Our annual Super Bowl poll gives the New England Patriots an 8-4 edge over the Los Angeles Rams while Las Vegas oddsmakers have installed the Patriots as 2.5-point favourites in Sunday’s biggest football game of the year.
Eight of the 12 pollsters have sided with the Patriots over the Rams and ironically the two that have posted the most significant wins in major sporting events in this country are split on tomorrow's Super Bowl.
Former CFL great Jim Foley, who won Grey Cups with Ottawa and Montreal, likes the Rams while former NHL great defenceman Serge Savard, who had eight Stanley Cups as a player and a couple more as Montreal Canadians GM, picks a New England Super Bowl victory.
Their fellow pollsters of former football standouts, celebrities and, of course, “The Prophet”, have their own opinions.
A standout with Montreal and Ottawa in the early 1970s, Foley is the greatest football player ever to come out of Saint Dunstan’s, now UPEI. In winning the Bluenose Conference (now, Atlantic University Sport) MVP crown in 1968, Foley rushed for a record 9.6 yards per carry.
“The LA front four will pressure (Tom) Brady and as a result the Rams will get turnovers that will make the difference. Rams QB Jarod Goff is a good one, and I like the Rams 31-27.”
Ian (Tex) MacDonald
Holland College's first football coach and a longtime high school coach at Colonel Gray, feels the Rams defence is a lot better than most think. They can pressure Brady and unlike previous games, he will get forced out of the pocket and get hit. The Rams by a 27-24 score.
The former UPEI Panthers star, who played in the very first Can-Am Bowl and is one of UPEI's all-time greats, hopes the Rams, “pound the Patriots and the bigger the score, the better.” Nobody, with the exception of Mike Puiia, hates New England more than Tokis. Go Rams Go.
There's not many great sports handicappers out of Augustine Cove, but this unheralded athlete who represented P.E.I. nationally in five sports, is tops in this P.E.I. potato growing region. Neil is a top football and harness racing handicapper and is looking at a Rams win by a field goal, something like 27-24.
A punishing linebacker in his playing days with coach Ed Hilton's top clubs of the mid-1970s, Dowling enjoyed the physical play. As for Brady and the Patriots, “Brady is the greatest QB that ever played the game, (Bill) Belichick the greatest coach of all-time.” He likes the Patriots by 10 or more points.
One of hockey's all-time great blue-liners and the first ever Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Savard is a big football fan and an astute follower of the game.
“The Pats impress me as a team and their defence is much better than last year at this time. New England has both a ground game and a pass attack, plus Brady.”
Patriots by at least a touchdown.
Hubert (Sock) MacDonald
MacDonald, another all-time UPEI football great who signed with the Montreal Alouettes in 1979, is firmly convinced of a Patriots win.
“Do not ever bet against Brady and Belichick. I don't think the Super Bowl will be a close game, the Patriots by something like 30-10.”
Kennedy, the former UPEI great linebacker nicknamed “The Minister of Pain”, says Brady is the greatest quarterback of all-time and the Patriots will win by at least two touchdowns. He expect this game will be over early.
The former Souris high school and UPEI standout, Outhouse was a big hitter for a small guy and he could fly.
“It looks as though someone dipped Pats QB Tom Brady into the fountain of youth and coach Belichick always has the right game plan. Pats by at least 10 points.”
Revell was a good Charlottetown Rural QB who graduated to the football Panthers and played with many of the above players. He was one of the more popular players on the club and a reliable back-up QB who had his moments in the AUS. Today, Cooke Insurance is a major sponsor of football in the province and the its founder, Charlie Cooke, had a box seat at the very first Super Bowl. Revell loves New England over L.A.
“It's the Brady-Belichick factor. They'll win, doesn't matter the spread, they'll win.”
Wood, who showed his fiddle talents all over the world, made a guest appearance with Shania Twain on the David Letterman Show and played for the queen of England and the emperor of Japan, has been to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro many times.
I touched base with Richard at one of Charlottetown's watering last weekend and this is what he said.
“The Patriots have the greatest QB of all time in Tom Brady and the greatest head coach in Bill Belichick and they'll win the Super Bowl with ease, by at least 10 points.”
Fred “The Sports Prophet” MacDonald
I cannot possibly bet against Brady and Belichick. The Patriots traded for head coach Belichick giving first, fourth and seventh rounders to the New York Jets 19 years ago for the coach, a fifth and a seventh. It is possibly one of the most one-sided football trades of all time. The Pats have played in eight straight AFC championship games and Sunday will be their sixth Super Bowl win. I can't bet against Brady-Belichick, besides two Fiddlers can't possibly be wrong.
Did you know?
New Patriots QB Tom Brady and Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff have Montreal Expos connections.
Brady was drafted in second round by the Expos and considered a power hitter with potential, a much better than average prospect. Goff's dad Jerry actually played parts of two seasons behind the plate with the Expos in his six-year major league career.
The Island Storm play the Saint John Riptide Sunday at 2 p.m. at Eastlink Centre.
The Storm suffered an overtime loss to Kitchener-Waterloo and a 12-point loss to London last week on a swing through Ontario. My wife Gail and grandson Oliver attended the London game and Ollie asked granny, “Where's Russell Byrd?”
The Storm were without Byrd, Kareem Canty and Dominic Shuler and it's tough to win without those three key players. Newcomer Malik Story, who averaged 19 points per game when last in the NBL, has joined the Storm for the second-half surge and his outside shooting is greatly needed.
Sunday's game is a key game as the Storm is chasing Saint John for the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.
There is no live racing at the Charlottetown track but there is plenty of simulcast racing from Flamboro, Mohawk, Western Fair, Meadowlands and Yonkers as well as the thoroughbred tracks.
The local harness racing game suffered more losses with the passing of longtime owner Garth Toombs and of breeder-owner Brian MacKinnon of Belfast.
Brian and his dad Neil seldom missed a race at the Charlottetown and Brian was also a keen student of the breeding side of the business. He was also a fixture at the Belfast Highland Greens. So sad to lose such a great chap at age 49, far too young to depart.
Toombs, 81, of North Bedeque was a longtime owner for 50 years. He had horses at Foxboro with Elmer Smith and with Clarkie Smith here. In the past few years, he shared ownership in numerous colts with Reg MacPherson, but none was a home-run hitter nor did they make the races. Garth was a great guy and a loss for our ownership ranks.
Fred MacDonald's column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.