The Athletic Reporter
September 12, 2005 Sports News the Way You Want It. Completely Made Up. Issue 127
The Average Mulder
by Joe Mulder
Can't Stop the Patriots

Well, I couldn't have been more wrong last year, when I picked the Patriots to beat the Panthers in a blowout. As you no doubt remember, the game came down to the final seconds, and the Patriots, favored by a touchdown, only won by three.

In fact, until this year's playoffs, they had a bit of a tendency to squeak by on lucky bounces and last-second heroics (although they deserve credit for being in a position to capitalize on lucky bounces, and for developing players capable of last-second heroics).

This year, though, the Patriots destroyed the Colts and Steelers, the two teams that, going into the playoffs, were thought by many, many people who turned out to be very wrong (me included) to be the two best teams in football. I say they destroy the Eagles. After all, it's a two-week Super Bowl, and, other than last year's game, those tend to be blowouts.

The Eagles are getting the press, probably since it's their first trip to the Super Bowl since 1981. What can you possibly write about the Patriots? Troy Brown is versatile; Adam Vinatieri is clutch; Tom Brady is a stud. Yeah. We know. But what if T.O.'s ankle; now there's a story!

Yes, Owens' ankle, Freddie Mitchell's mouth and Andy Reid's gut have been getting a great deal of attention, when in fact the body parts most likely to determine the outcome of the game are Tom Brady's heart, Bill Belichick's brain and Adam Vinatieri's foot. I think the Patriots defense will have an answer for Brian Westbrook and a hobbled Terrell Owens, I think Corey Dillon will have a huge, I've-been-waiting-for-this-all-my-life type of game, and I think these Patriots will join the 70s Steelers, the 80s 49ers and the 90s Cowboys -- none of whom, it is worth noting, ever lost a Super Bowl during their particular reigns atop the league -- in the pantheon of dominant modern-era NFL teams.

The Patriots are favored (at press time) by seven and the over/under is 48; I'm feeling frisky, so I'll take the Patriots and the under, relying on Belichick's defensive brilliance -- and, yes, to some extent, the actual Patriot players -- to hold the Eagles to 14 points or less.

And once that's out of the way, how about next year? Three-peat? No team has ever won three Super Bowls in a row; do you want to bet the Patriots can't do it? I don't.
Joe Mulder

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