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Eagles vs Patriots – Super Bowl LII Preview

It all comes down to this.

In a rematch from Super Bowl 39, the Philadelphia Eagles attempt to win their first NFL Championship since 1960, and of course, their first Super Bowl title. The only thing standing in their way is a team that features probably the game’s greatest quarterback, a team that is looking win it’s 6th title, and a coach who is so stone-faced, he could probably take down Daniel Negreanu in Hold ‘Em with his cards laying face up. They are once again underdogs, (although the Vegas line is dropping), and they are doing it with their backup quarterback. They can still do it, right?

If the Dallas Cowboys are the most hated team in this country, The New England Patriots are 1a. Their success over the past 16 years is simply unprecedented. You have to go back to 2001 when they made their first appearance in the big game under this regime , upsetting the high-flying Rams to start a run that no one has seen in any professional sport in this day and age. Bill Belichek and Tom Brady have combined for a 183-52 record. They win nearly 78% of their games. Brady says he wants to play for another 5 years, and at this rate he looks like he can. However, there have been¬†rumors that this could be the dynasty’s last hurrah.

Tom Brady comes into this matchup with an arsenal of weapons. Brandin Cooks can burn. Dion Lewis and James White both catch well out of the backfield. Danny Amendola has been reliable when healthy. Chris Hogan is an end-zone threat. Oh, and they have some guy known as “Gronk”. The Patriots averaged 391 yards a game of total offense, with 276 of that in the air. They ranked 10th in the league averaging 110 yards on the ground. They are going up against the best rushing defense in the NFL this season in the Eagles, so that will be a point of emphasis for both teams to try to gain an advantage on.

The Eagles ranked 7th this season in total offense, averaging 365 yards a game total, with 132 on the ground, good for 3rd this year. The edge here is the yards in the air when facing this Patriots secondary. The Eagles averaged 233 ypg, granted most of that was with Wentz under center, but New England ranked 30th against the pass. If the Eagles are able to run the ball effectively with Jay Ajayi and former Patriot LeGarrett Blount, they should most certainly be able to pass it on them as well. The challenge may be actually getting it into the end zone. The Patriots gave up just over 18 points per game, so they absolutely live by the “bend but don’t break” theory. Going head-to-head against a guy like Tom Brady, the Eagles are going to need Nick Foles to find a way to get in past the goal line and to not settle for field goals. One guy to watch in the red zone is Zach Ertz. He has been very reliable all season long, could be seeing a lot of former Eagle Patrick Chung which could make him the x-factor for the Eagles passing game.

Looking up and down the rosters, the Eagles seem to have more depth of talent. Head Coach Doug Pederson has been remarkable at preparing his team for the big games this year, and I expect nothing less but a solid effort from the birds on Sunday. Across the sidelines, it’s a team full of players and coaches who have been here before and have the experience intangible by a landslide. Despite never scoring a point in the first quarter of any Super Bowl, the duo of Brady/Belicheck is 5-2 on this stage. Also, when playing a team in the postseason that he had not faced that regular season, Belicheck is 15-0.

So how can the Eagles actually pull this off? It could come down to these things. On defense for the Eagles, Malcom Jenkins against Rob Gronkowski. Playing up is nothing new for Jenkins, but the Eagles have not been great this year against tight ends, and Gronk is the best they will see. I have confidence that Jenkins can hold his own, but you can only hope to contain Gronk as he will get his. The other matchup is also on the defensive side of the ball, and could be the biggest deciding factor in the game. The defensive line vs Tom Brady. If Cox and Jernigan can get pressure up the middle, Brady’s completion percentage drops almost 30 percentage points, and when Brady is sacked multiple times and hurried in the double digits, he is more prone to throw interceptions. Get to him. And do it often. If the Eagles front seven is successful at this under Jim Schwartz’s scheme, the city of Philadelphia will have a parade down Broad Street while hoisting their first Lombardi Trophy.

Eagles 29, Patriots 22

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