If you’re like me, then by now, you’ve become frustrated with nearly every Super Bowl storyline. You’re done with press conferences. You’ve gone from nervous to angry. You just want Sunday to arrive.
Well, we’re just a few more days from either seeing Nick Foles shock the world, or watching the Patriots win back-to-back championships for the second time in franchise history.
That’s ultimately what Super Bowl LII comes down to, Brady and Foles. It’s the greatest quarterback of all-time taking on a backup quarterback.
And I’m going with Brady. I’m taking the Patriots to win by a touchdown. The biggest difference maker? New England’s offensive line.
It sounds like simple analysis. And you can probably say it about every NFL team in every game. But it’s a fact.
Protect Brady, and the Patriots will win the Super Bowl.
Philadelphia’s pass rush changed everything about the NFC Championship. In fact, you could make the argument that if Eagles defensive end Chris Long didn’t get to Vikings quarterback Case Keenum late in the first quarter, then perhaps Philadelphia doesn’t even win that game and advance to the Super Bowl.
The Vikings scored all too easy on the first possession of the game. It was a nine-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a 25-yard touchdown pass from Keenum to Kyle Rudolph and a 7-0 lead for Minnesota, just five minutes into the game.
The Eagles then ran four plays and punted. It felt like Minnesota was going to run away with it.
Then, on 3rd-and-8 from the Vikings’ own 43-yard line, Philadelphia sent a four-man rush. No tricks, nothing disguised, and Long toasted Minnesota’s right tackle. He just got a piece of Keenum’s throwing arm as he attempted a pass to his right, and it resulted in an underthrown ball and a pick-six. Suddenly, the game was tied at 7-7. And that’s when Foles took over, throwing for 352 yards and three touchdowns.
It’s amazing how one play can change a football game. But it shouldn’t be surprising to see that pressure on the quarterback can win you a football game. And to me, that’s the only way the Eagles can beat the Patriots. They have to get to Brady and force a turnover.
If the Patriots’ offensive line can give Brady time, we’ve come to expect that he’ll be able to make all the big plays. Question is, can Foles keep up with Brady?
Because we’ve also come to expect that Bill Belichick will make all the right adjustments at halftime. So, perhaps the better question is, can Foles keep up with Brady in the second half of the Super Bowl?
People will talk about blueprints. They’ll tell you that Tom Coughlin has it. Or they’ll tell you that Brady will see ghosts if you can get in his kitchen.
What they fail to understand is the Patriots’ blueprint to success, which is protecting Brady’s kitchen. When New England’s offensive line does that, it’s nearly impossible to beat Brady. And as history shows, more often than not, his kitchen has been very well protected.
A strong showing from the Patriots’ offensive line won’t just help Brady, it’ll also help Dion Lewis, who seems motivated to have a big game against his old team.
I know, this sounds like the most generic form of “Football 101” you’ll find. But in the two weeks leading up to Super Bowl LII, the headlines can get so outrageous that sometimes you need to dial it back and understand what the most important key to the game is.
And if the Patriots’ offensive line can give Brady the proper amount of time to do his thing, there’s just no way that Foles can keep up.
Listen to “The Danny Picard Show” at dannypicard.com. Follow him on Twitter @DannyPicard.