SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Is Sports Illustrated Smoking Crack?

The football cognoscenti at SI have picked the Patriots to beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl, 26-23.

Here are some issues I have with this prognostication:

1. If you look at the individual unit grades for the Eagles when compared to other teams, the Eagles' grades are nothing to write home about save the secondary. So why does SI pick the Birds to finish first in the NFC East?

2. SI also defies recent history by picking a losing team from a prior year's Super Bowl to win the game the next year. Most typically, the prior year's Super Bowl loser has trouble making the playoffs the following year. Yes, I know that Bill Belichick is a great coach and all of that, but the Patriots are human, too. Tom Brady has some nagging injuries, OL Stephen Neal is out, one half of their linebacking corps is aging and their secondary is relatively new. Those facts don't mean that the Pats will go 8-8, but they also don't signify a return visit to the Super Bowl, either.

3. As for the Eagles, let's look at the bright side first. They have an excellent and deep secondary and a hungry, young linebacking corps (that SI overrates because these guys haven't done a whole lot yet). Their starters on the defensive line are formidable, but they lack depth. As for the offense, the offensive line is a question mark. The tackles are old, and C Jamal Jackson and LG Todd Herremans didn't have good years last year. RG Shawn Andrews has health problems, although there are some promising backups. TE LJ Smith is an underachiever, and the receiving corps doesn't scare anyone, although rookie DeSean Jackson is a breakaway threat and a good kick returner. QB Donovan McNabb could have a great year, but he's been injured so often that it's hard to count on him for a full season. If he's healthy and plays the way he's capable of playing, the Eagles could go 12-4 the way SI predicts they will. It says here, though, that the Birds will go 10-6 and perhaps win one playoff game.

Philadelphia fans, naturally, are buoyed by SI's prediction, but they've been disappointed so frequently that they know deep down much has to go right for the Eagles to seriously contend for the Super Bowl.

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