The New England Patriots are a 4 ½-point favorite to win their sixth Super Bowl Sunday against the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles.
Expect a closer game. A much closer game. Listeners and readers of the Talk of Fame Network do.
In our poll last week, we asked our followers to tell us who’s going to win the Super Bowl. It was all but a toss up, with the Patriots edging ahead late to win. New England received 52 percent of the vote, the Eagles 48 percent.
The Talk of Fame Network hosts were split with Ron Borges and Clark Judge casting their votes for the Patriots and Rick Gosselin going with the Eagles.
“Bet against Tom Brady if you want,” Borges said, “but if the Giants aren't on the other sideline, so far, you lose. So I'll take the chalk and go with the Patriots.”
The Patriots captured their ninth consecutive AFC East title with a 13-3 record. New England finished first in the NFL in offense, 29th in defense and third in special teams.
The Patriots were rewarded for their success with four Pro Bowl selections: quarterback Tom Brady, fullback James Develin, tight end Rob Gronkowski and special-teams ace Matthew Slater. Brady led the NFL with his 4,577 passing yards and finished second with 32 TD passes.
The Patriots eliminated the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC playoffs and now will be playing in their 10th Super Bowl. They are looking for their an NFL-record-tying sixth Lombardi Trophy.
"The Patriots don't have the better team," Judge said, "but they have the better quarterback. Correction: They have the best quarterback. I learned long ago never, ever, ever to underestimate Tom Brady. So I won't."
The Patriots have beaten the Eagles once before in a Super Bowl, and have also beaten the Rams, Panthers, Seahawks and Falcons for Lombardi Trophies. As Borges pointed out, New England’s only two Super Bowl losses came at the hands of the New York Giants.
“The Eagles owe the Patriots one from 2004,” Gosselin said.
The Eagles captured their first NFC East crown in four years with a 13-3 record, finishing seventh in the NFL in offense, fourth in defense and 13th in special teams.
The Eagles were rewarded for their success with six Pro Bowl selections: quarterback Carson Wentz, tight end Zach Ertz, tackle Lane Johnson, guard Brandon Brooks, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and safety Malcolm Jenkins.
Wentz led the NFL with 33 TD passes despite missing the final 2 ½ games of the season with a knee injury. Nick Foles has replaced him and engineered upset playoff victories over the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings. The Eagles will be making their third trip to the Super Bowl looking for their first victory.
Philadelphia won its last NFL championship in the pre-Super Bowl era in 1960.