The Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots will play for NFL supremacy on Sunday in Super Bowl 52. Both teams have shown a determination and a will to succeed all season. With high flying offenses and hard nose defenses, we should be in for a great game.
Keys to the game:
The Eagles have been stellar throughout the NFC side of the playoffs. They steamrolled their way to the Super Bowl, outscoring their opponents 53-17 in two games. Philadelphia has been using the passing attack more than expected with backup quarterback Nick Foles. They should continue that trend and keep attacking the Patriots defense.
This post-season, the Eagles have employed the run-pass-option to perfection. It will come in handy versus New England, who will be trying to sniff out every play before the snap. Using short passes that are five-to-ten yards from the line of scrimmage will put the wrong New England defender in coverage. This will create holes in the run game as well. The fact that they can employ three or four backs, gives them an advantage not too many teams have. Keeping a fresh runner on the field counteracts New England’s ability to substitute on defense. It’s also a necessary for the Eagles to score touchdowns in the red zone and not settle for field goal. Second half scoring will be key since the Patriots are known for their comebacks, especially in the playoffs.
The defense will have its work cut out for them. Like Philadelphia, New England has a few running backs at their disposal. Stopping the run plays at the line of scrimmage will be the key. The less options they give the Patriots the better. New England are at their best when they are rotating running backs, which makes it important for the Eagles to keep an eye on the running backs catching the ball out of the backfield, especially on third downs. The formula to beat New England has always started with pressuring the quarterback. Rare mistakes made by Tom Brady (usually) comes from pressure right up the middle.
New England should come out and try to establish the run right away. With the Eagles depth to be able to mix and match defensive lineman, attacking them early and getting them winded will help later in the game. New England does a good job of prolonging drives with short yardage plays and converting on easy third downs. Taking deep shots early can create openings In the short game. The Eagles have bottled up the pass in recent games but that shouldn’t deter the Patriots from airing a couple deep passes. The edge receivers like Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan should see a few more one-on-one matchups in this game, and they need to win. Philadelphia will not make too many mistakes on defense.
On defense, New England will have to stop the run, point blank. When the Eagles attack, they come with ferocity. The Patriots have to gang tackle Philadelphia’s offensive weapons and make the hits count. The Eagles have the ability to turn short yardage plays into long touchdowns, so the Patriots secondary have to keep an eye out, come up and stop plays early. It’s imperative that New England bring pressure from the edges. Against a dictating offense, they should be the initiators, blitz often and force Philadelphia to make snap decisions.
The X-factor for New England is Danny Amendola. With the Eagles focussing on the sidelines and tight end Rob Gronkowski, Amendola should find holes in the Philadelphia secondary. Amendola will be a hot target, especially on third downs.
The X-factor for Philadelphia is defensive end Brandin Graham. New England will want a clean pocket for Tom Brady. With Flether Cox and Timmie Jernigan getting most of the attention, Graham should have one-on-one match-ups all game. Those are battles he should win.
You have to go with experience here. Patriots 30-23 over the Eagles.