super bowl history or upset?

Posted on February 3, 2008


What kind of sports fan are you?

Are you the type who would rather see teams make history and break records?

Or would you prefer to see the underdog get its day and take a fancied team down?

Those fundamental questions will help you decide whether you would be happier seeing the New England Patriots or New York Giants lift the Lombardi Trophy in tonight’s 42nd Super Bowl.

Unless, of course, if you are from Boston or New York, which would make your loyalties much easier to place. It’s another chapter of the classic Boston versus New York storyline, much like the Red Sox versus the Yankees, except that Boston is no longer the city whose sports teams are roaming the wilderness.

For the rest of us whose home teams aren’t in tonight’s playoffs, it is a tougher choice, especially if football is more than just a matter of watching half-time entertainment and new ads, or downing beer, chips and chili with your friends.

On the one hand, it is hard to turn down the experience of witnessing sports history as it is being made. What a prospect it would be to watch when the Patriots cap their flawless 18-0 season with even more sports immortality – a 19-0 record, their fourth Super Bowl in seven years, and Tom Brady’s possible surpassing of the 18 NFL records set or tied in 2007 so far.

The only other team that completed a perfect season in NFL history was the Miami Dolphins in 1972, but back then, they played 17 games, to record a 17-0 season.

The Patriots have shown what a formidably disciplined machine they have been this season. Add to that their talent, depth and experience – 42 players who have had playoff experience and Bill Belichick’s fourth Super Bowl outing as head coach, versus the three players from the Giants who had Super Bowl time – it is hard to see them faltering at the final step.

In fact, you won’t find a team with a better ability to cope with the choking pressure of performing in a big game than the Patriots, even if they have to come from behind to win.

But could hubris, or karma, be the obstacle standing in the way of the Patriots’ perfect season?

The Patriots have reportedly applied for trademarks on “19-0” and “19-0 The Perfect Season” with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Does that mean the Patriots are due for a loss and will be prime for it, humiliatingly, on football’s biggest stage?

That depends on whether you would like to see one of the biggest upset in NFL history.

It would be wise not to count the Giants out yet.

Momentum does seem to be on their side. After a 0-2 start to the season, they have been on a roll, winning 10 consecutive games to clinch the NFC championship. And they almost did kick the Patriots’ asses in Week 17, losing by just a sliver, 38-35.

So while the general public might see them as just another team for the Patriots to steamroll on their way to football history, the Giants seem to relish in their underdog status.

That’s because they are hoping that the underestimation could do them some favors, such as motivating them to try harder, act as an urgent chip on their padded shoulders to prove detractors wrong and take the pressure off them on game night.

But to pull off the upset, the Giants are going to have to play their very best and make minimum mistakes. Besides neutralizing the twin powers of Brady and Randy Moss, the Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning must preserve his record of having thrown zero interceptions in three post season games.

With typical New York swagger, Giants receiver Plaxico Burress made a prediction – bravado or bold, your choice – that his team would win 23-17, echoing the audacious Joe Namath’s guarantee that his team New York Jets would beat the heavily-favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III 39 years ago.

The Jets won 16-7, shaking up the football world. Which makes Burress’ guess as good as anyone else’s.