What will happen in Minnesota
The waiting is finally over. Super Bowl Sunday has arrived and I’ll be right in the thick of it.
I won’t be inside U.S. Bank Stadium cheering, but I’ll be downtown for some of the festivities and sitting on the couch with my family in Minneapolis watching the Eagles (sigh) and the Patriots (louder sigh) battle for the Lombardi Trophy in my hometown.
Since the NFC Championship two weeks ago, I’ve recovered from the heartbreak of the Minnesota Vikings missing out on playing on their own turf and have moved into the acceptance stage of grief.
Now that the cycle is complete, I can tell you my predictions on what will happen to me and the game. I have a feeling it’ll be more entertaining than you might think.
Which will be the more obnoxious fan base? It’s hard to say, because as I’ve mentioned in my last column, they’re both pretty awful.
I’m leaning toward Philadelphia simply because Eagles fans haven’t shut up for the last two weeks since they beat the Vikings.
As terrible as Patriots fans are, I have a feeling they’ll be smugger and won’t acknowledge me, whereas I might have a beer bottle thrown at me by an Eagles fan just for wearing purple.
Will the pregame festivities be entertaining? From what I’m hearing, people seem to be having fun. There’s some cool football exhibits at the Minneapolis Convention Center, there is a zipline that you can ride across the Mississippi River that my friends have loved and there’s two decent concerts downtown at the Minneapolis Armory.
Fun fact — the NBA’s Lakers used to play there before they moved to Los Angeles.
My guess is that it won’t be a mind-blowing experience, but it should still be fun.
Will there be more Eagles fans or Patriots fans? This one is pretty easy. It’ll be Eagles fans. There will definitely be lots of New England fans, but Philadelphia has been waiting for another crack at a Super Bowl title for awhile and its fans travel in droves. I’ll say Eagles fans by 2 to 1.
Will the national anthem last less than three minutes and will there be a mistake? Pink is this year’s anthem singer and she’s pretty fast. I’m saying definitely less than three and no flubs.
Which team scores first and which player will do the scoring? It depends on the coin toss, of course, but I think New England scores first on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal. Brady has a decent first drive, but the Eagles pressure him on third down and force him to overthrow Rob Gronkowski.
Who scores the first touchdown? After Philly is forced to punt on its first drive, the Eagles defense forces a turnover and quarterback Nick Foles finds tight end Zach Ertz in the end zone.
What will be the score at halftime? Seeing how things went in the AFC Championship, I’m think Philly will hold a slim lead on the Patriots. I’ll say 13-10, so not much offense. That shouldn’t surprise you with the strength of the Eagles defense and the fact that Foles is the quarterback.
What will Justin Timberlake open and close his halftime show with? Will NSYNC make an appearance? He opens with “SexyBack” because, c’mon, he has to.
After the “wardrobe malfunction” with Janet Jackson a few years ago, he’s got to roll the dice a bit.
My head is saying he ends it with “Rock Your Body” but my theory is he ends it with “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” (Yep, the song from the “Trolls” movie.)
As far as a reunion with the boys, not going to happen. At least I hope not.
Will this game have an exciting ending? Last year’s Super Bowl involved an epic comeback and overtime. Three years ago, the Seattle Seahawks made a stupid play call against New England on the goal line and the Patriots won in the closing seconds.
Also during that span, Denver’s defense throttled Carolina and Seattle topped the Broncos in a blowout. Both of those duds came in even years and so is this year’s game, so this won’t be a classic Super Bowl.
What color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach? You’d think it’d be the color of the winning team, but that tends to not be the case. I’m going to go random and say orange. No reason. Just a hunch.
Finally, the big one. Who wins the game and gets MVP? This is a tough call. Logic is screaming New England simply based on the huge disparity between the quarterbacks. Brady is a legend and arguably the best quarterback of all time.
Meanwhile, Foles is Philly’s version of what the Vikings had with Case Keenum. A guy thrust into the starting role who did just enough to get them through the end of the season and playoffs.
Here’s the thing, though. Foles doesn’t need to outduel Brady. He’s just needs to avoid mistakes. A lot of the Patriots’ successes in the Super Bowl have come from getting breaks, so if Foles keeps his errors to a minimum, he should be OK.
The actual key to the game will be the Eagles defense. Brady’s two Super Bowl losses came partly due to some heroics from Eli Manning, but primarily the constant pressure by the New York Giants’ linemen.
If Philly can pressure Brady early and keep it up, I think they pull it out with a 23-17 win.
As far as the MVP goes, it’ll go to a defender. I think it’ll be defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. It’s his first Super Bowl and he knows that the pressure will be on him and the Eagles front four.
I think he delivers in a big way, like Denver’s Von Miller did two years ago, and sacks Brady on fourth down in the closing minutes to seal both the win and the first Super Bowl title for Philadelphia.
Like I said. The waiting is finally over.
Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.