Is it wrong to admit that I believe Super Bowl LII was the most entertaining in my lifetime? Off the top of my head it was one of the most compelling games from start-to-finish that I can remember. Here are three leftover (and probably somewhat crazy) thoughts from the day after the game:
1. Doug Pederson coached circles around Bill Belichick.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Philadelphia deserved to win this game. On offense, the Eagles’ play-calling was superior from beginning to end. I figured that Belichick, a defensive genius and the best-NFL coach I might ever see in my lifetime, would find a way to slow down Nick Foles, especially with two weeks of prep time. Didn’t happen. In fact Foles arguably played just as well as he did against the Vikings two weeks ago in the NFC Championship Game. I’m a firm believer that defense wins championships – however in this case, coaching and game-planning were significant factors in Philadelphia’s first ever Super Bowl championship. Pederson, in only two seasons as an NFL head coach, now belongs among the current NFL coaching greats.
2. Malcolm Butler made himself a ton of money…by NOT playing cornerback in the Super Bowl for the Patriots.
This was the most mind-boggling aspect of the game…how was New England’s 2nd best CB not in the lineup for the Patriots’ biggest game of the season? And once it was determined that Butler’s replacement, Eric Rowe, couldn’t guard any Philly receiver competently, why wasn’t Butler re-inserted into his usual on-field role? There’s no doubt in my opinion that the Super Bowl XLIX hero would’ve made a difference. Being that he’s an unrestricted free agent, there’s a 100% chance Butler will be playing elsewhere in 2018. Considering how the Patriots performed so poorly in the secondary with him off the field, I’d expect other teams to realize this and pay him #1 CB money. I hope my Green Bay Packers are paying attention and make a run at Butler.
3. Nick Foles, the pride of UofA and forever a legend in Philadelphia. Now what for his career?
In Foles, Arizona now has a #SuperBowl winning starting QB before Florida, Nebraska, Arizona State, Auburn, Oklahoma State and Oregon, too.
— Pete Fiutak (@PeteFiutak) February 5, 2018
The tweets above from CollegeFootballNews.com’s Pete Fiutak are as stunning as they are truthful. The University of Arizona has placed ONE QB in the NFL in my lifetime…and he’s now a Super Bowl champion and game MVP! Foles will never have to buy a drink in the city of Philadelphia ever again and I have a feeling in 9 months’ time, a lot of little Nicholas’ will be born to married Eagles’ fan couples. But what’s next for his playing career? I’ve heard from a trusted source that Foles is quite comfortable in a backup role to Carson Wentz in Philly but will the Eagles turn down the potential substantial compensation they may be offered from teams in need at the QB position?
— Dave Mason (@DaveMasonBOL) February 5, 2018
I’d feel fairly comfortable in saying that considering Wentz’s late-season ACL injury, Philadelphia realizes that having the QB insurance to start the 2018 season makes a ton of sense. Give me the Eagles as Foles’ team on Opening Night in September. Assuming he has an uneventful season, I expect him to then cash in on a $20+ million per year contract in the 2018-19 offseason.
The NFL’s offseason hasn’t even begun yet and we’ve already seen the stunning Alex Smith trade from Kansas City to Washington. Therefore it’s safe to conclude that the next three months in NFL transactions will be plenty more eventful than baseball’s surprisingly quiet Hot Stove period.
With that said, here’s an EARLY…and I mean E-A-R-L-Y list of playoff teams in 2018-19 as I see them:
-East: New England
Still the best team in the AFC East by miles and I don’t see Buffalo repeating their playoff run of 2017-18. Miami could be in the hunt but the Jets won’t pose a problem to Bill Belichick’s dynasty next season. That being said, I also predict that the Patriots won’t return to a third straight Super Bowl.
In what very well could be Ben Roethlisberger’s final season, the Steelers emerge with the AFC’s best record. Baltimore is above-average and Cleveland is much improved while Cincinnati continues to sink into oblivion.
-South: Tennessee, Houston
I expect this to be a very competitive division but I’m going with new coach Mike Vrabel’s Titans to win the division over his old team, the Houston Texans. Assuming QB Deshaun Watson returns to full health, the Texans are a darkhorse to contend for a conference championship. I expect Jacksonville to regress into the 8-8 range despite an elite defense while Indianapolis, with or without Andrew Luck, still has a ways to go.
-West: Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland
The Chargers nearly made the playoffs this season despite starting 0-4 while Oakland is primed for a 2016-like run with Jon Gruden back in his old stomping grounds. Kansas City will take a step back despite promising young QB Pat Mahomes while Denver will improve and contend assuming they find a franchise QB. Very likely could be the league’s most competitive division.
-East: Philadelphia, Dallas
The Eagles might experience a Super Bowl hangover of sorts but they’re also set up for long-term success. I expect the Cowboys to once again be playoff-caliber while the Giants and Redskins have a long way to go.
-North: Green Bay, Minnesota
I might be a bit biased but I expect the Packers to make a flurry of moves to give Aaron Rodgers another serious shot at winning a 2nd Super Bowl. If they underachieve, coach Mike McCarthy will be on the unemployment line next January. If the Vikings sign Kirk Cousins, watch out…they’ll be dangerous. Detroit and Chicago will have growing pains under new head coaches.
-South: New Orleans
The Falcons and Panthers are trending downward in my opinion while New Orleans was one awful defensive mistake from the NFC Championship Game. I expect Drew Brees to have one last hurrah before retirement. Tampa Bay once again underachieves and fires coach Dirk Koetter during the season.
-West: San Francisco
I’m jumping on the Jimmy Garoppolo bandwagon for now while at the same time fading the Rams, who greatly overachieved in 2017 under new coach Sean McVay. Seattle is heading in the wrong direction and Arizona is in the midst of a rebuild.