Necessary Roughness: Championship Weekend
It’s official — we’re living in the darkest timeline. Heroes don’t exist. Justice is an illusion. The only thing we can depend on is the cold, silent, uncaring void in which the New England Patriots thrive. In two weeks we will witness the perfect Trump-era Super Bowl, in which one of the two most insufferable fanbases in all of sports will emerge victorious and the other will whine about it for all of eternity.
Vikings @ Eagles: What. The. Fuck. Was. This. The lead up to the game featured the very dumb-seeming but ultimately predictive fact that until yesterday exactly zero teams that call a dome home had ever won an outdoor championship game. And so it remains. The Vikings defense was cut to ribbons by an incredibly sharp Nick Foles. The man could do no wrong in this game and it will make his eventual dismantling next week all the more upsetting for Philly fans.
352 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a 141.4 passer rating.@NFoles_9's Top 5 Throws from the NFC Championship! #FlyEaglesFly #NFLPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/zFnTRQn81I
— NFL (@NFL) January 22, 2018
To be perfectly honest, I don’t believe Nick Foles was ever a bad quarterback. He was traded from the Eagles for Sam Bradford (one of many victims of the Jeff Fischer treatment) following half a season spent on the IR, not some epic implosion following the 27/2 God Mode season. It was also following the insane LeSean McCoy trade. Chip Kelly really did a number on the Eagles in the offseason before his firing. After his complete and utter dismantling of the Vikes, maybe Foles and the Eagles actually have a better shot at the Pats than the Vikings would have.
Jaguars @ Patriots: Look, I really wanted to watch the Eagles lose at home to the Vikings. That would have been great. But you know what would have been even better? Watching the Pats lose at home to the FUCKING JAGUARS. For about three quarters, it seemed like a distinct possibility. Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette kept the Patriots defense on their heels for the entire first half. And they made it look pretty easy, almost like they could keep it up for another 25-30 minutes! Then the Pats did what they always do: punch you in the face to end the half and then come back with the knockout blows in the 3rd and 4th quarters. I do think that PI call late in the 2nd was horseshit, but the Jags were playing well enough that a single penalty shouldn’t have been the difference. This could very well have been the difference in the game though. Why was it called dead and why aren’t more people up in arms about it?
WHAT. A. PLAY! ????@MylesJack forces the fumble AND recovers it! WOW!#JAXvsNE | #DTWD | #NFLPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/29Wi3Ratfa
— NFL Canada (@NFLCanada) January 21, 2018
As much as the Patriots made great second half adjustments, it seemed as if the Jaguars’ offensive calls got too conservative and scared. They were completely unable to generate momentum and it wasn’t Blake Bortles’ fault. He got the team this far and had a stellar first half, why turtle up? This effect only multiplied once the Patriots finally took the lead. Playing from behind, the Jags HAD to rely on Bortles and found themselves forcing plays they should never have needed. Not a whole lot you can do about this catch though:
Brady to Amendola AGAIN ????????
WHAT A CATCH!
24-20, #Patriots take the lead! #JAXvsNE
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) January 21, 2018
The Super Bowl is now a game between my two least favorite teams in the NFL. When I told my girlfriend this, she was all too quick to assume we wouldn’t be going out to watch it. Au contraire mon ami! I’m going twice as hard, because I’m a glass-half-full kinda guy. If I can’t root FOR someone, I’m just as happy to root AGAINST someone else. I am the sorest loser, I know. I also know that my constant doubting and naysaying of the Eagles is what led to this result. The only thing worse than a sore loser, though, is a sore winner.
Eagles fans pelting a Vikings bus with bottles, cans, whatever they can find to throw (la410rod_official/IG) pic.twitter.com/CmOWV5iZA2
— Busted Coverage (@bustedcoverage) January 22, 2018
With all this in mind, I will actively root against the Eagles. I will do this despite the fact that their mascot tried to relieve our president of one of his fingers in the gif above and that in doing so I almost guarantee them their first ever Super Bowl victory. Because the Eagles are hated division rivals who have never won a Super Bowl, I am hitching my wagon to the Death Star and hope to know the power of the Dark Side for a night.
In all seriousness, after their performance last night the Eagles were obviously the better team in every facet of the game. Their running was stronger, their passing was better, their defense was more dominant than the Vikings’. If anyone can give the Patriots a hard time, clearly it’s the Eagles. Philly will need to get Jay Ajayi going, and plan an attack similar to the one the Jaguars brought in the first half yesterday. The biggest difference is that the Eagles shouldn’t be scared and Foles can and will air it out whenever possible. The signature of the Patriots for the last two decades has been to force you to play without your biggest threat. Philly might have too many to just shut down one at a time. If you try to stop Ajayi, they’ll go to Jeffery and Agholor, if you try to stop them, they’ll run it down your throat. Despite the teams playing, I’m excited for this match up!