Over the years, my annual Super Bowl predictions, based on Jewish sources, have been known for their astonishing accuracy. This year, in the interest of transparency, I’ll not even pretend to be objective. So here are my top ten reasons why my hometown team, the New England Patriots, will defeat the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday:
- The Edelman factor: The Patriots’ receiver Julian Edelman has Jewish ancestry on his father’s side and identifies at times as a Jew, which was good enough for him to earn #4 on the list of all-time Jewish NFL players. And check out this video he uploaded after a 2015 trip to Israel. In one profile, when asked for some “good Christmas answers” to questions, Edelman said ‘Well, I’m Jewish, but I’ll try to keep it to Hanukkah presents even though Hanukkah’s over.’” That works for me!
- The NY Times revealed that superstar quarterback Tom Brady, who was very moved by a trip to Israel, has a menorah in his Boston area home. That home is located in Brookline, the cultural hub of Jewish Boston (where I grew up) and just down the street from his Jewish owner, whom he has called “a second father to me.” As for the “cheater” brand that’s been imposed on Brady, don’t get me started!
- In the Talmud (Berachot 9a) a protector is called a “Patranos.” This clearly refers to the New England offensive line.
- Also, in Hebrew, “Pitriot” are mushrooms. Go here to see some gorgeous looking Israeli mushrooms, likely from the Hefer Valley (a fertile strip of land in Central Israel). This area of the country was redeemed by the Jewish National Fund in the early Zionist days, and the great symbol of that redemption, at least here, are Pitriot.
- This game features two teams with Jewish owners, but Robert Kraft is the only one who has built a stadium in Jerusalem. His dedication to Israel and Jewish causes is well known. Some have criticized his friendship with Donald Trump, but the operative word here is not “Trump” but “friendship.” Kraft is a loyal friend, who does not forget those who have been associated with his family. I’ve seen that personally, in how the warm relationship his father had with mine has carried forward in his kindness to my family. Kraft, who rarely is overtly political, has been a major donor to both Republicans and Democrats, and his relationship with Trump began long before the President adopted his current policies. I can’t blame Kraft for being a loyal friend, I can only commend him for it — and hope he has Trump’s ear and will speak up about fundamental Jewish concerns like embracing the stranger and affirming the uniquely Jewish dimension of the Holocaust.
- Ever the guardians of Kashrut, the Patriots’ last two Super Bowl victories have come against unkosher birds of prey — the Eagles and Seahawks. Beating the Falcons will continue the trend, which next year will continue with a defeat of the Cardinals.
- Indeed, the falcon is listed in Leviticus 11:14 among those “detestable things” that should not be eaten. The next bird listed, incidentally, is the raven, who the Patriots already have defeated this season.
- The Hebrew word for falcon, “aya,” is spelled identically to the word “ayeh,” which means “where.” In 2014, the team posted incorrect instructions for its fans on how to get to London for a midseason game, placing London on a map somewhere near Barcelona. Even this season, the Falcons were seen as a team headed in the wrong direction. Having played in only one prior Super Bowl, it will be understandable if the Falcons look lost on the field on Sunday.
- The Talmud describes the falcon as a skilled hunter, trained by people and used in the chase. Atlanta’s linebackers are indeed skilled at chasing down opposing running backs, and their receivers can chase down errant passes. But can these Falcons themselves avoid being caught? Apparently not. In 2013, Turkey arrested a falcon and accused it of spying for Israel. When it comes to birds, at least, one can take the approach of President Trump, who prefers heroes “who don’t get captured.”
- The Jewish population of Atlanta: 200,000. Boston: 261,000, and if you throw in other New England cities like Providence, Hartford, Springfield, New Haven and, yes, Stamford, the number soars well past 300,000. No contest.
There you have it, my top ten reasons the Patriots will win. As for the score, Patriot Super Bowls in the Brady-Belichick era are always close. I see a three point win (there were three patriarchs, after all), 34-31. Incidentally, a Hebrew numerical equivalent of 34 is Gimmel-Alef-Lamed, “redemption.” After two years of inflated accusations and a bogus four game suspension, that’s exactly what Brady and the Pats will achieve this Sunday.