Two teams will play in Super Bowl XLIV, Feb. 7, 2010, at Dolphin Stadium in Miami. They are teams with very potent offenses: potent enough to see them through their respective conference playoff brackets. Alas, my brothers, neither of them is the New Orleans Saints. Super Bowl XLIV will instead feature a rematch between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Diego Chargers.
These two teams met in Week 10 of the current NFL season (Nov. 15), with San Diego at home beating the Eagles 31-23. The outcome will be reversed this time. Let us take a deeper look.
The teams’ passing offenses are pretty much a push. As an individual player, Philip Rivers might even have an edge on Donovan McNabb this season, and trying to differentiate between the two receiving corps (SD: Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd, Legedu Naanee, and Darren “Yes I Know He Lines Up at RB, but more on that later” Sproles; PHI: Brent Celek, DeSean “Big Play” Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Jason Avant) is a pointless effort. San Diego has also been converting their 3rd down opportunities at 44.25%
So where does the Eagles’ edge lie? Call it balance, diversity, flexibility…whatever you like: they can simply do more things effectively with the football. Like run it. I understand LaDanian Tomlinson is no longer the LT of old (it happens to almost of us), but he and Sproles simply cannot be compared in 2009 to the Eagles’ LeSean McCoy and Leonard Weaver. Factor in the expected return of Brian Westbrook and things look even bleaker.
Then there’s QB. Yes, I already gave a slight edge to Rivers, but both teams have to get to the Super Bowl before they can play it and if Kevin Kolb (GO COOGS!) has to spell McNabb at some point along the way, he’s already shown he’s up to the task. Billy Volek? Not so much.
The last factor on the offensive side of the ball, as unlikely as it might have seemed even 4 months ago, is Michael Vick. Andy Reid and Co. have found increasingly effective ways of incorporating him into the offense, and it would be unwise to suspect they won’t continue to do so in the weeks ahead. San Diego has no-one playing a similar role.
Finally, there’re the defenses. Philadelphia enters the final week of the season with a +15 turnover ratio, led by ball-hawking corners Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown, tackle machine SS Quintin Mikell, and 6′ 3″, 270 lb 5th-year defensive end Trent Cole. Yes, the Chargers’ Shawn Phillips is having a spectacular year, but Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie, good as they are, get nosed out by the Eagles’ duo at CB, and they don’t have anyone who can wreak the havoc up front created by Cole.
So, Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid finally get their rings. Look at their careers. They will have earned them.