—Christian Clark, Josiah Huband, Decker Flamm, & John Mill—
For the Eagles to win the Super Bowl, they will need to get to Tom Brady in the pocket. It’s no secret that when Brady has underperformed on Super Sunday, it has been because of the pass rush from opposing defenses. The defensive line such as Vinny Curry, Fletcher Cox, and rookie Derek Barnett will need to consistently provide havok. For New England, shutting down running backs LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi will be key. Like most teams, the Eagles will use the ground game to set up the play action passing game for Foles.
One concern I have for the Patriots is their lack of pass rush. In their previous two games, opposing quarterbacks have had plenty of time to throw. If that trend continues and pass rushers Kyle Van Noy and Trey Flowers can’t produce, look for the Eagles to move the ball with relative ease. On offense, the Eagles need Foles to continue his turnover-free streak and stay poised. Tight end Zach Ertz will need give Foles a red-zone threat along with Alshon Jeffery. The Pats formula to keep Brady clean is their stable of passing catching backs in James White, Rex Burkhead, and Dion Lewis. With wide receiver Brandin Cooks ability to take a top off a defense, the Eagles will be forced to cover a wide variety of weapons on Belichick’s squad. The Eagles have struggled with covering double moves so their defensive backs will need to be very cautious. This game will be quite the chess match.
X-Factors to watch:
Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots
There is something special about Danny Amendola in the playoffs for the Patriots. He isn’t a high-volume player statistically but he seems to have a knack for big receptions in the big moments. He has two career Super Bowl touchdowns and I expect Amendola to snag another one in Super Bowl 52. He plays the majority of his snaps as a slot receiver so he will be matched up against Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson, who has been one of the Eagles key contributors on defense during the offseason.
Corey Clement, RB, Eagles
Philadelphia’s undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin has been used sparingly throughout the season. When he steps into the game, Clement seems to provide a major spark to this offense. Clement is third in line to receive carries behind
Blount and Ajayi. However, with his limited work, he still managed to scrum up a three touchdown performance earlier in the year. I expect Clement to make the most impact through the air. The Patriots have struggled covering running backs out of the backfield throughout the course of this season. If the Eagles can lull the Patriots defense asleep with a ball-control, power attack with Blount and Ajayi and then give Clement a few screen passes out of the backfield, Philadelphia should be able to move the ball effectively.
- Both Eagles TE’s, Zach Ertz and Trey Burton will catch a touchdown
- Nick Foles leads a game-winning touchdown drive
- Trey Flowers records a safety in the Super Bowl
- Brandin Cooks breaks record for longest receiving TD in a Super Bowl
I have always believed in the old adage that “defense wins championships.” The Patriots have never fielded an elite defense. They have been an opportunistic bunch though (see Butler, Malcolm). In addition, they have allowed an NFL best 14.4 PPG since Week 5. On the other hand, the Eagles haven’t allowed more than ten points in five games. Tom Brady will certainly end that streak but Philly should be able to provide enough pressure to force Brady into a mistake or two. In what should be a close contest, look for an unheralded receiver to make another miracle reception, per usual in a Patriots Super Bowl. Mack Hollins and Trey Burton are good candidates. The past couple of Super Bowl games have been all offense. Look for Philadelphia and New England to change that. Overall, the Eagles will ride the momentum of Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick Foles redemption story and a tenacious defense to upset the Patriots and give Philadelphia their first Super Bowl win in franchise history. Fly Eagles Fly!
Super Bowl MVP: Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia
As a sports fan, it is hard to see the Pats back in the Super Bowl. They have won the last two AFC Championships and several more in the past decade. In addition, they have added five Super Bowls to their collection. Now, the Pats have one of their best offenses statistically in franchise history, leading the NFL in yards per game. Brady is the favorite to win the NFL MVP award, which is given to the NFL’s top player of the season. On the other hand, there are the Philadelphia Eagles who burst onto the scene with a 10-1 start. After Carson Wentz went down, many began counting them out, and they were labeled as underdogs in two straight weeks. Nick Foles looks confident, and the Eagles have shown that they can protect him consistently. As for my pick, it is a tough one to call. My head tells me to say New England for obvious reasons, but my gut says to pick the Eagles. Philadelphia is a city that has been starved of a championship for a long time, and I think the Eagles will come ready and eager to bring home the trophy. Therefore, I am going with my gut and taking the Eagles in an instant classic.
Super Bowl MVP: Malcolm Jenkins, S, Philadelphia
X-Factor to watch:
Pass Rush, Eagles
It is simple, to beat Brady, you need to be able to pressure him with a 3 or 4 man rush for the entire 60 minutes. The Jaguars pressured Brady for the entire first half, but the pass rush was nonexistent in the second half, and they allowed the Patriots to weasel back into the game. The same thing happened to the Falcons last year as well. If the Eagles want to be able to beat Goliath, they will need to apply pressure. I think they are more than capable with Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, and Fletcher Cox. If they do, the Patriots offense will crumble.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
Gronkowski is the Patriots biggest threat on offense, and he is questionable for the Super Bowl because of a concussion sustained in the AFC Championship game. He is a matchup nightmare and the Eagles daunting task of stopping this offense will become a lot easier if Gronkowski cannot play. If he plays, Brady will have his security blanket. If not, the Eagles will be able to possibly dial up some blitzes without having to worry about double teaming Gronkowski. Gronkowski’s status will be huge in determining the outcome of this game.
- Malcolm Jenkins will intercept Tom Brady twice.
- Jake Elliott kicks a game-winning field goal as time expires to give the Eagles the victory
- James Develin records a rushing touchdown
- One of the Patriots running backs will lead the Patriots in receiving yards
This is the Eagles game to lose. Tom Brady is Tom Brady. Bill Belichick is Bill Belichick. Nothing will change the fact that the Patriots will do everything possible to ensure a victory. The Patriots have the advantage of experience. They are making their 8th Super Bowl appearance since 2001 and third in the last four years. There is no doubt that we are witnessing the greatest dynasty in NFL history. The Eagles without Carson Wentz have had some major ups and downs. However, after their 38-7 performance against the amazing defense of the Minnesota Vikings, it seems the Eagles are heading into the Super Bowl with the hot hand looking to upset the dynasty.
Ultimately, it comes down to the performance of Nick Foles. If Foles can perform like the greatest quarterback of all time did last week, Blake Bortles, then the Eagles have a chance. The underdogs, which has been symbolic of the Eagles postseason run, have to play nearly perfect. After witnessing that NFC Championship performance, I would not be surprised if they went to Minnesota and gave the dynasty a challenge. Despite these convictions, it is hard to believe the Patriots and their five Super Bowl dynasty will not do everything imaginable to win this game. I have the Patriots winning in a close Super Bowl that goes down to the wire just like every other Super Bowl the Patriots have competed in during the last 20 years.
Eagles rushing offense:
If the Eagles manage to have an effective run game, it will open up the passing game for Nick Foles and make his job much easier. Most importantly, it would allow the Eagles to control the clock and manage the game in their favor, something they desperately need to do if they want to have a chance against the 5X Super Bowl champion Tom Brady.
Patriots Red Zone defense:
One thing that NFL teams have learned over the years is that you can’t defeat the Patriots if you are not scoring touchdowns on every drive in the red zone. Settling for three points rather than seven will be the achilles heel of the Eagles. In order to have a fighting chance, the Eagles must take advantage of the power running of Blount and Ajayi and the run-pass option of Corey Clement to ensure touchdown opportunities.
Super Bowl MVP: The refs. Nope. Tom Brady of course. The 40-year old has shown no signs of slowing down and will have a great game against the solid pass defense of the Philadelphia Eagles.
- Nick Foles will have 20 rushing yards and a rushing TD
- Corey Clement will have 2 touchdowns
- Rex Burkhead will catch a touchdown in the 4th quarter
- The Patriots will run a tip pass for a touchdown to Brandin Cooks
As usual, we experience another Championship Sunday with one great game, and another blowout. This year, the young and elite defense of the Jacksonville Jaguars gave the Patriots dynasty everything they had. Blake Bortles played a great game, showing real promise and potential for the future. Leonard Fournette played well, especially being dinged up from last weeks Pittsburgh match. New England made their fourth quarter adjustments however, per usual. The Jaguars backed off of man defense, and switch to zone. This ended up hurting them in the end, as they gave space for the Patriots receivers to get open. Rob Gronkowski went down after taking a headshot, however, people expect he should still play in the Super Bowl.
Moving on to those Underdogs, the Philadelphia Eagles. This team can play. They went into this season with depth at literally every position, even quarterback, as former Pro Bowl Quarterback Nick Foles threw for over 300 yards passing and three touchdowns. The defensive line crushed Case Keenum, and the offensive line gave Foles plenty of time to make downfield throws. There is also a legitimate chance that the duo of LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi are the best running back pairing in the league.
How do they beat each other?
For New England, it is adjust to whatever the Eagles throw at them. The Patriots have to spread the field and get mismatches, like getting their running backs in an advantage with a linebacker. Or getting their quick receivers open. The next thing is to stop that run game from the Eagles. Nick Foles is great, but stopping that backfield from running all over the Patriots should come first.
For Philadelphia, offensively, a balanced attack is best. Keep New England on their toes, and don’t be afraid to take some shots downfield. This defense from Philly has a great secondary to boost. If they can play good man coverage and rush four guys at Brady successfully, they could win this game.
X-Factors to watch:
Kyle Van Noy
On defense, Van Noy will need to step up. He has to take control of the Patriots defense and step up in the absence of Dont’a Hightower. He will need to make key tackles, be able to cover, and read a pickup blitzes when necessary.
For offense David Andrews. The center for the New England Patriots needs to step up and call audibles when necessary against an aggressive Eagles pass rush.
For defense, Malcolm Jenkins is this teams best defensive back. He will need to be able to play successful man coverage against the quick receiving core of New England.
Offensively, it is going to be Jay Ajayi carrying the run game and keeping a weakened defensive line from New England on their heels.
Super Bowl MVP: Dion Lewis, RB, New England
- Patriots: Kyle Van Noy will have an interception and James Harrison will have three sacks
- Eagles: Nelson Agholor will have over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown in the first half and Jay Ajayi will lead both teams in yards rushing.