CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – My annual Super Bowl poll of ex-football greats, celebrities, a Hall of Famer and, of course, the Sports Prophet offer their views of Sunday's Super Bowl 52 from Minneapolis and, if Las Vegas oddsmakers are correct, this should be a dandy.
Depending on the Vegas house, the Patriots are favoured by a shrinking three to four points with hefty bets already placed on the Philadelphia Eagles, including a straight up half a million dollar wager on Philadelphia to win. The Super Bowl handle will top the $150 million barrier, a new Sin City Super Bowl record.
The game time temperature is expected -15 C, the coldest ever for a Super Bowl host city and it will have an impact on the crowd. One Super Bowl ticket speculator shelled $18,000 for tickets and unloaded them Tuesday for $12,000 and was happy to get that.
The Eagles are coming off an impressive lopsided win over the Vikings while the Patriots needed Tom Brady’s late-game magic to get past Jacksonville. Let's take a look at what my pollsters had to offer:
A standout with Ottawa Roughriders and Montreal Alouettes as a running back and receiver is regarded as the most talented player ever to come out of Prince Edward Island. He starred with St. Dunstan’s, which became UPEI in 1969, but is still a popular figure here on the Island.
“The Philadelphia front four will give Brady trouble but at the end of the day, I see Brady prevailing by a score like 28-17,” Foley said when we talked this week.
The UPEI football great was a punishing linebacker.
He thinks the Patriots are much better than the Eagles offensively and defensively, and looks for a 14-point New England victory.
Ian (Tex) MacDonald
The P.E.I. Sports Hall of Famer feels New England should have lost to Atlanta last year and needed a couple of calls to go their way in getting past Jacksonville two weeks ago. The Patriots have five Super Bowl wins by a total margin of 17 points and their streak comes to an end Sunday. The Eagles will shut down the Pats and win by 10 points.
Serge Savard Sr.
The NHL Hall of Fame defenceman hasn't gotten over the Atlanta collapse in the last quarter of last year's Super Bowl. Savard, also known in hockey circles as The Senator, is an astute handicapper in all sports and is very impressed with Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.
“I am really impressed with Foles and how composed and how confident he is. Right now he is on top of his game and I believe he'll lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl crown by something like 10 to 14 points.”
A great UPEI linebacker from the mid-1970s who played in the first Can-Am Bowl featuring top Canadian versus USA university players.
“Although I greatly dislike New England, (head coach Bill) Belichick is just too far ahead of the other head coaches as shown by the late-season addition of Steelers great linebacker James Harrison. I'm praying for Philadelphia to win by a field goal.”
Hubert (Sock) MacDonald
MacDonald, who starred on those very good Ed Hilton-coached Panthers teams and signed with the Alouettes in 1979, sees the Patriots winning by something like 28-10.
“I just can't bet against Brady-Belichick,” says the astute Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park (CDP) handicapper.
The former UPEI linebacker, aka the Minister of Pain, thinks the Eagles front four will chase Brady all day and “he's not accurate on the run.
“The Patriots are like the Canadiens, they always get the breaks, but not on Sunday. The Eagles will win by 10 to 14 points.”
Outhouse, the Souris native and hard-hitting linebacker, marvels at the play of New England quarterback Tom Brady.
“He's better now than he was at 30, the Pats are too much for Philadelphia. They're at least a touchdown better.”
Former UPEI quarterback Jim Revelle, the ultimate backup Atlantic Canada quarterback and team player, has called the last three Super Bowls correct. He likes New England on Sunday.
“Brady has too many weapons, the Patriots by at least three touchdowns, not even close.”
Neil MacFadyen, the multi-sports standout and the leading handicapper throughout the year among Islanders in Elmo Beagan's weekly NFL Football test, loves the Patriots to cover the 6-7 expected Las Vegas points spread. (PS. Neil, the spread is now 3-4 points in Vegas)
“It's all about the Brady-Belichick factor,” he said, noting it's too much of a hurdle to overcome.
Fred (Fiddler) MacDonald
Yours truly, Fiddler, aka The Sports Prophet, loves New England. The Patriots will win easily somewhere between 14-21 points. Brady has too many talented receivers: Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Rob Gronkowski is back. And watch for Harrison to have a big game. I was wrong once — but I cannot recall when.
The Island Storm entertains Halifax tonight at 7 p.m. and this should be a thriller as the Hurricanes edged the Storm 103-100 here on Sunday.
Newcomer Chris Anderson was very impressive and fills the void left by Marcus Bell. Storm standouts Andre Stringer, Frank Session, Du’Vaughn Maxwell and more recently Torrence Dyck Jr. are worth the price of admission. You can see these stars and the other Storm players tonight and again Sunday at 2 p.m. at Eastlink Centre when Kitchener-Waterloo comes calling.
The Central Attack under head coach Todd McCabe surprised everyone, maybe themselves, with their great performances last weekend at the Spud winning the midget crown.
I was at the Friday game, a 5-1win over Western, a team they hadn't beaten all year. Goaltender Matt Halliwell was outstanding and earned first star in that game while defenceman Tyler Hashmi and speedster Joseph Hood also impressed on this occasion.
The Attack defeated the Pownal Taco Boyz Red Devils 2-1 in a thriller of a final.
Hashmi was named the midget division MVP as he anchored the Attack's blue-line throughout the tourney.
Chris Nilan, who spearheads a number of fundraisers in this province and who has a great following here, is the guest speaker Sunday, Feb. 11, for the midget AAA awards banquet at Stratford Town Hall from 5-7 p.m.
Tickets are available to the public by calling Trent Birt at 902-394-1298 or Blaine at 902-218-4048. Nilan is a terrific speaker and you will like what he has to say.
P.E.I.'s only sledge hockey team, The Icebreakers, play today at 3 and 5:20 p.m. against Halifax and Cape Breton in a big tournament at the Crapaud arena. The championship round starts Sunday at 8.20 a.m.
No live racing today as the spotlight shifts to the O'Brien awards tonight in Toronto. Our own Marc Campbell is one of two nominees for the horsemanship award, while Truro, N.S.'s Chantel Gillis is in the running for top groom and Brett MacDonald, Ron's boy, is a candidate for the future star honours.
Dr. Ian Moore could hit the podium as the trainer of possible O'Brien-winners Percy Blue Chip and Classic Pro while James MacDonald will be honoured as world driving champion. Should be a fun night.
Fred MacDonald's column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.