The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The 2017 season was, as expected, vastly different from the outlier of 2016. Underdogs, once again, had the edge, erasing nearly all of the gains made by ‘easy favorites’ the year before.
“Nearly all.” Not “all.”
Through the rebound, one team remained unscathed by the trends that ‘correct’ most teams out-of-position. It is the team that usually emerges ahead-of-the-pack. The one that has dominated the past decade. The one that finds itself trying to repeat as Super Bowl Champions.
It is, of course, the New England Patriots.
Standing in the way of history for an already historic run is a team that has overcome nearly every obstacle. After vaulting past two playoff teams from last year in their division, the Philadelphia Eagles also survived a season-ending injury to a quarterback firmly implanted in the MVP race. Even through the adversity, this Philadelphia squad was one of the most unlikely number one seeds to reach the big game and, as such, has been an underdog every step of the way, including on Sunday.
Wisely, it has embraced the role.
Below are predictions for each game against the spread. Spreads have been taken from various websites and are subject to change. The spread in parenthesis denotes the selected team. An asterisk denotes a confidence pick.
*Confidence Picks – 2017 Season: 53-48-4 (Last Week: 0-1)
(2016 Season: 53-67-3) (2015 Season: 69-45-2) (2014 Season: 61-46-2) (3-Year Total: 183-158-7)
All Picks Against Spread – 2017 Season: 137-118-11 (Last Week: 1-1)
(2016 Season: 123-136-8) (2015 Season: 143-117-7) (2014 Season: 149-114-4) (3-Year Total: 415-367-19)
Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots
As noted in the introduction of this single-pick column, the Patriots and Eagles will meet on Super Bowl Sunday as the same characters they have mastered recently. For the Eagles, this portrayal of the underdog only began when the team lost its quarterback for the season, but the Patriots entering a game as the ‘favorite’ is quite possibly the most common occurrence in the sports world.
What makes New England’s position so interesting is that it must always prepare for a game as the attacker – by virtue of being the ‘favorite’ – even if a change in gameplan is necessary. Conversely, Philadelphia can only hide behind the mask of the hunted for so long. Eventually, the fans, media, and players will start to convert.
It’s already happening.