NFL: What we learned in the Super Bowl

Published 4:20 pm Thursday, February 9, 2012

In watching some of the post-Super Bowl coverage I’m appalled for what passes as NFL analysis these days.

It’s like the ‘analysts’ are trying to see who you can yell their point the loudest in order to make their case.

Lately, they’ve been trying to somehow use the past Super Bowl to decide where it puts Tom Brady and Bill Belichick from a legacy standpoint. I’ve even heard talk that Eli Manning is now better than Peyton Manning and some have even went as far to say he’s better than Brady.

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I know shock jocks are getting more and more popular, but it might be time for a reality check as to what we learned in this past Super Bowl.

1. Brady and Belichick still have it.

Tom Brady has started in the NFL for 11 years and he has played in the Super Bowl in five of those seasons. Let that sink in for a while.

Brady has also thrown 300 touchdowns to just 115 interceptions in that span and his QB rating has never been below 85 in his career, where he has a total rating of 96.4. Eli, by comparison, has a career rating of 82.1 and has never gotten to 100 in a season.

In an age of parity where the Super Bowl loser almost never makes it to the playoffs the following season and only two teams have repeated (the Pats and Cowboys) in the past 20 years, the Pats’ success under Brady and Belichick is a big deal.

It’s even more amazing to think that the Pats are a David Tyree helmet catch and a Wes Welker drop from having five titles.

No matter how the media wants to down the Pats, they are one of two teams (the other being the Steelers) that has consistently been a threat to go deep almost every postseason for the past decade.

2. There’s a new formula for winning the Super Bowl.

I’ve called the Giants lucky on this blog before and it’s true. So were last year’s Packers and so were the Saints the year before that.

If the Vikings don’t put 12 men in the huddle and Brett Favre doesn’t throw a classic Favre-pick, the Saints don’t even make it to the Super Bowl.

If Mike Vick doesn’t try to throw a jump ball to Riley Cooper in the back of the end zone with plenty of time left or if Jay Cutler doesn’t get hurt, the Packers may have not made it to the Super Bowl. If DeSean Jackson didn’t run a punt back to beat the Giants, the Packers wouldn’t have even made it to the playoffs this season.

The Giants fumbled three times against New England and finished the game with zero turnovers.

The new formula for winning in the NFL is to play turnover-free ball and get a couple of lucky breaks. The teams really are that close.

3. Parity is good.

All week long I’ve heard ‘analysts’ say how the regular season is meaningless because a six-seed has won the playoffs two out of the past five years and it’s a wide open tournament.

But the thing is, the Giants and Packers don’t even make the playoffs if they didn’t come up with two big wins at the end of the regular season – so I guess it does mean quite a bit.

The parity the NFL now has gives a lot more teams a chance to win than in the past and that’s a good thing.

Playoff games are closer, and Super Bowls have been closer as well. I still remember when the Super Bowl used to mean an NFC team piling up 30 points in the first half against some helpless AFC squad.

4. Keep Eli in perspective.

I know Eli Manning plays in the most ridiculous market when it comes to sensationalism, but remember when 90 percent of the mass media was laughing at him when he agreed that he was an elite quarterback (whatever that means) in the preseason?

Now he gets hot in the playoffs and he’s better than his brother and destined for the Hall of Fame?

Maybe they just forgot that in eight seasons, Eli has 67 career fumbles and 129 interceptions. While Eli has played turnover-free football in the postseason, and that’s a credit to him, you need to do more than just have a couple of good stretches of games at the right time to be talked about as a surefire Hall-of-Famer.

After all, the Giants’ defense held the high-powered Packers to 20 points, while forcing four turnovers and the high-powered Patriots to 17 points, while forcing one turnover.

Perhaps, they deserve just a little bit of credit for the Giants’ run?

The point is, football is the ultimate team game and you can’t use team accomplishments to raise an individual players’ worth.

When Eli starts throwing for 5,000 yards with 45 TDs and 10 INT, we can talk hall of fame. Until then, he’s a clutch QB who plays on a great team.

5. I can’t wait until next year

The worst part of the Super Bowl is the six-month football drought that happens after it. The draft just doesn’t cut it for me anymore and minicamps are just a teaser.

It’ll be a long wait, but I’m confident the NFL will come back as good as it’s ever be