Tony Dungy: 'You have to make them the favorite'
Posted by: Chris Vannini on January 22, 2013
Tony Dungy knows how hard it is to win a playoff game in New England.
So when the former Colts head coach and current NBC football analyst was asked on The Dan Patrick Show which Super Bowl participant surprised him the most, he had to go with the Ravens defeating the Patriots.
"I know how tough it is to go up to New England," Dungy said. Baltimore is just a mentally-tough team. They played well and they're playing on this emotional pitch with Ray Lewis. I'm surprised at that. I thought San Francisco had a chance to go in and beat Atlanta but I am really surprised with Baltimore winning."
Since winning three Super Bowls in the early 2000s, the Patriots haven't returned to that mountaintop, despite being one of the favorites every year. Dungy pointed to the defense, which was the foundation of that early success, but has been pushed back behind one of the top offenses in the league.
"I think you're missing that defense to make those critical stops," Dungy said. "That's what always was there in the past. You think back to Rodney Harrison and (Richard) Seymour and (Teddy) Bruschi, they just had those veteran guys making plays when you needed it.
"They still have the offense and they're still moving the ball. They still find ways to do that, but it just doesn't seem like they're getting the critical stops at the big moments when they need them that they got in the early 2000s."
As for the Super Bowl, Dungy's pick is the surprising team riding on an emotional high.
"It's going to be a great game. Right now, I'd have to pick Baltimore," he said. "I just think what they've done, riding that emotion, I kind of see this like Pittsburgh in Jerome Bettis' last year. They're so determined to have him go out on top. They seem to be overcoming the odds.
"A team that could go to Denver and beat Peyton Manning and Broncos, go to New England and beat Brady and the Patriots, I think you have to make them the favorite."
Las Vegas doesn't agree, as San Francisco is around a four-point favorite.
Chris Vannini is the lead writer for CoachingSearch.com and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and MLive.com. He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to email@example.com