Two of FOX Sports\' NFL masterminds go head-to-head with differing opinions on who will take home the prize at Super Bowl XXXIX.
Two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Jimmy Johnson says the Patriots will win their third Super Bowl in four years, but Daryl Johnston, who has three Super Bowl rings of his own, says Philly will end New England\'s run (see below).
This year\'s playoffs began with history being rewritten, when 8-8 teams won their first playoff games, and now it will finish with something that\'s also never happened before. The Eagles will win the Super Bowl, and here\'s why:
Andy Reid has dumped the conservative approach
I talked to Eagles coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Brad Childress before the regular season, and they said they were going to make a conscious effort throughout this entire season to be more aggressive. And they have been. Examples have been throwing to Greg Lewis into the wind against Atlanta in the NFC championship game and sticking with the downfield passing in the playoff game against Minnesota, even with a lead. Those are some things they did not do in the past.
I think Reid took a lot of criticism about being too conservative after losing the NFC championship game to Carolina last year. A lot of people said, \"Well, they couldn\'t be aggressive since they couldn\'t get off press coverage.\" But I think there are other ways to do it.
Last year when the team wasn\'t healthy, Reid tried to tighten the fences, and to me he should have gone the other way and opened it up instead of trying to close it down. The problem with playing it close to the vest, it only takes one or two mistakes to totally derail everything that you\'ve done.
Pats haven\'t faced elusive QB like McNabb
When the Patriots have faced Indy\'s Peyton Manning, they\'ve been able to focus on covering the wide receivers, because the defense doesn\'t have to worry at all about Manning running for a potentially game-changing play to keep a drive alive.
With Terrell Owens likely out, or at least limited with his injury, I think you\'re going to see more scrambling from McNabb. It doesn\'t have to be the Michael Vick-type of 45-yard run. It could be a 10-yard scramble on third-and-9 that creates more opportunities. The Patriots are going to have to play better than they did against Indianapolis because of McNabb\'s presence as a scrambler.
Do the Pats elect to spy him and have one guy assigned to make sure McNabb does break a long one? Well, here\'s the thing, T.O. or no T.O., Philly has a lot of guys that can get out on routes and become pass-catchers. And will the Patriots be willing to commit a guy to McNabb and take a chance on being a man short in the secondary?
Eagles not satisfied with \"just being there\"
Don\'t think McNabb is satisfied with just getting to the Super Bowl. Right after the win over Atlanta, he was immediately focusing on the next game. The Eagles came so close for three straight years, you kind of expected the Eagles to express that, \"Wow, we finally made it. We\'re finally going to get to go to the Super Bowl\" feeling.
Instead they all talked of having one more game left. The Eagles seem to be in the right frame of mind. And take it from someone who has been on the winning side of three Super Bowls, that mindset is a big thing, especially for a team like Philly that has been close and hasn\'t been able to get over that last hump.
Brian Westbrook is one of a kind
I don\'t think there is another running back like him in the NFL and I also don\'t think he gets enough credit when he runs the ball, either. People tend to focus more on him as a receiver and what he can do from a formation standpoint, but he\'s a pretty tough runner. He doesn\'t go down very easily.
Brian Westbrook will be tough for the Patriots to handle. (Miles Kennedy / AP)
The Patriots can\'t afford to cover him with safety Rodney Harrison or linebacker Tedy Bruschi. At times the Patriots will have to bracket him ... but then what do they do? Can New England bracket Westbrook, then spy McNabb at the same time? Or if they lose one guy, will they single-up Westbrook and spy McNabb, and bracket Westbrook at times and lose the spy?
Those two guys pose a big problem for a defense, even without Owens in the mix at wide receiver. Bill Belichick can take a wide receiver out of a game , but Westbrook is a much bigger challenge.
Philly\'s pressure defense can get to Tom Brady
I expect Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson to be very selective and know when the best opportunities are to blitz Brady. The big thing is, does he get a big, free hit on Brady? When playing against the Eagles, if you give up that free shot in the first couple series, where a guy comes unblocked and just nails your QB ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬
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