On Sunday, the Patriots and the Eagles will face off in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Super Bowl LII will kick off at 6:30 PM. ET.
The Patriots are coming off another come from behind victory by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. This time, the Patriots came back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Jaguars. Even more impressive was that the comeback began after All-Pro tight end, Rob Gronkowski was lost for the game to a concussion. Brady needed to rely on his other receivers, and despite facing the number one pass defense, Brady and the Patriots’ were able to overcome the adversity to advance to their 8th Super Bowl in the Brady and Belichick era.
The biggest playmaker for Brady was receiver Danny Amendola. Brady connected with Amendola twice in the fourth quarter in the end zone to turn their 10-point deficit into a four-point lead. Throughout his tenure with the Patriots, Amendola has, time and time again, come up huge in the game’s biggest moments. Expect Brady to look Amendola’s way on crucial third downs and in the red zone when the Eagles try to negate Gronkowski’s impact on the game.
The Eagles are coming off a truly impressive performance over the Vikings. Minnesota took a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter before the Eagles scored 31 straight points to win the game. The Eagles dominated in every facet of the game. Defensively, the Eagles stymied Case Keenum and the Vikings passing attack, forcing Minnesota to check down to their running back for what amounted to only short gains.
The Eagles offense was equally as impressive in the victory. Nick Foles completed 26 passes on 33 attempts for 352 yards and three touchdowns. Despite facing the league’s top defense, Foles was rarely under pressure and easily moved the ball down the field dismantling the league’s best scoring defense. Against the Patriots, expect Foles to have a harder time moving the ball, as the Patriots will try to disguise their coverages in an attempt to bate Foles into making a mistake. Since the Patriots like to take away a team’s best weapon and, depending on the down and distance, that’s either Zack Ertz or Alshon Jeffery. Expect another Eagles receiver (either Agholor or Smith) to step up and have a big impact on the game.
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are in unprecedented territory, and regardless of the talking heads that say there is trouble brewing up in Foxborough, the fact remains: no coach and quarterback combo have ever accomplished more than Belichick and Brady. One of the reasons the Patriots are so hard to beat in the Super Bowl is this experience. For another player, the pressure’s of the Super Bowl can become too great. In the Patriots’ last two Super Bowl victories, the opposing quarterbacks both made critical mistakes at inopportune moments. The Patriots rarely put themselves in that position, while their opponents find themselves there almost routinely.
The Patriots ability to not beat themselves is what sets them apart from other teams and what gives them the edge in career defining games. With a chance to win their 6th title, however, Brady and Belichick will face perhaps their greatest challenge yet: a true underdog.
It’s true that the Patriots are almost always the favorite. It’s a position that they’re comfortable playing from. Once in a great while, however, a team comes along that unequivocally embodies the moniker of the underdog.
Every dog has its day
Before Carson Wentz was lost for the year, the Eagles looked like the team to beat. The Eagles looked like a team on a collision course with destiny, but when Wentz was lost to injury, the season looked as though it was lost. The Philly faithful rallied around Wentz’s backup, Nick Foles, but few outsiders believed that this Eagles team with a backup quarterback could navigate the gauntlet that was the NFC playoff picture.
The Eagles not only won but did so by dominating and dismantling their opponents. For an underdog, Philly has a lot of support behind them in this Super Bowl and that’s because what Philly does best is the Patriots greatest weakness. The Eagles defensive line has tremendous depth and that’s a problem. With incredible players like Chris Long coming off the bench part of a deep rotation, the Eagles have a plethora of talent to constantly churn out against the Patriots offensive line. When the Patriots lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl in 2011 and 2007, New England’s offensive line was under constant attack from a relentless pass rush up the middle.
That’s always been the key to stopping Brady. Getting pressure up the middle and forcing him to move off his spot. The Eagles don’t even need to sack Brady, they just need to make him uncomfortable in the pocket, and this Eagles team has the defense to do that.
Patriots’ X-Factor: While the Patriots will likely rely on the likes of Gronkowski, Cooks, Lewis, and Amendola in their passing attack, there remains two forgotten players: James White and Chris Hogan. Last season and early this season before his injury, Chris Hogan played an important role in the offense. Since returning from injury, however, Hogan hasn’t factored into the offensive game plan. With so many weapons on offense, Hogan is easy to forget and that’s exactly what makes him a dangerous option in the Super Bowl. Likewise, in last year’s Super Bowl, James White set a Super Bowl record with 14 receptions and was instrumental in their 25-point comeback. While White seems more of a lock to impact this game, expect both of these offensive weapons to make a few big plays to help decide the game.
Eagles’ X-Factor: Kicker Jake Elliot is a rookie and has converted on all four of his field goal attempts this postseason. He has, however, missed an extra point kick this postseason. With so little margin for error, Elliot’s performance is worth monitoring.
Eagles vs. Patriots Betting Lines
This is a hard game to pick. The Patriots are trying to win back to back Super Bowls for the first time since they won back to back Super Bowls in the early part of this century. With a victory, the Patriots would have three Super Bowls in four years becoming the first to do so since…you guessed it…the Patriots. The Eagles, however, have overcome the loss of their quarterback and have used the disrespect of the national media to propel them to this stage. It’s David vs Goliath. It’s Rocky vs Apollo Creed. It’s Nick Foles vs. Tom Brady. And when the confetti clears, expect the Patriots, having made the right mid-game adjustments to outfox the Eagles in the second half, to win their 6th title and third in four years, and… you get the picture.
Play: Patriots -4.5 @ BetOnline.ag