Ladies and gentleman! We’ve arrived at the final stop of the Patriot’s playoff gauntlet tour – Superbowl LII. A couple weeks ago, we witnessed Tom Brady and the Patriots drive down the field late in the 4th Quarter to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 24-20.
Patriots vs. Eagles: Superbowl 52 Showdown
Danny Amendola continues to prove that he is not Tom Brady’s ‘side-dude’ with seven crucial receptions for 84 yards and two touchdowns. One of the touchdowns came late in the fourth quarter to put the Patriots up 24-20. Brandin Cooks showed up to play too, with 100 yards from six receptions. It was another day at the office for Brady as he threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns. Stephon Gilmore silenced the Jacksonville fan base with a clutch deflection towards the end of the game to seal the deal.
The Patriots have a date with the Philadelphia Eagles on Superbowl Sunday. Keep in mind, it’s an Eagles team without the promising Carson Wentz behind center. The Eagles walked away from a crime scene in Minnesota as they whopped the Vikings 38-7. Nick Foles played as if his life was on the line throwing for 352 passing yards and three touchdowns. Tight end Zach Ertz lead all Eagle receivers with eight receptions for 93 yards. Former Chicago Bear, Alshon Jeffery, caught two of the three touchdowns passes and racked up 85 yards along the way.
Does Defense Win Championships
Fans will witness a high powered Patriot’s offense against a stingy Eagles defense this Sunday. During the regular season, the Eagles defense ranked third in rushing yards allowed, had 19 interceptions and 38 sacks. Players such as Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Malcolm Jenkins and Ronald Darby have been challenging offensive coordinators all season. Facing the Eagles defense is like being colorblind trying to solve a Rubik’s cube.
On the flip side, the Patriot’s Defense will have their work cut out for them. The Eagles have an established receiving corps with players like Ertz, Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Torrey Smith. Not to mention running back, Jay Ajayi, who was acquired in a trade at the deadline with the Dolphins.
Here are the keys to a Patriots win:
Involve the Running Backs in the Passing Game
This isn’t a secret. Brady loves to throw the ball to his running backs. New England’s running backs combined for the second-most receptions (126) and receiving yards (957) in the regular season. Look for Josh McDaniels to cook up plays that’ll allow for a mismatch at the line of scrimmage.
In other words, Brady will look to find one-on-one coverage between an Eagles linebacker and a running back. Rex Burkhead and James White will be used heavily with screen passes and dump-offs, while Dion Lewis works up the middle.
Stop the Eagles Run Game
As we all know, Foles will be under center for the Eagles. Not Wentz, Foles. That is a huge difference. It’s like comparing a Lexus to a Toyota. Foles is the Toyota. It can get you from A to B, it’s reliable, but certainly not top-tier. If the Patriots can stop the shifty Ajayi, that leaves the Eagles no choice but to put the game in Foles hands.
As we’ve seen before, Foles is capable of lighting up a defense. But if the Patriots take away the Eagles bread and butter – the running game (Eagles finished third in rushing offense during the regular season)- there will be an immense amount of pressure on Foles to deliver a title to Philly. And in a game like this, you want a Lexus, not a Toyota.
Quick Passes, Slants, Bubble Screens
Creating space in the middle of the field for the small receivers like Amendola and Chris Hogan will open up the playbook for New England. Not only does this allow Brady to get the ball off quickly for short yards, but will also have the Eagles defense on their heels. They’ll have to respect the underneath routes all game and Brady will pick up on that. If the Eagles defense show signs of blitz or looking to counter underneath routes, Rob Gronkowski and Cooks will stretch the defense for long gains. They’ll never see it coming; like a pop-quiz.
As we conclude the final tour of this historic playoff run, the New England Patriots should leave Minnesota with smiles on their faces, the smell of champagne on their breath and another ring on their hand. It’s been an amazing ride, but the tour has come to an end. Final score prediction: 24-20- New England.