The New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles have made it to the big dance. While controversy surrounds each team, let’s take a look into the on-field aspects of Super Bowl LII and what’s to come.
There are many phases to the Super Bowl. Whether it be the Pats’ dynamic offense facing that stiff Philly defense or who has more pressure on them, we’re going to see what all is in store for the historic final football game of the NFL season.
Tom Brady leads another dynasty stereotype squad
This is the game almost every football fan expects the Patriots to get to. The Brady/Bill Belichick Era has now produced eight Super Bowl appearances. Looking for their sixth win together, this may be one that the Pats have a great deal of trouble with.
There is however an easy solution that the Pats can use to win this game.
Brady is a machine, the G.O.A.T., whatever you want to call him. He’s elite and there are very few ways you can beat him. Brady hasn’t thrown an interception against a house blitz in over a decade (2006). That’s not all though. Brady has 49 career game winning drives and 38 fourth quarter comebacks. That’s not something you see often, as the next best active quarterback is Matt Ryan with 33 and 25, respectively. You can’t blitz Brady, and you better hope he doesn’t have the ball late in the game — he’ll show you what he’s made of. How does Brady make all of this happen?
While he is probably the most clutch quarterback in this era, Brady also has help from an underrated receiving group and running back corps.
With four running backs reaching 100 yards this season (led by Dion Lewis at 896), the Patriots have a run game that should keep you concerned. They won’t run the rock 30 times unless Lewis is getting 20-yard chunks every rush. However, that doesn’t mean the Eagles don’t have to commit to the run.
That brings up what the Eagles need to be wary that if they stretch too far into the run: Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks are likely to torch the corners of Philadelphia which won’t help Nick Foles and his offense at all.
The Patriots have a stout offense led by their franchise quarterback Brady. Their defense is lacking in some areas but Stephon Gilmore’s play in the secondary and Kyle Van Noy’s play in the middle of the field has helped this struggling defense. If Philly wants to beat New England, its going to have to put up numbers and keep this defense on its heels at all times.
Foles has weapons, but the Eagles’ best attack is their defense
It’s no secret that Foles is no Carson Wentz.
Be that as it may, he has slid into Doug Pederson’s offense like a glass slipper. Foles has implemented himself with a 5:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio along with 537 passing yards. Those numbers won’t pop off to any average fan, but things have bode well for Philly after Foles stepped in during Week 14. He’s acclimated to the system and gave the Eagles a fighting chance to win games behind his lead. The offense isn’t the concern today, however.
The Eagles defense is going to have to show out. There’s multiple things Philly needs to do defensively in order to succeed come tonight.
The first part to Philly’s defensive play style needs to be pressure, but not just any pressure as it is Tom Brady you’re trying to get to. The Eagles need to be able to get to Brady with only four rushers. Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Nigel Bradham and Chris Long have to step up and get to Brady by themselves if the Eagles are to even have a chance. The teams that the Pats lost to this year, (Chiefs, Panthers and Dolphins) all were able to get to Brady with four rushers and disrupt his throwing to force turnovers.
The second phase of this defensive strategy is the secondary. Mychal Kendricks and the cornerbacks have to hold down the middle of the field against Gronk and the other receivers as the Pats love the slant-and-go looks for attacking defenses.
Throughout the season, Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby have made and lost their money on being aggressive. The thing is, most people would tell them to back off and play the game safe, but that might not be the best option.
Mills and Darby need to be pressed up against these receivers and make them beat them. If they play back on the ball, Brady will tear them apart. If the Eagles want to win, being the more physical team on the outside and inside will be the key to knocking down the Patriots.
While the Eagles stand as underdogs, I think this game is a lot more even than people are giving it credit. The Eagles are going to come out swinging and will not let this game go without putting up a fight.
Will that be enough to take down the Patriots? I don’t think so.
Brady and Belichick have made an unstoppable dynasty in New England and they just know how to win.
Patriots 33, Eagles 24