Bet against Patriots … if you dare | RecordCourier.com

Bet against Patriots … if you dare

Joe Santoro

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

You can't spell Nevada without a D but the Nevada Wolf Pack proved Wednesday night at Lawlor Events Center you can certainly win a Mountain West men's basketball game without one. The Wolf Pack watched the Fresno State Bulldogs stroll to the basket for 40 points in the paint (mostly layups) and allowed the Bulldogs to shoot 58 percent from the floor overall. Yes, the Pack still won comfortably, 102-92. And that kind of defense is fine for the Mountain West. But it will get you a first-round exit from the NCAA tournament. The Pack has now allowed 92 or more points in consecutive games (Nevada lost 104-103 at Wyoming last week) for the first time since February 1994. The Pack played like a team scared to death of fouling (a problem at Wyoming) against Fresno State.

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The Wolf Pack defense used to be able to control the opposing team's top scorer. That hasn't happened lately. The opposing team's top scorer hasn't had a problem lighting up the scoreboard in the Wolf Pack's last three games. Boise State's Chandler Hutchison scored 27 against the Pack on Jan. 20, Wyoming's Justin James scored 33 against Nevada on Jan. 24 and Fresno's Deshon Taylor had 30 on Wednesday. James and Taylor are the first Pack opponents to score 30 or more points in consecutive games since Eric Musselman took over the program before the 2015-16 season. Hutchison, James and Taylor combined to average 30.7 points while shooting 32-of-52 (62 percent) from the floor. That, too, isn't a formula for NCAA tournament success.

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This just might be the worst team the New England Patriots have taken to the Super Bowl in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era. It also might be the last hurrah for the Brady-Belichick duo in the Super Bowl. The Pats' offense basically consists of Brady and Rob Gronkowski and about four miracles a game. The defense doesn't scare anybody. Brady is 40 years old. He doesn't have a great wide receiver or running back at his disposal. Gronkowski is always a play away from being taken to the locker room with some sort of injury. But, go ahead, bet against the Patriots in the Super Bowl. If you dare.

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If you're going to bet on this Super Bowl, you might as well take the three or four points and the Philadelphia Eagles. The first reason is because the Patriots don't blow anybody out in the Super Bowl, even when they win. All five of their victories have been by six points or less. The second reason is the Eagles can play a little defense. They're solid against the run and pass so Brady is going to have to use all of his weapons. The Pats can't expect to fall behind 28-3 in this Super Bowl and still win. The Eagles can win this game but they'll likely have to keep Brady and the Patriots to 24 points or less to do it.

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Nick Foles beating Brady would be the biggest upset in Super Bowl history as far as the quarterbacks are concerned. Yes, there's only about a three-point difference between the two teams in this Super Bowl but it's a three-touchdown difference at quarterback. This might be the biggest mismatch at the position of quarterback in Super Bowl history since Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts met Rex Grossman of the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl 41 or when Steve Young and the San Francisco 49ers went up against Stan Humphries of the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl 29. And, no, Grossman and Humphries didn't win.

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The last time the Eagles won a NFL championship was 1960. Their head coach was former Wolf Pack head coach Buck Shaw. Shaw was 10-20-3 from 1925-28 with the Wolf Pack. Current Eagles coach Doug Pederson never coached the Wolf Pack but he did play against the Pack in a 1990 Division I-AA playoff game for Louisiana Monroe. The Pack won 27-14 at Mackay Stadium. Pederson was also the offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs from 2013 when former Pack coach Chris Ault was a coaching consultant with the Chiefs. If you see the Eagles line up in the pistol formation on Sunday you can probably trace that back to Ault. None of this, however, will help Nick Foles beat Tom Brady.

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The NFL will announce its latest Hall of Fame class on Saturday. There are five players — Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher, Terrell Owens and Tony Boselli — that are absolutely, without question, Hall of Fame worthy. But Hall of Fame voting is one of the greatest mysteries of our lifetime. Owens and Moss might not get voted in because of their off-the-field issues. Urlacher and Boselli never won Super Bowls. Lewis also had off-the-field issues but he has done a masterful job of fixing his public image. All, though, will eventually get voted in. It just might not happen on Saturday.

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One player who clearly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame but will likely never get in is former 49ers running back Roger Craig. All Craig did in his career was change the position of running back forever. He was the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and gain 1,000 yards receiving in the same season (1985). Only one other player has ever done that in NFL history (Marshall Faulk in 1999) and he's in the Hall of Fame. Craig, the first back to get 100 or more receiving yards in a Super Bowl game, rushed for 8,189 yards in his career and caught 566 passes for 4,911 more yards. He scored 56 touchdowns running and 17 receiving. He has more rushing yards than Hall of Fame backs Larry Csonka (8,081), Terrell Davis (7,607), Leroy Kelly (7,274) and Floyd Little (6,323) and more catches than Hall of Fame receivers Lance Alworth (542), Kellen Winslow (541), John Stallworth (537), Paul Warfield (427) and Mike Ditka (427).