

Experience and confidence: After tacking on a pair of playoff wins, the team is on the verge of becoming the first NFL team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins to go wire-to-wire without losing a single game. During the last five months, this team has been tested in a dozen different ways-including a few last-minute wins.

Despite New England’s storied history, this is the biggest game that most of these players will ever compete in. That being said, the Pats have proven time and time again that they can beat the best of them and that they do not falter in the big game. Expect more of the same.

Compare this experience to that of New York quarterback Eli Manning, who was 0-2 in the playoffs just one month ago. His nearly flawless play in the 2008 playoffs has made believers out of many skeptics, as the young quarterback has led his team to a trio of wins over the Buccaneers, the Cowboys and the Packers. The latter two clubs were largely considered to be the class of the NFC. But despite recent triumphs, Manning has never played in a game on par with the Super Bowl.

When people talk of the sudden improvement in Manning’s play, most point to week 17. In that game, New York lost 38-35, and it was clearly a turning point for Manning and his team, but the facts remain. Against the Pats, the Giants didn’t get the job done in December and they won’t get the job done in February.

Superior coaching: After a cheating scandal, the team from New England railed off 15 more regular season wins, showing that they can beat teams, with or without memorizing defensive signals. Head coach Bill Belichick was portrayed as the angry vigilante, who was blowing teams out to prove a point.

Whether the claims are true or not, it is clear that the man is currently the best coach in the NFL and he has got to be getting used to this position. Belichick was in charge of the Giants’ defense when the team won a pair of Super Bowls over a decade ago and has been at the helm for three more in New England. He is 15-3 in the playoffs as a head coach.

On an interesting side note, the Patriots have won each of their three Super Bowls by three points. I’ll stick with tradition:

New England 27, New York 24