To start off: I’ll go with the Patriots.
There has been a lot of conversation about the Eagles’ defense and how they can replicate the Giants’ plan to beat Tom Brady in Super Bowls 42 and 46. However, this isn’t the same New England offense as ‘07, and unlike when they played the Giants after the 2011 season, they will have a healthy Rob Gronkowski. But also, Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels, and Brady can all watch the tape of those games as well.
They can also watch the tape of the Giants’ games against Philly this year and look at what an injured and broken (but similarly constructed) Giants’ offense did to drop 919 yards and 53 points on the Eagles’ defense.
On the flip side, once I dropped the Patriots’ defense from my Fantasy team (which turned out to be a pox upon whoever was on it at the time), they quietly turned into the best scoring defense in the NFL. Can Nick Foles duplicate his performance from against the Minnesota Vikings? Can he do it after two weeks to think about the looming specter of The Patriots and potentially being under pressure to match Tom Brady point for point? That’s a tall ask.
There’s one final question: Can second-year head coach Doug Pederson not get “too cute” and let himself be out-coached by Belichick? Pete Carroll couldn’t do it, nor could Dan Quinn.
This game is going to be closer than you’d expect when you hear one team is starting Nick Foles at quarterback. Foles won’t be as effective as he was against Minnesota in the NFC Championship Game, but the Eagles have now had enough weeks with Foles under center to know how to game plan around him. The offense will be RPO (run-pass option) heavy to make sure Foles always has a “right” option. There’s going to be a lot of straight-up play-action, too — Philly tied for the second-highest rate of play-action passes in the league this season. The success of the Eagles offense will depend on whether it can convert inside the red zone. The Patriots had the epitome of a bend but don’t break defense. They ranked 32nd in yards allowed per drive, but ninth in points allowed per drive among defenses. Much of that was because New England allowed the second-fewest points per opponent red zone trip. They also had the third highest increase in turnover rate inside the 20 (1.7 percent) compared to the other 80 yards of the field (0.9 percent).
On the other side of the ball, Jim Schwartz is going to have to decide whether to blitz or not blitz and those early results will set the tempo for the game. If he does blitz, Tom Brady has quick strike options in Rob Gronkowski, Dion Lewis, and Danny Amendola. If they don’t blitz, the Eagles will have to get consistent interior pressure with Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan and that might be hard to do. Philadelphia is going to disrupt Brady, but how often is going to be the key.
The Eagles have the better defense, by a wide margin, but the Patriots have the better offense and special teams. That should give the edge to New England, but maybe not by much.
New England 27, Philadelphia 24
If you bleed blue, this is as bad of a SB matchup as we could get. I’m pretty much pulling for a great game and a double DQ in the fourth. I see the game playing out similar to the Patriots/Jaguars game, with the Eagles controlling the majority of the game. Then the inevitable Patriots comeback in the fourth, ending with a Brady Belichick hug on the 50. The saving grace is the Giants and Eli remain the only SB Patriot slayers.
Patriots 24 - Eagles 17
This game should favor the Eagles. They have more talent. They have the things that give the Patriots problems like a terrific pass rush and a balanced offense.
But the Patriots have two weeks to prepare for Nick Foles and I think they’ll force enough mistakes. This game will be close and I like the Eagles to cover the spread, but doesn’t it just seem like the Patriots always find a way to win these games?
Favorite prop bets. Will Terrell Owens being mentioned during broadcast yes (+150) no (-200)
How many times will Carson went be mentioned on broadcast over 3.5 (-160)
From our version of the ‘Friday Five.’
My head is saying the Eagles are going to give the Patriots a run for their money. The Giants, as we all know, twice used a general blueprint to beat the Patriots, and I think the Eagles have the personnel to execute that blueprint, which is to harass Tom Brady.
My heart, however, is hoping that the Patriots have an answer for what should be a tough Eagles defense and that by the time the confetti falls Sunday night, the Eagles Super Bowl trophy case remains empty.
I already gave this away in the “Friday Five” with Pat Traina:
I believe the Eagles have a chance here. They have the defensive line line to pressure Tom Brady with four rushers, like the Giants did in their two Super Bowl victories. They have the offensive line to perhaps control the time of possession.
Those things said, there is zero chance I am picking the Eagles here. First, they’re the Eagles! I’m not going there. The community members at Big Blue View would run me off my site if I did that.
Secondly, I’m not picking against Brady and Bill Belichick. They have had two weeks to figure out how to attack the Eagles, and you know they will have a great plan. I have to pick New England, because somehow they always figure it out. Besides, zero Lombardi’s is a nice number in the Eagles’ trophy case.
Patriots 20, Eagles 17