Thursday, January 31, 2008

Super Bowl XLII Q&A

Super Bowl XLII marks only the XLnd Super Bowl game in which both coaches and both starting quarterbacks were white. One of the refreshing things about this Super Bowl is that neither of the head coaches (Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin) or starting quarterbacks (Tom Brady and Eli Manning) have brought up race as a factor. In fact, the media has been strangely silent about skin color. We'll have to wait until the game is over to see if race really, truly wasn't an issue. There's always a chance that one of these guys might play the race card.

If the Patriots win, are they the greatest team ever?

As much as it pains me to say this, the answer is Yes. Granted, the teams in their division stunk, but they beat the Colts, the Chargers (twice), the Jaguars, the Cowboys, the Giants (twice), and one or two other playoff teams. The only elite team they didn't play this year was the Green Bay Packers. Sure, the Patriots' coaching staff was fined heavily for cheating, and they have two of the dirtiest players in the league (Harrison and Wilfork), but that just makes them more despicable, not less great. For memories of happier times, check out this game-winning play from last year's AFC championship when the Colts' center pancaked the hated Wilfork). Unfortunately, that loss against the Colts was the springboard to the Patriots' insanely high level of play this year.

The Patriots are too good to get blown out, and they're too clutch to get beaten in a tight game, which means . . . they never lose. Even if the Patriots had lost one of the few close games they played this year, I still think they'd go down as the greatest team ever. Going undefeated makes the point moot.

What is the year's greatest disappointment?

That the Colts didn't get to play in New England for the AFC championship. They lost 28-24 to a good but undermanned Chargers team, failing to put the game away early when they had the chance and choking at the end. In the preseason, the Colts looked like they were going to fall apart after winning the Super Bowl like so many other defending champions have done. They lost their two cornerbacks, their two defensive tackles, both outside linebackers, their all-pro offensive tackle, and their starting running back to free agency or injury. Later in the year they lost Marvin Harrison, one of the greatest wide receivers ever, and defensive end Dwight Freeney, their most valuable defensive player (yes, Freeney is more valuable than Bob Sanders). The Colts went 13-3, but the defense seemed to be getting it done with smoke and mirrors, especially with Freeney out. They rely on quickness and a strong 4-man pass rush, which they get with Freeney in the game. But against the great offensive lines like San Diego's and New England's, the Colts couldn't rush the passer.

I still would have loved to see the Colts play the Patriots. Manning was playing really well towards the end of the season even without Harrison, and he's less susceptible to choking when he's the underdog. Ah, what could have been! If Brady threw three picks against the Colts like he did against the Chargers, we'd probably be getting pleasantly sick of hearing about Eli versus Peyton in the Super Bowl, and I'd be comparing New England fans to the guy in Return of the Jedi who has to hold back tears when Luke Skywalker crushes the gate down onto his monster's head. Now they're gloating, the whiny pricks. I can't wait to hear them complain when Kevin Garnett chokes in the playoffs.

Why is Eli playing so well?

Tiki Barber retired and Jeremy Shockey got injured. The two loudmouth leaders aren't on the field, and now Eli is playing with more confidence. Post hoc ergo propter hoc? Indeed!

Do the Giants have any chance of beating the Patriots?

Sure, Any Given Sunday and all that. But I don't like the fact that Plaxico Burress is talking trash before the game. Odds are he'll play like Jerramy Stevens did a couple years ago when he talked trash before the Seahawks played the Steelers in the Super Bowl. He dropped three or four passes, hurting the Seahawks more than any other factor besides untimely calls.

And then there's the fact that the 2007 Patriots are the greatest team of all time. It's very difficult to beat the greatest team of all time. That issue notwithstanding, go Giants!