Whether it be through a quick listen to sports talk radio, overhearing a conversation waiting in the bank line or simply looking at the Las Vegas point spread, it's clear the Patriots are a decided favorite to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles to capture their third Super Bowl title in four years.
"I don't want to get into the trap of overlooking Philly, but yeah, I would say we're more confident this year than the previous two trips," said Bob Harrington, a big Pats fan from Plymouth, Mass.
Harrington took some time during his lunch on Monday to discuss the prevailing attitude surrounding the defending champs. While he didn't necessarily feel a Patriots victory was a sure thing, he did seem to convey the thoughts of Patriots fans everywhere.
"Just look at the past results," Harrington said when asked why he felt so confident. "Not only they won the other two times, but look at what they did to Indy and Pittsburgh. They way they won those games how could you not feel confident? That makes me feel pretty good about our chances to do the same thing to Philadelphia."
The decided edge in experience may not mean much to coach Bill Belichick, but Harrington's friend, Brian Tenedine, believes it will be a major factor come Sunday night in Jacksonville.
"[The Patriots] have a lot of the same team they had two or three years ago when they won before," said Tenedine, who recently moved from Connecticut to Boston. "If that experience counts for anything the Patriots should be in pretty good shape."
The attitude on talk radio makes Harrington and Tenedine look pessimistic. One after another the calls come in totally dismissing any threat Philadelphia might pose to the Patriots pending dynasty. "What if T.O. [receiver Terrell Owens] plays?" a host asks. "Doesn't matter, the Pats will still win by three touchdowns," the answer comes quickly.
"I just don't see how Philadelphia can stop Corey Dillon with such a small defensive line," says Mark Farrell of Chicopee, Mass. "I think the Eagles are a pretty good team, but they just didn't see the caliber of teams the Patriots saw most weeks in the AFC. I can't see the Patriots losing unless they play a terrible game and turn it over several times."
Harrington believes the addition of Dillon, acquired via an offseason trade with Cincinnati, put the final piece into New England's dominant puzzle. His ability to grind out the tough yards late in games has allowed the Patriots to put games away that occasionally went down to the wire last year when Tom Brady had to keep throwing in order to move the chains.
"Dillon really sticks out on this team," Harrington said. "Obviously they won without him, but I think one of the main reasons people are so confident now as opposed to last year is because of him. Once the Patriots get the lead, it's over because Brady can just hand it to him from there."
Another area in which most all Patriots fans agree is the talk of a dynasty. With a win over the Eagles, New England will secure its third title in four years, matching the 1992-95 Dallas Cowboys as the only team to accomplish the feat. So does a win make the Patriots a modern-day dynasty?
"Absolutely," Harrington said without hesitation. "Winning three Super Bowls in four years has to be considered a dynasty … and the Pats are going to do it."