The Pitt News

Philly hasn’t played anyone noteworthy

By KEITH WEHMEYER

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Flap your wings all you want, Eagles fans, but you better break out your map and compass,… Flap your wings all you want, Eagles fans, but you better break out your map and compass, because your proverbial road to victory is about to take a detour again.

I now introduce to you the New England Patriots.

In their past two Super Bowls, the Patriots have chosen to go against the grain, skipping individual player introductions in favor of being introduced as a team. Now, as a team, New England is on the cusp of being considered a dynasty. After a victory over the Eagles on Sunday, the Patriots will have won three of the past four Super Bowls, a feat matched by only one team, the Dallas Cowboys.

The path the Patriots have taken to the Super Bowl has done plenty to prove they are worthy. In this year’s playoffs, the Patriots had to go through both the NFL’s best offense and best defense — the Colts and the Steelers, respectively — in consecutive weeks. The Patriots held Indianapolis, and the touchdown machine known as Peyton Manning, to only a field goal. Against the Steelers, 41 points made their way up onto the scoreboard.

The Eagles, on the other hand, reached the Super Bowl by default. In the playoffs, they took on the Vikings, who, with an 8-8 regular season record, shouldn’t have even been allowed in the playoffs at all. Then they faced Michael Vick, who, without a team, would have been better off staying at home.

During the regular season, the Eagles made a living beating up on sub-par opponents. Only two of Philadelphia’s 11 regular-season victories came against teams with winning records, and two of their three loses came against AFC teams. The other three teams in the Eagles’ division had identical 6-10 records to finish the season.

New England went 14-2 playing in the AFC East, a division that sent two teams to the playoffs and had a third team that was still in the hunt until the final week of the season. The AFC East saw three teams finish with nine or more wins, and combined to record an 11-3 overall record against the NFC; the Patriots went a perfect 4-0 against NFC teams.

Bill Belichick and the Patriots faced the Eagles during week two of last season. The Patriots forced six Eagles turnovers and held them to 169 yards passing and 99 rushing. Tom Brady, on the other hand, completed 30 of his 44 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns en route to a 31-10 victory on the Eagles’ home field.

The Patriots’ past success came without a key component of this year’s team, Corey Dillon. Dillon was supposed to be a virus whose selfish attitude would undermine New England’s success. Instead, Dillon has thrived, finishing third in the NFL in rushing with 1,635 yards and giving the Patriots’ offense a dimension they lacked in the past.

Dillion gives the Patriots a tool to expose the Eagles’ suspect run defense. The Eagles gave up 119 yards per game, a number that would have been higher if opponents didn’t force themselves to pass by handing the Eagles early leads.

The Patriots are well coached and do what it takes to win. They have a receiver who plays defensive back in Troy Brown and a linebacker who plays tight end, Mike Vrabel. Vrabel had two receiving touchdowns during the season, and Brown, three interceptions.

The Patriots are undefeated in the playoffs with Belichick and Brady leading the way. Belichick’s game plans are notorious for shutting down what his opponents do best, and Brady is at his best in big games. Against the Eagles on Sunday, don’t expect things to be any different.

Keith Brady Wehmeyer is a staff writer for The Pitt News and is fed up with Eagles fans comparing their championship drought to that of the Red Sox. Give it another 50 years.

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Philly hasn’t played anyone noteworthy