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Throughout the week, Patriots fan JJ Feigenbaum (a student at Wesleyan) and Eagles rooter Ed Knizhnik (a student at Penn) will debate the issues leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Patriots and Eagles.

Why Pats will win

By Pats fan J.J. Feigenbaum

The Patriots went 14-2. They gained 750 more yards on the season than they gave up. Their offense finished the season ranked fourth in points scored per game, the defense tied for second in points allowed.

In the divisional round, they beat Peyton Manning by holding his high-powered Colts offense to a measly three points. Then the Pats went into Pittsburgh and put 40-plus points up on the best scoring defense in football.

But to be honest, none of that guarantees the Patriots a win Sunday. What does guarantee the Pats a victory is the fact that they are playing in the Super Bowl. The Patriots win Super Bowls. It really has become that simple.

Donovan McNabb is a great player, but he’s up against No. 12 of the New England Patriots; and right now, Brady is the best big-game quarterback in the galaxy.

Rising to the occasion and playing for the moment is the Patriot way of the life in the Belichick era, not only for Brady but the rest of the team as well. A banged-up, undermanned core of defensive backs held Manning to three points. A defensive line minus its best player, Richard Seymour, derailed the Bus last week against Pittsburgh.

It has always been this way.

Three years ago, a group of unknown skill players ran with and ahead of the greatest show on turf, on the turf of the Superdome, in Super Bowl XXXVI. Willie McGinest, who has been playing on a whole new level the last few years, personally shut down Marshall Faulk in that game, shadowing him around the field and knocking him around. Last year, the Patriots, in the unfamiliar role of favorites, simply outplayed a very good Carolina Panthers team for a second Lombardi Trophy.

This year, the Patriots will play to the moment once again and knock off the Eagles, who are really just happy to have made the Super Bowl. After a grueling 16-game regular season, there were at least four teams with claims to top dog honor. We know a lot more about all these teams after three weeks of playoff football and certainly the Pats and the Eagles are the only two teams that deserve to be playing in the Super Bowl. After another 60 minutes of football, the Patriots will be the only team that deserves to lift the Lombardi Trophy.

When the Patriots have the ball, Corey Dillon should be able to take advantage of an Eagles team that ranked 19th in the NFL in yards allowed per rush.

The Eagles have a Pro Bowl, hard-hitting secondary. But so did the Pittsburgh Steelers and we all saw how that turned out. Whether it is Corey Dillon hitting the holes or Tom Brady hitting his open receivers, the Patriots will make the plays they need to on offense because, simply put, it’s the Super Bowl.

On the other side of the ball, whether T.O. will play is not the question. The question is: Can McNabb solve the Patriots? New England beat Kurt Warner three years ago and neither Manning nor Ben Roethlisberger could deal with the Pats defense. It is a “D” that takes away a quarterback’s options. The Patriots bump receivers to throw off timing and hammer them when they dare catch the ball. They attack the line of scrimmage on running plays with a group of ’tweeners, guys who fit the system to a tee.

I know, and the Patriots certainly do as well, that they won’t be handed this game just because they are the best big-game team in the business. But because they are just that, they will come to play, play hard, and take home a third Super Bowl victory. It is the Super Bowl and this is what the Patriots do -- they win Super Bowls.

Why Eagles will win

By Eagles fan Ed Knizhnik

You can see it on the face of every Philadelphian. Hope. Excitement. Confidence. ESPN and its horde of analysts can pick the Patriots as many times as they want, but there is absolutely nothing that they can say or do to convince me or anyone else in this city that 2005 isn’t the year of the birds. Sure, New England is the reigning champion of the National Football League and on the verge of declaring a dynasty in this age of football parity, but know this: fortune fades, champions fall, and dynasties are often preempted.

So yes, the Eagles are a 7-point underdog, but let’s be honest -- we like it that way. “His whole life was a million to one shot.” Sound familiar? The Eagles are hungry, have overcome their demons in the NFC Championship, and are now ready to shock the world. Why will they win? Clearly it’s all about the eye of the tiger, not to mention the thrill of the fight. They’ll stand up to the challenge of their rivals, and so on, and so forth.

Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that the E-A-G-L-E-S have a hell of a squad.

It starts with Donovan F. McNabb and his desire to win a championship. It’s clear to all that he’s ready to step up and lead his team to victory -- I can assure you that the only chunky soup on his mind is being served in a Super Bowl. The Patriots have faced their share of worthy foes this season, but no QB in the AFC poses as complete a threat as McNabb.

This isn’t Peyton “I can’t throw on the run to save my life” Manning we’re talking about, this is Donovan “I can throw the ball downfield or bulldoze your linebackers if I so desire” McNabb. Bill Belichick can scheme all he wants, but it’s difficult to disrupt No. 5. Throw in Brian Westbrook for incredible versatility and the ability to create a mismatch anywhere on the field, add a dash of the People’s Champ Freddie Mitchell for some clutch grabs, and top it all off with a sprinkle of T.O.’s freakish playmaking ability, bake for 60 minutes, and you’ve got yourself a winning offense.

And let’s not forget about the defense. I’m talking about a tightfisted unit that gave up the second fewest points in the league despite NOT PLAYING STARTERS for two weeks. I’m talking about Jeremiah Trotter, that lumberjack of a middle linebacker who sliced the number of rushing yards allowed per game by 50 just by being inserted into the lineup. I’m talking about a D-line that tears opponents apart with such ferocity that it made Michael Vick look like Eli Manning wearing concrete cleats. I’m talking about an all-pro secondary featuring excellent corners and the malevolent force known only as Dawkins. Receivers be warned.

In a year where the mother of all curses was reversed, I can assure you that Super Bowl XXXIX …is one for the birds.

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