First off, I have to give my props to the Patriots. We may love to hate on them, but IMHO they will go down as the greatest franchise in NFL history, and will always be known as having had the greatest coach and greatest QB - ever.
However they did it, whether by cheating or having some secret sauce, no other team has ever accomplished more, or been more productive. I think this is their 21st SuperBowl, isn't it? And yes, I'm tired of hearing about them.
This year, they aren't quite as good as years past. The saying better lucky than good certainly applies. But their fundamentals are really good, and that's why they win.
And in many games this year, especially in the playoffs, Bellichick essentially outcoached his opponent. And I don't mean on the whole - I mean on the little things. If you take the Jags game as an example, the Jags had a nice lead and we were heading into the half.
The Jags got the ball deep and I said to a friend that this would be the deciding drive; the Jags had to hold onto the ball, maybe score, and use the clock. They met part of that, but wound up giving the ball back to the Patriots with just over 2 minutes left on a dumb sequence that didn't let the clock run and the Patriots scored. And then they took a knee to end the half.
Those kinds of moments decide games.
And so now they face the Eagles. The one thing they do REALLY well are those fundamentals. Deciding how to use the clock and when to punt are among the things that go into the decision making. I thought this article summed it up well:
And that's because Doug Pederson gets it. You may recall he was the starting QB (a 3rd stringer to boot!) when Shula got win #325 to have the all-time wins record. He learned from Shula, Marino, Andy Reid, and many others. I've met him and thought he was a pretty smart and savvy guy.
And the thing is that he spent several seasons as the “quality control” person with the Eagles. That role is more or less of a data analyst. He watched a lot of game film and charted success and failure. I have to imagine that helped him to form some opinions of when to go for it, when to use timeouts, and understanding some of the same kinds of things that Bellichick does.....and that has mostly paid off, and I have to imagine he has some ideas of what could work in certain situations. And may rival Bellichick in that critical moment in a game.
So my thought is that he'll manage to pull it out - just because of this. He has what probably is a slightly more talented team, and so long as he doesn't have a brain fart the Eagles will win.
Photo from NFL.com