Even if numbers occasionally lie Nikolaj Ehlers Jersey , most of them indicate the New England Patriots are in great position to hoist a sixth Lombardi Trophy.
The reasons begin in the only place they could: with Tom Brady.
Yes, at 40 years old Brady would be the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl if the Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. He would dethrone Peyton Manning, who won at age 39 with the Denver Broncos to cap the 2015 season.
Brady has put up numbers in his 18th season unmatched by any player in NFL history. He led the league with 4,577 yards passing during the regular season and his five touchdown passes are tied for the most in the playoffs.
Brady’s seven Super Bowl appearances are as many as the entire Eagles roster. He’s faced a myriad of difficult scenarios in the championship game, including last year’s 25-point hole the Patriots dug out of to beat the Falcons.
Brady won that one without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who will be in uniform after being cleared late this week.
Close games have been no problem , for Brady and coach Bill Belichick either. The total difference in scoring in those seven games is 12 points: Patriots 169, opponents 157.
You want to talk about comebacks? No player in the Super Bowl era has more fourth-quarter comebacks in the playoffs in his career than Brady’s eight. It’s probably why Brady chuckled this week when he was again asked about how long he wanted to keep playing.
”Why does everyone want me to retire so bad?” Brady said. ”I don’t get it. I’m having fun. The team’s doing good. I know I’m a little bit older than most of the guys, but I’m really enjoying it. … I’m not thinking about retirement. I’m thinking about the Super Bowl and trying to win the most important game of the year.”
As big as the Brady factor is, he’s not the only advantage New England has.
The Patriots lost go-to receiver Julian Edelman in the preseason to a knee injury and linebacker Dont’a Hightower to a season-ending shoulder injury in October. After some early-season struggles Alex Pietrangelo Jersey Kids , Belichick found a way to plug the holes, with contributions from several previously unheralded players like Trey Flowers, Kyle Van Noy, Lawrence Guy and Ricky Jean Francois .
New England has also gotten a strong season from receiver Brandin Cook after acquiring him from New Orleans this offseason. He posted his third straight 1,000-yard receiving season (1,082) and was second on the team in receiving yards behind only Gronkowski (1,084). Running back Dion Lewis has also found new life just two seasons removed from a knee injury. He led the team with 896 yards rushing and six rushing touchdowns.
It’s underlined the football savvy of Belichick, who with a sixth Super Bowl win would pass Vince Lombardi and tie George Halas and Curly Lambeau for most NFL championships by a coach.
Belichick will be taking part in his 11th Super Bowl as a head coach or assistant, the most among any coach in NFL history. That amounts to 21.2 percent of all Super Bowls in league history and 34.4 percent of all Super Bowls since his first appearance as the Giants defensive coordinator in 1986.
Though there have been reports of alleged friction this season between Belichick, Brady and team owner Robert Kraft Authentic David Desharnais Jersey , it’s clear they are on the same page when it comes to the pursuit of championships.
”It changes every year. The venues are different, the teams are different, the matchups are different, and the road the team has traveled to get here is different, as is the road your opponent has traveled,” Belichick said. ”Each one is unique. Each one’s special.”
Teams from opposite ends of Pennsylvania and heading in opposite directions face off this weekend when the Philadelphia Phillies visit the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.
Philadelphia (47-37) has won four games in a row and six of its past seven to sit 10 games above .500 for the first time since late 2011.
“I think it’s a nice milestone and one that we can celebrate. We’ll use it as fuel and motivation,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said.
The Phillies have put themselves in solid contention in the National League East. The series opener Friday against Pittsburgh launches a four-city, 11-game road trip that leads into the All-Star break.
“We never really doubted ourselves,” said starter Aaron Nola, who picked up the win Wednesday in a 4-1 victory over Baltimore. “Other people thought we were in a rebuilding year this year. We got good additions to the team.
“We have veteran guys who have been on winning teams and won championships. They know what it takes to win Adam Henrique Jersey , and I think we’re following them.”
The Pirates (40-46), meanwhile, sit at a season-low six games below .500 and are in danger of being caught by last-place Cincinnati in the NL Central. They are opening an 11-game homestand leading into the All-Star break.
Pittsburgh is coming off a 2-4 West Coast trip, the final three games of which it was swept in Los Angeles by a combined score of 31-8. The Dodgers had 10 homers among 41 hits in those games.
“I think we definitely could have played better, but we also ran into a really hot team too,” Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer told MLB.com. “In the whole grand scheme of things, we haven’t played very well and we’re six games under .500 right now. Things could be a lot worse.
“That’s one of the bright spots that you can look at. … We need to put four or five games in a row, and win four or five good games in a row, then see what happens after that.”
The Phillies qualify as another hot team. They also swept a four-game series against the Pirates in April.
“We’ve just got to keep working,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “The game shows you where you need to improve. It gives you immediate feedback. We got a lot of immediate feedback.”
Two Pittsburgh starters Authentic Nick Bjugstad Jersey , Chad Kuhl and Joe Musgrove, were hurt during the road trip.
On Friday, Pirates right-hander Trevor Williams (6-6, 4.22 ERA) is scheduled to start against Philadelphia righty Nick Pivetta (5-7, 4.66).
Williams has lost two straight starts since a June 18 win when he pitched seven scoreless, one-hit innings in a 1-0 game against Milwaukee. That was his first victory in more than a month.
He is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in two career starts against the Phillies, including a no-decision April 22 when he gave up two runs in six innings of an 11-inning Pirates loss.
Pivetta’s last outing wasn’t a start. He came in to pitch a scoreless 13th inning Sunday when the Phillies had to go deep into their pitching staff in a 4-3 win over Washington. It was his first relief appearance since 2015 when he was in Class A.
Pivetta has one no-decision in his career against Pittsburgh.
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