Sports Today: Super Bowl edition

  • Marcus Hartman
10:06 a.m. Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 Sports
FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 06: Malcolm Jenkins #27 of the Philadelphia Eagles intercepts a pass intended for Danny Amendola #80 of the New England Patriots and returns it for a touchdown during the third quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

So, who’s gonna win the Super Bowl? 

I am going with the Eagles over the Patriots. 

Is that to go against the grain? 

Maybe a little bit, but this feels like it is leading up to a classic upset in the making. 

Obviously, New England has the best coach in NFL history and the ultimate trump card in Tom Brady. 

They proved again last season they can overcome almost anything. They aren’t infallible, either, as two Super Bowl losses to inferior Giants teams prove. 

We’ve also seen Brady — whose pick-six in last year’s Super Bowl likely would have gone down as one of the key reasons New England lost if Atlanta hadn’t mismanaged the lead in the second half — get knocked around at times in big games during his career. As recently as last week, Jacksonville gave the future hall of famer and his offense troubles for most of a game. The Jaguars just didn’t have enough offense to make it count. 

RELATED: Local connections to this year’s Super Bowl

Meanwhile, Philadelphia is universally regarded as a very strong all-around team and has the underdog angle working for it. Time and again we’ve seen that motivation factor play a role in surprising results. 

Maybe Nick Foles won’t be as hot as he was when we last saw him (against the Vikings), but he shouldn’t have to be. 

RELATED: Comparing Andy Dalton and Nick Foles 

The Eagles have the defense to get after Brady, and the offense to shorten the game. 

Philadelphia also has one of the most versatile defenders in the NFL in Malcolm Jenkins, who can play tackle and cover as a linebacker or safety. 

Doug Pederson’s Eagles offense is also wonderfully diverse, so Belichick’s usual advantage in game-planning could be neutralized or at least less significant. 

Add it all up? 

I’m saying Eagles 24, Patriots 21 with Jenkins as your MVP. 

From a local standpoint, that would make Alter product Joe Thuney and Trotwood-Madison graduate Nicholas Grigsby, both of whom play for New England... 

Speaking of Ohio State, it’s never to early to wonder what the Buckeyes offense might look like next season. 

I had a little fun with Land of 10’s Austin Ward when he posed such a question on Twitter. 

Lo and behold, Austin gave a thoughtful answer

He might be more optimistic than I am, but this is a good summation of the situation. 

While everyone knows  the full house (Woody’s favorite formation even after he was convinced to install the I in 1968) is the answer to everything when it comes to football, I don’t think we’re going to see too many three-back sets from Ohio State any time soon. 

My guess is we will see a further commitment to zone schemes and tempo with Ryan Day continuing to make the passing game more varied rather than mixing in more run schemes, but we’ll see... 

Wright State absorbed a terrible loss last night at Cleveland State. 

The Vikings entered the game in last place and knocked the Raiders into a tie for first with a 77-74 upset

Scott Nagy’s team played from behind most of the night, trailing by as many as 15 points. 

The Raiders led briefly in the second half before ceding control of the game back to the Vikings, who dodged a potential game-tying 3-point attempt at the buzzer. 

Was this another learning experience for a WSU squad that wasn’t expected to be where it is? 

Well, hopefully, but Nagy noted the same thing happened when the Raiders lost to Milwaukee less than two weeks ago. 

“Trying to be a champion is hard,” Nagy said. ” It’s every day, every moment. Because as soon as you let down, just like we did, this is what happens.”… 

The bad news: Wright State fell into a tie with Northern Kentucky atop the Horizon League standings. 

The good news: The Raiders still get another chance to beat the Norse (again) two weeks from tonight. 

And anyway: No bad loss in the regular season is going to cost them an NCAA tournament bid because they are going to have to win the league tournament to get an invite to the Big Dance anyway. However, a 13 or 14 seed looks a lot better than a 15 or 16, so resume does matter to some extent… 

We got a chance to talk to Dayton coach Anthony Grant and a pair of Flyers yesterday as they prepare to take on Massachusetts this weekend, but it wasn’t real enlightening. 

Interesting, yes, but we didn’t learn much about why this team can’t figure out how to get out of its season-long funk. 

The answer continues to be, well, play better. Or at least play better more often and for longer. 

Dayton has played a tough schedule, but some of the Flyers’ losses are to fairly bad opponents. 

Case in point: UMass, which won at UD Arena earlier this season despite missing some key players. 

Dayton still has a chance to go on a run (that’s technically true until they lose in March), but more important in these last nine games of the regular season is finding some things to build on for next year. 

Can they?