By Molly Atchison | Print Managing Editor
The New England Patriots are set to take on the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl LII at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
The powerhouse Patriots are, of course, projected to win with odds of -4.5 over/under 48, according to Bleacher Report’s most recent poll. However, after playing as an underdog in the NFC and overcoming an expected setback with the loss of star quarterback Carson Wentz, the Eagles have proved that anything is possible, and they are expecting to do the impossible this year. With a rowdy fan base and a country full of jaded Patriots dissenters, the Eagles are definitely a crowd favorite this year, for everyone who isn’t a Patriots fan at least.
Sadly, the fans alone don’t determine the results, although if enough of them throw a fit it might raise questions — see “Deflategate” 2015. The Eagles players are top notch and ready to rumble, but is it enough to take on quarterback Tom Brady’s squad and the Patriot’s infamously perfect play?
According to the NFL, this year’s stats are pretty intense. The Eagles only have six players with Super Bowl experience, compared to the Patriots’ 32. Brady has more passing yards than anyone in the NFL this year with 4,577 yards and has appeared in eight Super Bowls.
However, the Eagles and Nick Foles may be the perfect matchup for the Patriots. Foles, who ran away with the ball after Wentz’s injury, has been known to be inconsistent throughout his career, but this season has been an all time high for him and his No. 3 ranked offense. Also, Foles’ move through the 2016 season from backup quarterback to starter mirrors Brady’s move in 2001, which is the last time Brady was recorded as a backup quarterback. In the postseason, the Eagles are lacking a bit in total passing yards with only 584 to the Patriots 638, but both quarterbacks are strong, well-developed and completely capable of leading a team.
In terms of overall team strength, it’s hard to overcome the compatibility of the Patriots under head coach Bill Belichick. In this David and Goliath story, the Eagles have the best possible chance of taking New England down. Philadelphia’s defense is recognized by Brady himself as being the best the Patriots have faced all season, and the way the defense puts pressure on the ball is unparalleled. With leaders such as linebackers Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks holding the defense together, there will be little room for error on the Patriots’ line. The Patriots offense is nearly unbeatable, but the trade of running back LeGarrette Blount from the Patriots to the Eagles has given the Eagles an extra edge on the rushing offense, and superstar tight end Zach Ertz will be right there with Blount to keep the receiving yards up, keeping Brady and Belichick on their toes.
However close of a game this may be, the Patriots definitely have an outstanding track record, and will most likely be the most cohesive and flawlessly-trained opponent the Eagles have faced this season. Foles and Ertz, along with their all-star team, will need to be ready for whatever Brady might throw their way. The Eagles’ advantage is that their team is young, scrappy and hungry, and the rest of the world seems to be rooting for the underdog this time around. Brady’s chokehold on the Lombardi trophy has to end sometime, and the trial and tribulation-tested Eagles are the perfect team to knock the New England Patriots off their pedestal.