Super Bowl Preview: Can the Eagles pull the upset?
Super Bowl LII pits the old against the new — the veritable dynasty that is Tom Brady and the New England Patriots versus Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles. It has been thirteen years since the Eagles were last in the Super Bowl, after losing to none other than the Patriots in 2005. Offensively, the teams were neck and neck throughout the regular season, each averaging exactly 28.6 points a game. Both teams went 13-3 for the season, and both finished at the top of their respective conferences. Since the season began, these two teams have been on a collision course for the Super Bowl.
It is unfair to call the Eagles the underdogs. Although the odds are heavily in the Patriots’ favor, the Eagles have shown surprising resilience after the loss of starting quarterback Carson Wentz before the postseason began. Foles has thrown for 598 yards in two playoff games, and the Eagles boasted the third-best rushing offense during the season, proving themselves to be a double threat. In order to get the edge on the offensive juggernaut that is New England, Philadelphia must emphasize high scoring drives.
Foles has established himself as a competent back-up quarterback in the postseason thus far, including a dominant performance against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship, but there is little evidence from past regular season performances to back this up. He must be willing to shoulder the responsibility of leading the Eagles with renewed vigor, and must outperform one of the best quarterbacks in recent memory.
The Patriots, far and away a more passing-focused team, lead the league with the most productive offense, averaging 394.2 yards per game. The Eagles’ defense, ranked fourth in the NFL, will need to focus on shutting down Tom Brady and the Patriot’s offense early and often, especially tight end Rob Gronkowski, who averaged 15.7 yards per reception and led the Patriots with 69 receptions, and is coming off a head injury sustained in the AFC Championship.
The Patriots have become notorious for their late-game comebacks, and this perseverance will give them their best shot in defeating the Eagles. Championship experience is likely to come into play, as very few of the Eagles’ starters have played in a Super Bowl, and none as a member of the Eagles. The Patriots, however, have won five titles under head coach Bill Belichick, each secured by the performance of Brady. With two teams that have performed similarly throughout the year, this might be the edge the Patriots need to win a back-to-back championship, and what would be their third championship in four years.
The teams will go head-to-head at 6:30 p.m. EST on Sunday, Feb. 4.