Super Bowl prediction

Since early in the season, I expected a Pittsburgh-Philadelphia Super Bowl resulting in a Pittsburgh victory. I abandoned that idea two weeks ago when I picked the Patriots and Eagles in the conference championship games. When it comes to playoffs and Super Bowls, I think that coaching matters much more than most people think, since the talent levels of the teams are more equal than they are for most regular season games.

Andy Reid is a solid coach, but he is not a great one. He doesn’t get outcoached, for the most part, but neither does he outcoach anyone, not even Mike Tice. Bill Belicheck, on the other hand, has repeatedly proven himself to be a Jedi master, with game plans in this year’s playoffs that left two very good teams, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, in near-complete disarray. Notice how there hasn’t even been a whisper of Charlie Weis being distracted by his moonlighting job as the Notre Dame head coach of late. The Patriots are a strategic machine, awesome to behold.

Factor in the Terrell Owens injury and the “happy-to-be-there” factor of the Eagles, and I suspect that under the guidance of the maglia ex machina, the Patriots will methodically dismantle the Eagles. I don’t think it will be a blow-out, and the combination of a tough Eagles defense and a screw-the-gameplan drive filled with scrambles by McNabb will probably help the Eagles make a last, desperate push to keep the game close in the third quarter, but this one should be over early in the fourth with a nail-in-the-coffin Patriots score.

I’m not displeased at the prospect. The Patriots were my third favorite team* until Jacksonville entered the league – my family has New England roots – and while the loss to the Bears in 1985 wasn’t anywhere nearly as painful as the three Vikings’ Super Bowl defeats I’ve suffered through, (I was too young to watch the KC game), it’s still been nice to see it avenged so thoroughly – and at the expense of Mike Martz, no less! As dynasties go, the Patriots make a much more palatable one than the monstrous Steelers, the evil 49ers or the much-despised Redskins**.

*I’m not sure where the Packers rank. They are something of a beloved enemy. I cheered for them against the Patriots in the Desmond Howard Super Bowl, but it just doesn’t seem right to consider the team that you always want to beat above all else as one of your favorite teams. It’s not just an NFC Central (North) thing either, because I never cheer for the Bears or the Lions unless they’re going against the AFC (ex Patriots and Jags), the 49ers or the Redskins.

**The Cowboys are my second favorite team. A distant second, mostly, but it’s still enough to inspire a degree of antipathy for the Redskins, aided more than a little by the memory of Darrin Nelson’s butterfingers.