Super Bowl 52 has given us a matchup that fans outside the New England or Philadelphia areas seem to be struggling to find a team to cheer for. As is the case for most dynasties in sports, most fans root against the excellence. That is clearly the case for the New England Patriots. Trouble is, there has never been a ground swell for support for any team in Philadelphia, and the Eagles are no different.
Still, I think the general public will end up hoping Philadelphia will emerge as Super Bowl winners. People are just getting tired of the Patriots. Of the last 16 Super Bowls, New England has played in half of them, And they have won five of them. Yet, I sense this greatness is not celebrated. I sense that it is reviled. And that is the primary reason the Eagles will finally get some love. They are the lesser of two evils.
Philadelphia is a huge underdog and has never won a Super Bowl. That will be one storyline.
Another storyline is the difference between the two quarterbacks. On paper, and historically, the difference between Tom Brady of the the Patriots and Nick Foles of the Eagles is quite dramatic. Brady is regarded by most as the greatest of all time. Foles is the second best quarterback on his team behind Carson Wentz who went down with a knee injury late in the regular season.
My regular readers know I often go with the team that has the best player on the field. Therefore I am finding it hard to come up with a way for Foles and Philly to come out on top. But I think I have two things that need to happen for the Eagles to win their first-ever Super Bowl.
Foles is going to need to have a Brady-like moment and Philly has to put pass rush pressure on Brady. And there is precedent for both.
Foles is fully capable of great outings. Just ask the Minnesota Vikings. His performance in the NFC Championship was remarkable. And it was just four years ago when Foles threw 27 touchdown passes for the Eagles while only being intercepted twice. He is capable of winning this game. Keep this in mind. Foles completed 26 of 33 passes for 352 yards and three touchdowns against Minnesota in the NFC Championship Game. The Vikings came into that contest with the NFL’s best defense. New England’s defense, statistically, is not close to Minnesota’s.
It is common knowledge around the league that the blueprint to beat the Pats is to put pressure on Brady. Teams have to find a way to disrupt New England’s precision-like passing game. When the Patriots lose, Brady is often under pressure from opposing defensive fronts. And of all the teams in the NFC, the Eagles have the personnel to do just that. Kind of like the New York Giants did when they handed Brady two Super Bowl losses over the past decade.
It just so happens that the Eagles have been the best team in the league all year at generating pressure. I read this so I had to go look it up. They led the NFL with 271 pressures over the regular season, 27 more than the next-best team.
The Atlanta Falcons got to Brady early and often in last year’s Super Bowl before tiring late. Philadelphia’s defensive front is much deeper. They had seven players this season top 20 total pressures.
Saying all of this, I am still picking the Patriots. They always seem to find a way. I do think the Eagles are capable of beating the Patriots. They have the offense to score enough points and a defense that will trouble Brady at times. It would not surprise me if they jump out to an early lead. But the difference will, once again, be Brady. The best player on the field. And he may just do it again with a game-winning scoring drive.
And if you are one of the many viewers who are struggling to pick a team to root for, you can always root for a good game that comes down to the final play.
That being said. Go Eagles.
Tom Brady of the Patriots
Nick Foles of the Eagles