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Unpopular Opinions

Unpopular Opinions: Patriots in Super Bowl LIII? Yes, please!!

Listen, I don't try to live my life as a contrarian. That's not true -- I kind of do. I spend a lot of time in public houses and taverns, and I have a two-hour commute that allows me to hear a lot of the sports world's most popular opinions. Sometimes, I think it's best to take a look at the other side.

In this space, I'll be articulating a handful of positions that are the opposite of what most people think -- unpopular opinions, if you will -- and explain why, well, my unpopular opinions are right and everyone else is wrong.

I want the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. I mean, if my friends in Duval County, Florida, can't be there. But for the sake of this exercise: I want the Pats representing the AFC in Atlanta next February.

You do, too.

Blasphemy, I know. I saw your Facebook posts before Super Bowl LII. The ones that were all, "Eagles fan for a day" and whatnot. I get it. You have Patriots fatigue. There is a basic instinct in humans where you root for the underdogs -- until they get good.

As strange as it seems now, New England was indeed the lovable underdog going into Super Bowl XXXVI against the Rams. Tom Brady was the scrawny backup who'd been thrust into the spotlight. The Patriots eschewed the traditional Super Bowl introductions and ran in as a team.

You. Loved. It.

But once the underdogs become great, you grow to hate them and everything they stand for. Instead of appreciating the best dynasty in sports history, you choose to vilify. Which is fine -- that's your prerogative.

It's hard to fathom something being this good for this long, so you resist. This is a common cause-and-effect dynamic outside the world of sports, too.

Just the other day, my dear friend and esteemed colleague Matt Harmon mused that maybe we have too many Star Wars projects in the works. Which is impossible. The last three Star Wars films -- "Force Awakens," "Rogue One" and "Last Jedi" -- are the best movies in the franchise outside of "Empire Strikes Back." Don't @ me. Suggesting we have too many Star Wars movies is akin to saying we have too much oxygen. You can never have too much oxygen. Or wait, that's not true. Isn't "the bends" a result of getting too much oxygen? That's the bends, right? It is. (Editor's note: It's not. Rank was clearly not a bio major, but he's rolling.)

Similarly, the Patriots dynasty -- no matter how annoying you find it -- routinely takes part in the best Super Bowls of all time. Like, the best. Don't just take my word for it. Bing "best Super Bowls ever" and look at the results. Nearly every list will have at least three Patriots Super Bowls in the top five. My guy Will Brinson put out his list and the Patriots took bronze, silver and gold. Colleague Elliot Harrison is obsessed with grainy game film, so he put Super Bowl XIII (the 1979 Steelers-Cowboys bout) at No. 1 in his rankings. But Nos. 2 through 4? Yep, all Pats games. And both of those countdowns came out beforeSuper Bowl LII offered up an all-time classic shootout two Sundays ago.

Seriously, the Pats have provided fans with an embarrassment of Super Sunday riches. Just take a quick look back at the eight games from the Brady/Belichick era:

Super Bowl XXXVI: Patriots 20, Rams 17. As referenced above, the underdog Pats stun "The Greatest Show on Turf," kick-starting the Canton push for three future first-ballot Hall of Famers: Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri (Wait, a kicker on the first ballot? Yes. He had BETTER be.)

Super Bowl XXXVIII: Patriots 32, Panthers 29. Right before the 2003 season kicked off, the Patriots released Lawyer Milloy, who signed with the Bills and beat the Patriots 31-0 in Week 1. And everybody was like, Yep, the Patriots were a fluke. New England lost one more game the entire season. This Super Bowl was great, too. Might have been the first overtime Super Bowl if John Kasay didn't send the kickoff out of bounds after Carolina tied the score at 29. (And you don't think Adam V is a first-ballot Hall of Famer? Pffft.)

Super Bowl XXXIX: Patriots 24, Eagles 21. Terrell Owens might have stolen the show with his quick return from a broken leg, but the Patriots put the stamp on their mini-dynasty with a third Super Bowl in four years. This was like the last time the original band members were together. The "Use Your Illusion II" of Patriots Super Bowls.

Super Bowl XLII: Giants 17, Patriots 14. This was the best Patriots team of all time. I mean, if you needed to win one game, which New England team would you pick? Well, not if that one game were a Super Bowl against the Giants. But any other game, you pick this team.

Super Bowl XLVI: Giants 21, Patriots 17. It would have been fitting for Brady's desperation heave to be the difference for the Pats this time around, but it was not to be.

Super Bowl XLIX: Patriots 28, Seahawks 24.WHY ISN'T BELICHICK CALLING A TIME OUT?!! Oh, good call, Bill. Also that Seahawks defense that humiliated and tarnished the legacy of Peyton Manning was carved up by Brady for 328 yards and four touchdowns. Just saying.

Super Bowl LI: Patriots 34, Falcons 28 (OT). Few people remember this, but the Patriots were down 28-3 in this game and managed to rally. (Best. Game. Ever.)

Super Bowl LII: Eagles 41, Patriots 33. Sure, it looked like a Big 12 football game. But damn, it was pretty great.

It should be noted, too, that one of the other games that's routinely featured near the top of those "Best Super Bowls Ever" lists is XXV: Giants 20, Bills 19. Which makes sense, because guess who was the defensive coordinator of the winning Giants? No, not Matt Patricia. Dude, he might not have even been born yet. (I know, but my editor went, "Wait, was he?" and looked it up. It's the beard. He just looks like a millennial.) But no, it was Bill Belichick. Of course it was.

The Patriots have never played in a bad Super Bowl. What about Super Bowl XXXI (Packers 35, Patriots 21)? Yeah, that was miserable, but only because Brett Favre and the Pack finally won one in the modern era. At least the Patriots' uniforms were pretty sick. Wait, Super Bowl XX (Bears 46, Patriots 10)? I hope you're joking. That was the greatest [freaking] Super Bowl of all time! How dare you!! The '85 Bears are the most important team in NFL history. And they had to go over big to prove that point. That team -- and that game -- made the NFL what it is today.

And while the Patriots weren't the Patriots back then, they are the Patriots now. If that makes sense. As noted above, they are the team everyone wants to beat. Philadelphians were going to celebrate (and I'll use the term "celebrate" loosely) no matter who the Eagles beat in the Super Bowl. But beating the Patriots makes it that much sweeter. "Star Wars" becomes a completely different movie if Darth Vader is the Kelly Holcomb of the galaxy. He's not. He's Tom Brady. I know, we've all heard this analogy. But you want to beat the Patriots. As my friend Grant told me after his Eagles prevailed, "Since we can't beat the Cowboys in the Super Bowl, the Patriots are a nice trophy to have mounted above your fireplace."

Bottom line: Super Bowl Sunday + New England Patriots = Instant classic.

So, that makes you want to see them in the big game next year, doesn't it?

All right, I knew I couldn't completely convince you, but you thought about it for a sec. That's all I can ask.

Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @AdamRank.

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