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PFW's Super Bowl XXXIX predictions

As the Patriots finalize preparations for Sunday’s big game, PFW sat down and put the cap on two weeks of Super Bowl buildup with a final round of pregame predictions.

PREDICTION: Patriots win it, 34-17. By now we shouldn't be surprised at how superior New England truly is.

OFFENSIVE KEY: Patience, and that will come from the confidence of knowing the Patriots defense can keep the Eagles under wraps. The Philly secondary is too good to take chances against. Run Corey Dillon, use Kevin Faulk in space and take advantage of the high percentage passes the Eagles pressure defense allows. By the fourth quarter, Jevon Kearse and company will be breathing heavy and the Patriots will cruise.

DEFENSIVE KEY: The Eagles without Terrell Owens at full speed become much too dependent on Donovan McNabb. Although he can do things with his legs Peyton Manning can't, I like the Patriots chances any time they face a quarterback-heavy offense. That's no slight to Brian Westbrook but he's as much a receiver as he is a runner. It's all up to McNabb.

MVP: Tedy Bruschi

--Fred Kirsch

PREDICTION: Patriots 20, Eagles 16. This will be a nip and tuck game with both defenses playing well and forcing at least one, probably two turnovers. The Patriots will break a 13-13 tie early in the fourth with a Corey Dillon 2-yard touchdown run. Philly will respond with a field goal and Dillon will eventually grind out the clock to secure the win.

OFFENSIVE KEY: Protect Tom Brady -- The Patriots have to keep Brady clean and give him time to throw against the best secondary the Patriots have played all year. He needs to be on his game and make great decisions under duress. The Eagles will test his ability to do that.

DEFENSIVE KEY: Contain McNabb -- The Philly quarterback can make every throw and can disrupt a game plan by making a back-breaking play with his feet, whether running or throwing -- the kind of plays that take the life out of a disciplined defense playing its assignments well.

MVP: Corey Dillon -- Dillon rushes for two touchdowns and 101 yards, much of it coming in the fourth quarter of a close game.

--Bryan Morry

PREDICTION: Patriots 35, Eagles 20. The Eagles are a well-rounded, balanced team on both sides of the ball, but so are the Patriots. New England is a more seasoned, tested team with the experience to rise to the occasion on the biggest of stages.

OFFENSIVE KEY: Run the ball -- Getting Corey Dillon established early will not only get the offense rolling, but should take some of the aggression out of the Eagles blitzing attack. Running at undersized ends Jevon Kearse and Derrick Burgess is a matchup New England should win.

DEFENSIVE KEY: Minimize Westbrook -- Brian Westbrook can hurt a defense in many ways. Getting physical with the all-purpose back while not losing contain on Donovan McNabb is the best chance the Patriots have of keeping Philly's offense in check.

MVP: Tom Brady. While I think Dillon will be a huge key for New England, past performance and reputation come into play here. Brady will have his usual effective and efficient big game and that will be enough to get the votes for his third Super Bowl MVP in four seasons as a starting NFL quarterback.

-- Andy Hart

PREDICTION: Eagles 24, Patriots 23. Covering the Eagles this week has made me believe that this team is hungrier and more focused than anyone is giving them credit for. The defense is legit and will limit the Patriots offense, while a big special teams play will be the difference in the game. Both defenses will give Super Bowl-worthy performances.

OFFENSIVE KEY: Pass protection -- OTs Brandon Gorin and Matt Light vs. DEs Jevon Kearse and Derrick Burgess. The Eagles pass rush presents the most difficult challenge of the year for the Patriots. The Patriots will be forced to use extra blockers in pass protection, limiting their passing game downfield.

DEFENSIVE KEY: Stopping Westbrook -- Safeties Rodney Harrison and Eugene Wilson will need to check Westbrook all over the field. Philadelphia's offense is keyed by Westbrook breaking long plays -- making tackling and pursuit vital for the Patriots.

MVP: Donovan McNabb. The award almost always goes to a quarterback, and McNabb will take home the hardware with one of the biggest games of his career. He throws for more than 300 yards and scores once on the ground.

-- Frank Tadych

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