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Super Bowl Sneak Peek

   by Al McMordie - 01/25/2005

This is it – the final two weeks of the football season. The Eagles are champions of the NFC, while the Patriots come out of the AFC looking to defend their Super Bowl title. Surprise teams usually come out of the pack (Carolina a year ago, Tampa Bay two years ago), but this season has been unusual in that both Philadelphia and New England were the favorites back in August to win their respective conferences. Books aren’t liable for any 50-to-1 long shots to win the Super Bowl this season!

It will interesting to keep an eye on long range weather forecasts for northern Florida, as the Super Bowl will be played outdoors in Jacksonville. The Steelers and Vikings played a cold Super Bowl in 1975 outdoors in New Orleans (Tulane stadium), but bad weather has yet to play a role in the previous 38 Super Bowls. TV and NFL executives do not want to see pouring rain on Super Sunday, though it certainly would make for a memorable – and very different – NFL title game. Rain might cause a rush on players looking to bet the under, too, but it’s still too early for meteorological forecasts. There will be mounds of analysis to digest over the next two weeks as we countdown to Super Sunday. Here are some tidbits to mull over.

Eagles vs. AFC: Philadelphia rolled over NFC teams this season, going 13-1 straight up and 11-3 against the number. However, against AFC teams the Eagles were 2-2 SU and 0-4 ATS! That included a 27-3 loss at Pittsburgh.

Pats vs. NFC: New England was a perfect 4-0 SU/ATS against NFC teams. Since the AFC is considered the stronger conference this season, note that New England is 12-2 SU, 9-4 versus the AFC.

Dogs: The Eagles were 0-2 SU/ATS as an underdog this season, getting outscored by a 29-9 average in those games. Of course, those games came late in the year when they had already wrapped things up. The Patriots are 13-2 SU/10-4-1 ATS as a favorite.

Road Play: This is, technically, a neutral site for both teams, of course. The Eagles are 4-4 ATS on the road where they’ve outscored the opposition by a 23-18 average. The Patriots are 7-2 SU/ATS on the road where they’ve outscored the opposition by a 31-20 average.

Finally, these teams met last season, so there is at least one recent Andy Reid/Bill Belichick game to examine. In Week 2 of 2003, Philadelphia was a 4-point home favorite, but the Patriots dominated in a 31-10 rout. That came a week after New England’s 31-0 loss at Buffalo. New England’s defense forced six turnovers (4 fumbles) and held the Eagles to 268 total yards. The Patriots passed for 247 yards. New England didn’t have a lot of rushing yardage (76), but did run for 4.1 yards per carry – and remember, they didn’t have Corey Dillon, either. New England also dominated in time of possession, 36:35 to 23:25.

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