So, I woke up this morning thinking it was 2002. Or 2004. Or 2005. Or 2008. Or 2012. Or 2015. Or 2017. Or 2018. I felt like Bill Murray’s character Phil from “Groundhog Day.” It seemed that the day had repeated itself as I looked online for sports news — New England is in the Super Bowl, again.

The Patriots dominance over the league has been something quite captivating (whether you like them or not). This past season they broke the record for most wins in a decade (defeating the previous holder — the 2000-09 New England Patriots) and still have one more year to go. This type of consistency is unheard of in professional sports and this team really deserves a big tip of the hat.

I am not a Patriot apologist (I know some might think because of the earlier statement I am), but I do envy the franchise for doing things that most would never dream of. If you think about it, dominance at this caliber can only be given to the 1990s Chicago Bulls teams in the NBA. I know older people would like to point out the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and Montreal Canadiens (just to name a few), but most of this dominance was done before free agency, expansion and salary cap restrictions. So this feat is truly remarkable.

But back to the feeling of deja vu. When I sit down to watch the Super Bowl this year, I wonder if Patriot quarterback Tom Brady will be going through all the mistakes that he made the prior year against the Philadelphia Eagles and try to rectify them against the Los Angeles Rams. Much like Bill Murray, I think Brady will anticipate the rush more and not put the ball on the ground late in the game.

The Lombardi Trophy will have to stand-in for Andie MacDowell’s character Rita as Brady looks to woe it away from the Rams. Although Brady has hoisted the trophy five other times, I think we are getting to the point into his career that he may want to ride off in the sunset a winner … or not. He has already cemented his legacy as one of, if not, the best quarterbacks of all-time.

Head coach Bill Belichick does not really have a role in this story. His is one of dominance, almost a king’s story. But for me, Belichick reminds me of Clint Eastwood’s character in “Hang’em High.” After being left for dead (fired as Cleveland Browns coach), Belichick comes back to right the wrongs (prove they made a mistake), get revenge (win multiple Super Bowls) and ends with the realization that he has great power given to him by Judge Adam Fenton (Robert Kraft).

However the Super Bowl plays out this year, I hope for a good game like we have seen in recent memory — a close, hard-fought, down to the wire classic.

So if Punxsutawney Phil comes out of the ground and sees his shadow, does that mean six more Super Bowls for the Patriots?

Game prediction: New England 27, Los Angeles 23

Zach Stich is the managing editor of The Fergus Falls Daily Journal. His column appears Thursday.

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