Tom Sorensen

Super Bowl matches Patriots’ evil genius with Falcons’ speed, and I dislike evil genius

Super Bowl media day, or “Opening Night,” as it’s called now, is a clown show for the teams and the media, we won’t LI.
Super Bowl media day, or “Opening Night,” as it’s called now, is a clown show for the teams and the media, we won’t LI. AP

Everybody should go to one Super Bowl media day (or night) session. Nobody should have to go to two.

Media day is where journalism and performance art meet. Performance art wins. Also, it runs up the score. In a quest for attention, former players shout questions. TV stations from far away send models that dress like, well, models. Purposely bizarre questions are asked. To the credit of the interrogators, nobody asks about a key play because neither team has played for more than a week.

With so many real issues going on in our country, however, performance art questions this season were flatter than usual.

I covered 10 Super Bowls, and if I ran the NFL I would forever shuffle it among cities that offer the ability to handle it as well as the possibility of abundant sunshine. Those cities are San Diego, New Orleans and Miami.

Unfortunately, the Super Bowl is a political football. Build a new stadium and you jump to the front of the line.

When the questions and the parties end, football begins. Most seasons I neither like nor dislike the Atlanta Falcons, underdogs in Super Bowl LI. But, this season, at least, I admire the way they play. They deal in speed. They are as entertaining as the Carolina Panthers were (pre Super Bowl) a season ago.

New England coach Bill Belichick is, as you know, the best coach at any level of football. He also is an evil genius. I’m not a proponent of evil geniuses. I like regular geniuses.

The theory is that if you give Belichick a week to focus on and figure out an opponent, he will take away what the opponent does best. Can the Patriots stop Atlanta’s best player, receiver Julio Jones, from being a factor? Even without Josh Norman, the Washington cornerback who formerly played so well against Jones for the Carolina Panthers, New England can at least mitigate Jones’ effectiveness.

But what will the cost be? The Falcons are fast and deep and quarterback Matt Ryan is adept at getting the ball to the right player at the right time. They can win without a great performance by Jones.

They won’t win. I like Atlanta’s offense against New England’s defense. But I like New England’s offense against Atlanta’s defense more. New England quarterback Tom Brady gets outstanding protection, especially up the middle. When an outside player swoops in, Brady steps up in the pocket and, oh, look, an open receiver.

Six or fewer points determined the outcome of six of the past nine Super Bowls. I suspect we get another good one. I picked the Patriots before the playoffs began (daring, don’t you think?) and there’s no reason to change now: New England 33, Atlanta 27.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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