Polishuk picks Patriots
to pound Panthers
By Mark Polishuk
It’s time to break down the biggest day of the year for
sports fans, as the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots
are ready to roll in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady already has one Super Bowl title
to his name and is looking to make it 6-0 for the playoffs in
his young career. NE’s offense is all about ball control,
with an emphasis on running and short, accurate passes.
The Pats can move down field with little trouble, but only managed
one touchdown in six trips to the Colts’ red zone two weeks
ago, thus keeping the game much closer than it should have been.
While the Pats rely on Brady, Carolina’s offensive star
is running back Stephen Davis, who will be healthy after injuring
his quad three weeks ago. Davis and the sloppy but talented DeShaun
Foster form a powerful backfield and their job is to follow the
Carolina strategy of pounding the ball all game and then bust out
a big pass play out of nowhere. The problem is that the NE defense
is too smart and adaptable to fall for that trick, so unless Carolina
QB Jake Delhomme has a few tricks up his sleeve, the Cats will
be stopped in their tracks.
Hope you like smash-mouth football, since both teams rely on their
tough defenses to make up for their offensive shortcomings. NE
had the best total defense in football last season, with no weaknesses
aside from a possible leg injury to stalwart linebacker Tedy
Carolina also had a top 10 defense and has only allowed 36 points
in three playoff games. The key to victory in this Super Bowl will
be which D bends more, since it will be a mistake on defense (rather
than anything spectacular from either team’s pedestrian offense)
that may very well decide this game.
Both teams have excellent special teams units, as well as excellent
kickers. NE hasn’t allowed a field goal so far in the post
season, and thus, might be able to nullify Carolina kicker John
Kasay. NE kicker Adam Vinatieri, who kicked the Super Bowl-winning
field goal two years ago, is one of the NFL’s best, but
if he has to kick five times from under 35 yards (like he did
two weeks ago against the Colts), it means the Pats are blowing
chances to put the opposing team away.
Bill Belichick is a step away from having a statue erected in his
honour in Foxboro. There is hardly a better coach in the league,
able to prepare his players extensively for any possible scenario.
Carolina coach John Fox is basically Belichick Jr. in this respect,
but we’ll give NE the edge simply because Belichick is
accustomed to Super Bowl pressure.
Carolina will keep it close as usual, but the Pats will take their
second Super Bowl in three years by a score of 16-10.