2018 NFL Playoff Picks – Super Bowl Edition

February 3rd, 2002, 17-years ago to the day, the mighty Rams fell, and Pats dynasty was born! Quite literally it was a dynasty that never was versus what we now know as the greatest dynasty in the history of the NFL.

I have railed the Pats more than anyone, I will admit I hate them, but in the words of Wes Mantooth, “I pure, straight hate them, but, dammit, do I respect them.” Of course, when I play the game, “Three sports wishes,” one of them is always simply call the “tuck rule” a fumble. It is fun to wonder if Tom Brady becomes the “cannot win the big one” guy. Again, Boston fans in 2001 weren’t exactly the most stable of fan bases. The Pats were 0-2 in Super Bowls, the Red Sox were sitting on 85 years of failure, the beloved Celtics drought had reached 15 years and the Bruins were the black sheep of the Boston sports family. Imagine if the Pats lose that game to the Raiders, does fan base with an inferiority complex allow the amazing Belichick to hang around? Is there pressure from the fans to keep Drew Bledsoe?

Ah, it’s fun to dream! The derivative of that sports wish – the Rams win Super Bowl 36!

Enough with the fantasies, on to the game. For me, it is simple, dress the Pats team in any other costume and the Rams are a clear favorite, as they were the better team the entire year, save for two game blips on the radar – a sub-freezing loss in Chicago and a mind-freeze against the Eagles. But it’s the Pats, this mythological figure known as the “God of victory.” I admit I bought into the Pats hype for about 48 hours, here is a sampling of the non-sense:

“You give Bill Belichick two weeks to prepare and he will shut down any offense” – Right, it’s not like the Eagles hung 41 on him last year.

“Tom Brady is the GOAT” – Literally, “GOAT” as in “Greatest Athlete of All-Time!” Put down the crack pipe! Thomas Brady is on the verge of losing his 4th Super Bowl, not sure he belongs in the same category as even Joe Montana. Joe Montana? Stick with me here, let’s imagine that the 80s version of the NFL, decided that they needed their star QBs, like Montana, to hang around until they were grandfathers, so they changed every rule to help not only offenses but also help keep the quarterbacks healthy. No more vicious Leonard Marshall hits, but rather a poised Montana standing in the pocket picking defenses apart with zero fear. Let’s also imagine that when the 49ers were planning to jettison Montana for a younger, more athletic, equally effective version in Steve Young, Montana stormed into Eddie D’s office and demanded Young be traded. How would that have turned out? Very possible that Montana wins two, maybe three more Super Bowls, but for sure he would have got at least one. You get the parallel’s with Brady, the NFL and Jimmy G.

“The Rams do not deserve to be in the Super Bowl” – That may be the case. But I would argue the Rams played the Saints to a virtual draw prior that horrific call, in the “toughest place to play in the NFL” and against a “QB/Coach combo that had never lost a home playoff game.” Moreover, the Rams rallied back from a 13-0 deficit ion that game – not the Pats would have righted the ship v. the Chiefs if Andy Reid decided to coach the first half.

“The NFL wants the Pats to win the Super Bowl” – I love a good conspiracy theory, but this one is seriously flawed. As I stated back at the beginning of the playoffs, the NFL is morphing into a scripted league, using officials to dictate desired outcomes. Of course, that is outlandish, but imagine this exchange from Raj to Al Riveron, the head of officiating:

RG – “Al, revenues are looking good for 2018, you can pass along to your employees that bonus money should be solid. Of course, that is based on ratings in the playoffs, which, as you know, has some fluidity. Our numbers tell us that the highest possible rating would be achieved with a Rams/Pats Super Bowl.”

Done.

Now onto the part about the Pats winning the Super Bowl. I mentioned before that the NFL is in a transition phase this year, from Brees to Mahomes, Roethlisberger to Josh Allen, Manning to Darnold, Stafford to Mayfield and, wait for it . . ., Brady to Goff. The NFL is not sending Brady out as a winner for two reasons – 1. Transitions of this nature are abrupt, old guy loses, then disappears for good. There is no riding off into the sunset, but rather dragged behind a horse as the credits roll.; and 2. As captain obvious would state, “the Rams have been the benefactor of the calls this post-season!” Why is that? Well, let’s look back at the Eagles regular season game for answers – the LA Coliseum was reported to be 60/40 Eagles fans. The NFL needs to develop a fan base in LA or “Stan’s world” is going to be empty on most Sunday’s in the fall. And in LA you don’t build a fan base by losing in the Super Bowl – titles are all that count. In fact, I think you can safely book it that the Rams not only win this year, but next year as well. Back-to-back titles should get enough people willing to cough up Junior’s college savings for end zone seats in the new Rams palace.

There you go a strong case for the Rams, based on math – better team and based on a very believable “WWE-esque” scenario.

One final thought – Brady’s comfortability in the pocket is paramount to the Pats success, he simply does not want to get hit. He has heard the stories of Earl Campbell, who takes three hours to get out of body due to his NFL wrecked body. Tom Brady doesn’t want any part of that and when he gets contact, he isn’t the same player, in fact, it’s not even close – see the Steelers game for proof. I think it goes even deeper for Tommy though, I think the threat of getting hit by an opposing defensive line makes him skittish, see Giants 2011 Super Bowl game as proof. As good as Brady is that is his kryptonite. His dreams have been haunted by Aaron Donald for two weeks. Furthermore, as most everyone knows I have long been an advocate of taking 15-yard personal foul shot on Brady early. It amazes me that teams don’t do this, the 15 yards would be a drop in the ocean compared to the effect on Brady. The Rams have just the player who will have no problem delivering a cheap shot – Ndamukong Suh.

Given that, I will boldly predict the following – 1. One flagrant personal foul on Brady by Suh; and 2. Some rule change this off-season to eject a player if, in the referee’s mind, the foul was “flagrant.” #MorePowertotheNFLRefs = #MoreScriptingtheNFL

Monday morning headlines:

Boston Globe: “Fans chant ‘One More Year’ as Brady ties Jim Kelly with record fourth Super Bowl loss!”

LA Times: “Government shutdown looms as Trump continues his personal agenda.”

“Rams win Super Bowl!”

Rams 31 Patriots 27

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