WASHINGTON , DC: Our man Ebs felt the pressing need to break down the Buffalo Sabres yesterday, so it falls to me to take the first look at the Super Bowl. Among other things, we’ll discuss Bill Belichick, an honorable man who would rather lose than compromise the integrity of the game. That may seem false at first glance, but facts are now fluid. We at MeetTheMatts.com have been using alternative facts since before it was cool, so buckle up.
God, I hate the Patriots. Maybe not as much as The Dude hates The Fl*ck!ng Eagles… but a lot. I maintain that Spygate is a huge taint on their legacy. The massive library of footage from other teams’ practices gave them a huge advantage. They got off easy. (Sidebar: Don’t you find it odd that Belichick, a guy famous for saying nothing in interviews, is a fan of Trump, a guy who erupts non-stop, like a volcano of sh!t? Also, I wonder what it feels like to have an entire gender protest you? Dude, sports!) Sorry. That aside, I have to give the Patriots some grudging respect. They see value in players where other teams don’t. They are ruthless in letting players go instead of keeping them past their expiration dates. They hold their players to a high standard and are not shy about sending valuable guys packing if they don’t conform. They find favorable match-ups, exploit weaknesses, and buck trends like no other team. It’s undeniably impressive.
When Gronk went down, everyone said they were vulnerable. Oh yeah? After a brief adjustment sputter, the offense kicked right back into gear. The other play-makers were asked to carry a little more water and lightly used players were eased into more prominent roles. Belichick is a coxswain who gets each oarsman to pull a little harder when his strongest rower goes down. The Chicken or the Egg, The Brady or The Belichick, who-is-more-important debate, is a compelling one. Most people think Brady needs Bill more than Bill needs Brady. And we know the Pats would be good without Brady. They won 11 games with Matt Cassel and were 3-1 without Brady this year. They got enough out of Jimmy Garoppolo to convince Cleveland to give up a 2nd and 5th round draft pick for him this upcoming off-season. You’ll see. But it’s hard to imagine the Pats excelling in the playoffs as they have without Mr. Bündchen behind center.
At the start of the playoffs, no one was really paying attention to the Falcons. They’ll fold like they always do, right? But after they took out the Seahawks, fans were falling all over themselves to proclaim them title contenders. And on Sunday, sure, we expected them to score some points, but did anyone expect them to make it so hard on Rodgers? Going in, it felt like the team who had the ball last would win. But this one was over early. Julio Jones has the game breaking ability to take one to the house and the size to out-muscle defenders. He’s Odell and Dez in one. Look for the Pats to try to take him away, but Matty Ice uses a lot of different weapons. Sanu, Hooper, Gabriel, Coleman, and Freeman got a lot of early looks on Sunday and when the defense reacted, Julio landed the biggest punches.
“Defense wins championships” is a lesson I have to re-learn damn near every year. I wagered on the favored Panthers against the mighty defense of Denver last year. Many of us thought the teams with the two best QBs would win, but it turned out the teams with the two best defenses moved on. No one seems to realize that the Patriots gave up the fewest points in the NFL this season. The Falcons defense was inconsistent, but they seem to be coming together at the right time. There were only two close games in the entire playoffs, so hopefully the Bowl will be entertaining. On one side we have the perennial contender and seven time SB QB vs the peaking new guys going for their first ring. The Pats opened as a three point favorite, but the vast majority of the country will be rooting against them. They have the experience and the better defense, so it’s easy to see Brady and Belichick becoming the first QB/HC to win five Super Bowls. If they do win, it will suck, but there will be one positive. The moment when Goodell hands the trophy to Bob Kraft, with Brady and Belichick looking on with the smugness of Deflategate vengeance attained in their eyes, it will be an awesomely awkward sight for sore eyes.
Stop by tomorrow for Angry Ward, the trusty coxswain who makes this creaky boat go. Follow us on Twitter at @benwhit & @MeetTheMatts, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.