It’s that time of year – the Super Bowl is finally upon us and the big question is – can anyone stop the New England Patriots? The Philadelphia Eagles earned their way to the championship game with a stingy defense, a good running game and backup quarterback Nick Foles being terrific in the NFC Championship game. But is it good enough to defeat the defending champs? Let’s look at the matchups:
Patriots Defense vs Eagles Offense
The Eagles’ need two things to happen to beat the Patriots: one is that they have to disrupt Tom Brady and the other is the Eagles’ running game has to control the time of possession to keep the Patriots offense off the field.
The Eagles have 3 options at running back: Jay Ajayi can be considered the lead runner but they also use former Patriot LeGarrette Blount in short yardage situations and Corey Clement in passing plays. The Eagles have one of the best offensive lines in the league for rushing and the Patriots were 20th in the league against the run. So all the Eagles have to do is control the clock, right? Not so fast. The Jaguars also had a strong running game and controlled the clock but lost. For some reason in the 2nd half they got away from what was working and their offensive was ineffective. The Eagles need to keep being aggressive if they have a lead.
If the Eagles running game is going, they won’t need Nick Foles to win the game on his own. He has been very good in the playoffs, especially last game where he had 26 completions in 33 attempts for 352 yards and 3 touchdowns. Even in the 15-10 win against Atlanta, he had a quarterback rating of 100.1.
New England Offense vs Philadelphia Defense
What hasn’t been said about Tom Brady? He was just named NFL MVP, he’s the greatest quarterback ever, he’s going for his 6th Super Bowl victory, blah blah blah. Everyone loves to hate the Patriots and Tom Brady but that’s because they’re so darn good! It’s good to have a villain, right? So how can the Eagles stop the greatest quarterback of all time?
The conventional wisdom is to put pressure on Brady. When Brady, or any other quarterback for that matter, is being pressured, he is less effective. But here’s the problem – send extra attackers on a blitz and Brady will quickly find the open receiver. The key is to apply pressure with just your defensive line. Easy, right? Actually the Eagles might be able to accomplish this. They have a deep rotation of players on the defensive line that play regularly. Their sack total of 38 in the regular season wasn’t high but they still were good at applying pressure on the quarterback.
The Eagles defense is very similar to the Jaguars – they both have good defensive lines but the Jaguars secondary is much better than the Eagles. The Jaguars defensive was effective against the Patriots offense, until it wasn’t. The Eagles will need keep the pressure on Brady so that he doesn’t exploit the secondary.
Three key factors in this game:
1) Adjustments – let’s say the Eagles do everything right – put pressure on Brady, use the running game to control the clock. It won’t matter because in the end the Patriots will find ways to adjust and overcome any problems. Heck, they were down 28-3 in last year’s Super Bowl and look how that turned out!
2) Been there, done that: The Eagles have little to no Super Bowl experience, the Patriots are here every year. This isn’t just another game – Justin Timberlake is performing, darnit!
3) Quarterbacks: If Carson Wentz was playing in this game, this would be a great matchup. No knock on Nick Foles; okay, actually this is a knock on Nick Foles. Unless he has the game of his life, I can’t see him outplaying the greatest quarterback to have ever lived.
Prediction: Patriots 23, Eagles 17
What’s your prediction? Leave a comment below.