They’ve won two titles in this span and have a chance for their third next Sunday.
The Philadelphia Eagles are a bit more surprising, given that they lost starting quarterback Carson Wentz in December. Despite earning the NFC’s No. 1 overall seed, Philly was a long shot to make it through the NFC with backup Nick Foles leading the team.
But Foles has played really well in the playoffs and is a big reason why Philadelphia has a chance to win their first-ever Super Bowl.
Can the Eagles beat the favored Patriots? Let’s discuss the matter by looking at this game’s odds and analyze each team’s chances of winning.
Super Bowl 52 Odds (Feb 4 at 6:30pm ET)
Philadelphia vs New England Point Spread
Eagles +4.5 (-110)
Patriots -4.5 (-110)
Philadelphia vs New England Moneyline
Over 48 (-113)
Under 48 (-107)
Key Factors for Philadelphia
The biggest key for Philadelphia will be the play of quarterback Nick Foles. He’s experienced a roller-coaster ride since taking over for the injured Wentz, which included a poor three-game stint to end the regular season.
But Foles has turned things up in the postseason, boasting a 122 passer rating in two playoff games. This will be his third playoff start of the season, and fourth overall postseason start.
Foles was especially electric against the Minnesota Vikings, throwing for 352 yards and three touchdowns against the league’s top defense. It’s hard to see the Patriots’ defense really clamping down on Foles. But it’s up to him to avoid the erratic play that he showed in four regular season contests.
The Eagles have a strong running game that can help Foles out. Jay Ajayi, who was acquired in a midseason trade with the Miami Dolphins, has become the team’s lead back. He gained 99 yards from scrimmage on 21 total touches against the Vikings.
What makes Philadelphia tough to stop is that they have a deep backfield, with LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement coming off the bench. As a team, they ranked third in the league in rushing offense with 132.2 yards per game. Given that New England’s rushing defense ranked 20th by allowing 114.8 yards per game, this bodes well for the Eagles.
The strength of this team is definitely their defense, which was right up with Minnesota during the regular season.
The front four only managed one sack against Vikings QB Case Keenum. But they did hit him eight times, including one that directly resulted in Keenum throwing a pick-6.
Patriots QB Tom Brady was hit seven times and sacked three times against the elite Jacksonville defensive line. However, it’s also worth mentioning that this pressure didn’t shut down Brady, especially since he threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. How Philly’s pressure impacts Brady will be something to watch in the Super Bowl.
Few people expected Philadelphia to go into U.S. Bank Stadium and blow Minnesota of the water. But this is exactly what happened in a lopsided game.
If Foles can have a repeat performance of the NFC Championship game, then it’s very possible that Philly takes home their first-ever Super Bowl title.
Key Factors for New England
Even an age 40, Brady has been as good as ever. He completed 66.3% of his passes for 4,577 yards and 32 touchdowns during the regular season. All combined, this led to an outstanding 102.8 passer rating.
Jacksonville visibly slowed Brady and the Patriots’ offense in the first half. But he really opened things up in the last quarter, while leading New England two crucial TD drives in the AFC Championship.
It’s hard to beat Brady with the blitz, because he knows how to deal with the pressure. What makes things tougher is that New England always has a strong offensive line, which is why Brady was only the 21st most-pressured QB in the league.
The Eagles’ best chance to slow New England is by stopping their running game. The Jaguars had some success with this. But the league as a whole struggled to contain a multi-headed backfield that includes Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, James White, and Mike Gillislee.
Lewis is the big key here since he had 896 rushing yards (5.0 avg. per carry) and six rushing TDs during the season. White and Burkhead add a different dimension with their pass catching abilities, as they tallied 429 and 254 receiving yards, respectively.
The offensive weapons just keep coming for New England, because they also have a strong receiving corp that includes tight end rob Gronkowski and receiver Brandin Cooks.
Gronk led the team with 69 catches for 1,084 receiving yards. Cooks ranked second with 1,082 yards, along with a team-leading 16.6 yards per reception.
Gronk, who’s in concussion protocol, won’t participate in Super Bowl opening night. But he should be cleared by game time.
New England also features Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan. Amendola is especially dangerous, given that he caught two touchdowns against the Jaguars in the AFC championship.
The main question mark for the Patriots coming into the game will be their defense. This isn’t to say that New England has a bad defense, but it’s just not the best one they’ve brought to the Super Bowl.
Part of the problem is that the linebacking core isn’t the greatest, especially since Dont’a Hightower was lost due to injury. Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts have had trouble both stopping the run and in pass coverage.
Defensive lineman Trey Flowers is one of the team’s best defensive players. They also have tackle Malcolm Brown, who’s good at stopping the run.
But New England’s absolute biggest strength on defense is their safety tandem of Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung. McCourty is strong at covering deep balls, while Chung is one of the leagues-hardest hitting safeties.
I don’t have many reservations about New England’s offense, even against Philadelphia’s tough defense. But my main question is whether the Patriots can slow down Foles and/or the run. If they can do either, then Brady and coach Bill Bilichick will be celebrating their sixth Super Bowl win together.
Prediction on Eagles vs Patriots in the 2018 Super Bowl
Many people are writing the Philadelphia Eagles off just because of the Patriots’ previous success. But I certainly think that’s Philly has a chance in this game.
They have the edge in defense, and their running game matches up well when compared to New England’s. The one big department where they’re lacking is quarterback, especially when pitting Foles against Brady. Nevertheless, Foles has proven that he can step up to the occasion, like he did last week against Minnesota.
But to be honest, it’s hard for me to bet against New England on this stage. After all, the path towards a championship seems easier this year that it was last season.
Sure, they struggled to score points in the early going against Jacksonville. But then again, the Jaguars have the best defensive line in football.
I personally think that the NFC’s best chance of winning the Super Bowl died when New Orleans lost to the Vikings’ miracle 61-yard touchdown as time expired.
Nevertheless, this is going to be a close contest just like the one between New England and Jacksonville last week. That said, look for Brady and Co. To emerge from this one with a narrow win.
Final Score Prediction on Super Bowl 52: New England 23, Philadelphia 20 – The Eagles cover +4.5