By Danny Cox
Super Bowl LII is set to pit the two best teams in the NFL against one another, and it really does seem as if things aligned perfectly this year. The New England Patriots are ready to take on the best team from the NFC in the Philadelphia Eagles, and they’re doing it after so many thought they wouldn’t be able to. Some injuries and mishaps along the way didn’t stop the Eagles from playing well, but it added a touch of mystery to the fact that they’re doing even better.
Philadelphia Eagles Season Record: 13-3 regular season, 2-0 postseason
During the regular season, the Eagles lost a mere three games. One was to the Kansas City Chiefs when they seemed like the team to beat in the AFC. The other two were in the second half of the season, first to the Seahawks and then to Dallas in a rather meaningless season finale.
Since then, the Eagles squeaked by with a win against the Atlanta Falcons in the Divisional Round and absolutely decimated the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game.
Eagles on Offense
When Carson Wentz went down with an injury in early December, everyone assumed the magical season of the Eagles was officially over. The team came out a bit sluggish in the final few games of the season and then barely made it past Atlanta in the Divisional Round. Then, they came out and destroyed Minnesota thanks to the arm of Nick Foles and the legs of Jay Ajayi.
This offense is centered around virtually everything and that is what makes them so scary. There is not a lot of tape to watch on Foles, but he’s playing as if he’s been on the field the entire season. He has numerous targets in Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffrey, and Nelson Agholor, who all know how to find the end zone—and how to find it often.
Throw in Ajayi and former Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount and the Eagles are a well-rounded offense that merits a lot of attention.
Eagles on Defense
Defensively, the Eagles have a strong secondary that will force Tom Brady to be on top of his game in the decision-making department. Malcolm Jenkins, Patrick Robinson, Rodney McCleod, and Jalen Mills had 12 interceptions between them in the regular season and they are a crop of huge ballhawks.
Philly doesn’t have a massive pass rush, which could work in favor of the Patriots if they can get Dion Lewis going early in the ground game.
Eagles Players To Watch: QB Nick Foles and DE Brandon Graham
Nick Foles hasn’t played a lot since re-joining the Eagles, but he has played well. He has three touchdowns in the playoffs and has thrown just two interceptions in seven games this season. If there was any doubt that Foles could play at a high-level in the big games, all you’d have to do is watch his performance against the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game. It’s hard to know just how to defend against a quarterback when no one has seen everything he can do.
While the Eagles don’t have a huge pass rush, Brandon Graham is one of the brights spots of the Eagles’ front seven. During the regular season, he had a career-high of 9.5 sacks and seems to get better with age. Graham is a strong force on the defensive line of the Eagles, and he will likely require some double-teams on Sunday.
Defeating the Philadelphia Eagles and capturing another Super Bowl title is not going to be an easy task for the New England Patriots. Philly has a lot of veteran leadership on both sides of the ball and they have talent that is willing to listen and do what needs to be done. Adding in a touch of mystery and the unknown with the Eagles’ current offense is frightening, but the Pats have what it takes to defeat anyone that stands before them. Every single member of the New England roster just needs to play a solid 60 minutes of their best football and the Lombardi Trophy will belong to the Patriots.