King Kaufman's Sports Daily

The Patriots will beat the Eagles, Terrell Owens won't be a big factor, no wardrobes will malfunction and XIV other predictions about Super Bowl 39.

By Salon Staff

Published February 4, 2005 8:00PM (EST)

The Patriots are going to win. That's prediction No. 1, and you know about it already. I'm a member of the American Not Picking Against the Patriots Until Somebody Beats Them in the Playoffs Society (ANPAPUSBTPS, pronounced "ANpap-us-BUTTipus").

New England goes for its third Super Bowl title in four years Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. The game is scheduled to kick off in Jacksonville at 6:18 and 23.4 seconds EST. The other piece of information the various media figures assembled in Jacksonville want you to know is that they think Jacksonville is a crummy town.

Here are XVI other predictions about Super Bowl 39, all of them pretty much guaranteed to be wrong. As always, I beg you not to use my prognostications as a basis for wagering. Especially the first one.

  • The Eagles will cover the spread. I mean, I don't know if they'll lose by less than a touchdown, but I wanted to be more specific than saying the Eagles are going to give the Pats a hell of a game.

    We've discussed the way Philly is being written off, given no chance to win -- kind of like how the Pats were written off three years ago before they beat the Rams. The Eagles are clear underdogs but, folks, this is a really good team.

    Don't discount them just because they played in the weak NFC. Counting the playoffs, the Eagles have gone 15-1 in games they tried to win. They gave away two games at the end of the regular season after they'd clinched the top seed in the postseason. I don't care what conference you're playing in, 15-1 is tough.

    And more than the Pats' first two playoff opponents, the offense-minded Colts and the 16-1 defensive powerhouse Steelers, the Eagles have the kind of balanced attack the Patriots have been so successful with. The Eagles were eighth in the league in scoring and tied for second in scoring defense. But that's counting those last two mailed-in games. If they'd played in those two the way they played in the first 14, they'd have finished fifth in offense and first in defense.

  • You will eat way too many chips.
  • Terrell Owens will catch a few passes but will not be a major factor. The big story of Super Bowl week has been "Will T.O. play, and if so how big a factor will he be?" It became apparent around Tuesday that he'll play, but it's hard to picture him doing much damage if the Pats jam him at the line of scrimmage, as expected.

    Owens' injured ankle won't let him burst off the line and escape into his pattern, and the Eagles will have to be content with putting him in motion and otherwise trying to hide him, then hitting him on shorter routes and hoping he can make a play.

  • Which is not to say that Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb won't do some damage in the passing game. The Eagles have been fine in two playoff games without Owens, against one mediocre team, the Vikings, and another, the Falcons, that had a solid defense.

    The Patriots are better than solid defensively, but they can be hurt downfield because of their injury-riddled, patchwork secondary. That's the theory anyway. Nobody's really been able to do it. It's easier said than done to throw downfield against the Patriots because they throw so many different looks at a quarterback that even the best of them start to look confused and ordinary.

    But McNabb, who can buy time with his legs and still make great throws, is a good candidate to get it done. The downside is that, other than Owens, his receivers are ordinary, to put it kindly. Freddie Mitchell had a nice game against the Falcons and anointed himself a personality in the Owens mold, but he's nothing special. And Philly will miss tight end Chad Lewis, injured in the Atlanta game.

    But I think Mitchell and the even more ordinary Todd Pinkston will step up and make some catches while multi-threat running back Brian Westbrook will carry the bulk of the offensive load, mostly as a receiver. And there's always the chance, when throwing downfield, that the yellow flags will fly. It won't be enough, but Philadelphia will have some success through the air.

  • The Eagles' attitude will be talked about a lot in the aftermath of the game. The Philly players have been relaxed, upbeat and happy all week. If the Eagles win, their "loose" demeanor will get a lot of credit. If they lose, it'll be said they were doomed from the start because they were clearly "just happy to be there."

  • Sideline reporters Pam Oliver and/or Chris Myers will talk about deaths in the families of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and defensive end Richard Seymour. Brady's grandmother, with whom he was close, died Wednesday, and Seymour's father, with whom he was close, committed suicide last year after killing a woman who was reportedly his girlfriend.

    The focus of these tales will be the way that the two, particularly Seymour, have handled their losses with admirable grace, and also how the Patriots as a team have rallied around their grieving comrades. A story that fits so well into the established template -- Patriots as a team-first bunch -- cannot be resisted. The implication, of course, is that the bums on all those other teams wouldn't rally around their teammates.

  • Another sideline report: The rehabilitation of running back Corey Dillon. He was a malcontent and a locker-room cancer in Cincinnati, but somehow, he got his act together in New England. That Patriots magic really works.

    Listen, the next time you think you've gotten to know someone through the media, think of Corey Dillon. I don't know if the real Corey Dillon is the nasty character who played for the Bengals or the all-American lad who toils for the Pats or, as I suspect, something in between.

    But maybe, just maybe, the problem wasn't Dillon all those years in Cincy. Maybe it was the Bengals, one of the poorest performing and flat-out dumbest franchises in football history during his time with them. Maybe the media that acted as a filter between Dillon and you for seven years merely reported Dillon's unpleasant behavior without getting across the nuanced idea that the guy had a point, that he was just reacting -- badly, no doubt -- to things that would drive most rational employees around the bend.

    I've been labeled a malcontent myself, and you know what? I didn't always handle it as well as I should have, but I've worked for some damn fools. The site you are now reading was founded and staffed in the beginning by a bunch of malcontents from a newspaper who, upon leaving, suddenly became solid citizens and team players.

  • Brady will be the game's most valuable player, Dillon will have the most spectacular stats, and someone who makes two big plays for the Patriots defense will win the MVP award. This counts as one prediction, but if I hit this trifecta, I want some serious love.

  • Kevin Faulk, Dillon's backup will catch at least two passes over the middle that will result in gains of 15 yards or more. How's that for a random prediction?

  • Eagles pass rusher Jevon Kearse will not get a sack.

  • The Eagles will sack Brady at least three times, but he'll more than offset that by burning Philly blitzes with good reads and quick passes.

  • There will be one commercial that almost everybody else thinks is funny that you will not think is all that funny.

  • The Eagles will turn the ball over before the Patriots do.

  • Paul McCartney will play that hideous song "Freedom" during the halftime show. He will also refrain from making a joke about a "wardrobe malfunction."

  • After the Patriots win, there will be ridiculously earnest discussions about whether their run of three Super Bowl titles in four years constitutes a "dynasty," as though the answer to that question means anything at all to anyone, anywhere, who isn't looking to fill up airtime or column inches.

  • One more attempt at a trifecta: The game will not be decided on a last-second field goal, but it will still be in doubt in the final minute, and it will be considered one of the most exciting Super Bowls in history.

    Previous column: Sports and memory

    - - - - - - - - - - - -

  • Bookmark to get the new Kaufman column every day.
  • Discuss this column and the sports news of the day in Table Talk.
  • Send an e-mail to King Kaufman.
  • To receive the Sports Daily Newsletter, send an e-mail to

  • Salon Staff

    MORE FROM Salon Staff

    Related Topics ------------------------------------------