Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Foofaraw in Phoenix

I heard a rumor there’s some football game going on this weekend. Is this true?

All eyes will be on the New England Patriots as they pursue the greatest season ever against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

If you root for the Patriots (assuming you aren’t from New England), you probably also root for Microsoft, Rupert Murdoch and Darth Vader. As much as we all love to see a well-played game, it’s hard to like a juggernaut.

And it’s not hard to find a reason to not like the Patriots. It started with Spygate at the beginning of the season, when the team was caught cheating, paid a hefty fine and lost a draft pick (but somehow still get the seventh pick in this year’s draft!). Add to that a quarterback who appears to have never heard of Trojans (and not USC, either), a brilliant receiver with a history of playing when he feels like it, and a head coach who has unapologetically run up the score all season, and you wind up with a team that has replaced the Oakland Raiders as the league’s embodiment of evil.

As easy as it is to hate the Patriots, it’s hard to bet against them (straight up, anyway). Why? Because they’re just that good.

Tom Brady has always had a knack for short-passing opponents to death. With the addition of long-range target Randy Moss (who they got for a fourth-round draft pick, making the Pats the beneficiaries of the most one-sided trade since Peter Minuit), he can now beat you short or long. I could analyze each position, but suffice to say there isn’t a weak link on the team.

The Giants have momentum on their side, which can count for quite a bit under the right circumstances. Jamie posted an excellent blog entry on Eli Manning below. Since that post, the Giants’ win over the Packers has shown that the little brother has come of age. As the youngest of five kids, I can relate. They may not be as deep at every position as the Patriots, but they have already shown they can overcome adversity. Many pundits wrote them off after an 0-2 start, and didn’t give them much chance as the fifth playoff seed in the weaker of the two conferences. They are already the first team in NFL history to win 10 road games in a season, so what’s one more?

An upset is not out of the question. It would be big. Not Appalachian State or Buster Douglas big, but certainly comparable to the Jets in Super Bowl III.

Just don’t make any guarantees, Eli. It’s been done.

I asked the trusty random number generator on my calculator to make a Super Bowl prediction. First, I had it select a random number, 1 or 2—1 for Patriots, 2 for Giants. Then I selected two random numbers between 0 and 50. The higher is the winner’s score, the lower is the loser’s (or, as Ned Flanders would say, the team that does not win). So, here’s the wisdom of a few random microchips from our friends at Texas Instruments:

Patriots 41, Giants 28.

Read into it what you will. In the words of the great Myron Cope, if you bet the wrong way, then you made your own bed.

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