By Jason Keidel
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For a few reasons, it feels like the Super Bowl pivots on playoff experience more than the World Series, Stanley Cup or NBA Finals.
One reason is the other sports have up to seven games to play for the world title. In the NFL, we have one game, four quarters, 60 minutes to settle the final score on the season. Add the epic pressure of the game, the 150 million Americans watching and the fact that it could be your lone chance to ever win a world championship.
Only eight Eagles on the team’s full roster — including those on injured reserve and the practice squad — have Super Bowl experience. The Patriots have 41 such players. Tom Brady has more Super Bowl MVP awards (four) than Nick Foles has playoff starts (three). Led by Brady’s seven prior Super Bowls, the Pats’ 41 players have played in a combined 73 Super Bowls.
So if experience matters — especially at quarterback — check the Brady Box.
If you’d like the quintessential, statistical canyon between the haves and have-nots, scroll through Pro-Football-Reference.com. Eagles QB Nick Foles has 9,752 passing yards and 61 touchdowns over his entire NFL career. Tom Brady has tossed for 9,721 yards and 68 touchdowns in the playoffs alone.
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The Pats opened as nearly a touchdown favorite, which seemed oddly wide considering what each team had done in the conference championship games. New England overcame a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit on Brady’s arm and playoff savvy while the Eagles vaporized the Minnesota Vikings, a fellow 13-3 club that many thought would be hosting the Super Bowl on Sunday.
The point spread is now around five points, which speaks to the chasm at quarterback. Indeed, you don’t hear anyone saying the Patriots have a better or deeper roster. The Eagles clearly have a better defense, perhaps more weapons on offense and been more impressive in the playoffs.
But the Patriots have Brady and coach Bill Belichick, and the Eagles…