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Do Injuries Overshadow the Superbowl Matchup?

Xavier Aguiar, Contributor

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Does this Super Bowl deserve an asterisk? The Patriots proved everyone wrong AGAIN, but to what degree?

On September 29, 2017, I published an article suggesting the Patriots may not be of the same caliber of Patriot teams we have seen in recent years. Then a mere three days later, I also published an article entitled “The End of An Era.” The Patriots were playing at a level of low never seen before from a Tom Brady team. The offense looked lethargic and sluggish at points and the defense was starting at a historically bad pace. Then by week eight, coming off a 23-7 smashing of the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons, New England showed that once again it took them a little longer to get the wheels into motion.

Now in January, there is another Lamar Hunt trophy in Patriots Way, and the Patriots look to add to their incredible run with one more win against Fletcher Cox and the Eagles stout defense in Super Bowl 52. Through all the controversy of Belichick leaving and there being heavy tension amongst the Patriots brass, New England showed once again no way is better than “The Patriot Way”. However, even with their success, the Patriots have been over major scrutiny on how they made the big game. “Questionable” officiating has been over major scrutiny but that happens every year in every sport. The major issue this time around for the Pats is the actual competition in which they faced.

This year, the NFL has lacked a major star power. The athletes that got hurt could make a pro bowl team, the list includes: MVP frontrunner Carson Wentz, Reigning Comeback Player of the Year Eric Berry, All-Pro David Johnson, All-Pro Odell Beckham Jr., Future HOF Aaron Rodgers, Jaguars number one option Allen Robinson, etc. The list also includes Rookie of the Year candidates Deshaun Watson and Dalvin Cook. Even the streak for most consecutive snaps played was snapped, as Iron Man Left Tackle Joe Thomas fell to a season ending tricep injury.

Patriots haters say with some of these key pieces, the AFC could’ve played out much differently. However, would it really have? Joe Thomas is just a tackle and the Browns were going 0-16 with him anyway, Deshaun Watson was just a rookie and already lost to New England this season, and Eric Berry probably could not have stopped the Chiefs downspin spiral toward the end of the season.

The NFC is a little different however. Aaron Rodgers is the single most important player to his team in football, and his lack of presence showed as the Packers went 2-6 without him. The Giants at one point had there top three WRs out and had to rely on 3 TE sets for some points in the season, which helped translate to their abysmal offensive outputs. Even then, these injuries probably would not have changed the end result.

Most shockingly is how the Eagles have managed to make the Super Bowl with such a banged up roster. The Eagles had arguably their three top players fall to the injury bug as Carson Wentz, Jordan Hicks and Jason Peters all went down. Even their place kicker Caleb Sturgis went down in preseason with an injury. To make a Superbowl with a backup QB, a makeshift offensive line and their best defensive player is a testament to great coaching and how good they are.

Does this Super Bowl need an asterisk? No, of course not. Players get hurt every year; it is as much of a part of the game as scoring a touchdown. Whoever wins, both teams deserve major respect. The Patriots for proving every doubter (me included) wrong, and the Eagles managing to make a Super Bowl despite not having any of their stars.

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Do Injuries Overshadow the Superbowl Matchup?