Super Bowl Sunday has finally arrived, so who will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy when it’s all said and done? Will Bill Belichick and Tom Brady add another chapter to their storied dynasty or will the Philadelphia Eagles win their first Super Bowl in franchise history behind backup QB Nick Foles?
For the Eagles, many thought their season was over the minute that starting QB Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending torn ACL, but they have relished their underdog role as the season has progressed. After playing as an underdog in both the divisional round against the Atlanta Falcons and the championship round against the Minnesota Vikings, Philly knows all about being doubted as they come into the Super Bowl as a 4-point underdog once again.
To no one’s surprise, the Patriots are back on football’s biggest stage despite some early season struggles. Many hoped that after falling to the Chiefs on opening night, that this was the year the Patriots looked mortal, but those hopes faded as the wins stacked up. The Pats defense was the focus early on, but after giving up 30 points in three of their first four games, NE’s defense finished the season as one of the top-5 defenses in the league. With one of the greatest QB’s of all time running the show on offense, it’s difficult to bet against the Patriots.
Super Bowl 52 will be all about the matchups, and if the Eagles can exploit enough of them, they will have a chance to keep it competitive and maybe win the game. Mississippi State fans know all about how dominate DL Fletcher Cox can be, and if he can have a big day, he gives the Eagles a fighting chance. Teams that have beaten the Patriots in recent years (like Von Miller’s Denver Broncos) are able to get pressure on Brady throughout the game. Cox and rookie Derek Barnett have the ability to just that against a Patriots offensive line that isn’t impenetrable. In the early going of the AFC Championship game, the Jaguars were able to run the ball effectively against the Patriots defense. The Eagles have Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount sharing carries, and they could be key in keeping the Eagles moving, and more importantly, keeping Tom Brady off of the field.
While the Eagles hold favorable matchups, the obvious mismatches in this game are in two crucial areas: the coach and the quarterback. In these areas, the game clearly favors Belichick and Brady. Even if the Eagles are able to jump out to lead and hold it throughout the game, when the Patriots’ combo of coach and quarterback are on the field, the game truly isn’t over until the clock strikes :00 as the Falcons learned in last year’s epic Super Bowl. Also working in NE’s favor is TE Rob Gronkowski being cleared to play (concussion), and that opens the Pat’s gameplan up and adds a layer of stress for the Eagles. Surrounding Gronk is deep threat Brandon Cooks, and dangerous receivers like Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan who are both able to find soft spots in opposing defenses.
So, who are you taking to win Super Bowl 52? And if you’re not going to be into the game, there’s something for everyone with new commercials, Justin Timberlake’s halftime show, along with the food and booze at Super Bowl watch parties, so enjoy the game (and be sad that football season is over)!
Kick off from Minneapolis is set for 5:30 p.m. on NBC.