The Super Bowl LII matchup is set, and on February 4th 2018 the Philadelphia Eagles will take on the New England Patriots at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to determine the NFL Champion. There is no shortage of storylines going into this game, it is a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX, when the Patriots beat the Eagles 24 – 21, which earned Tom Brady and Bill Belichick their third rings together. Now Brady and Belichick take on the Eagles again, this time going for their sixth rings together, and a sixth ring would give Tom Brady the most Super Bowl rings of All-Time earned by an active player (he is currently tied with Charles Haley at five Super Bowl rings). Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles have never won a Super Bowl, and their rabid fan base thirsts for the first Super Bowl win in franchise history. The Eagles are led by backup quarterback Nick Foles, who took over when the face of the franchise Carson Wentz was injured in a week fourteen win over the Rams, and seeks to become the first backup quarterback to win a Super Bowl since Jeff Hostetler in 1990. Without further ado, let’s break down the game, and give you our pick:
Philadelphia Eagles vs New England Patriots (-5) Entering the post season, I was not a believer in the Philadelphia Eagles, I did not expect them to win a game based on the struggles of Nick Foles in the team’s final two regular season games. I was shocked when the Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round, and while I thought the Eagles matched up better with the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship, I did not expect the Eagles to blow the Vikings out to the tune of a 38-7 final score. Nick Foles has gotten his confidence back in the playoffs, and the Eagles have a dangerous array of weapons who made big plays against a stingy Vikings defense, the much more vanilla Patriots defense should not be able to slow down the Eagles offense as long as Foles continues his strong play. The biggest advantage that the Eagles have against the Patriots is their excellent pass rush, which produced 38.0 sacks in the regular season, if they can pressure Tom Brady and throw off the timing of the Patriots offense they will have a chance to win the game. The only team to beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, the New York Giants who beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl twice, did so by constantly pressuring Brady with their devastating four man rush. I think the best bet on this game will be the over, I expect both teams to score points early and often, the Eagles have to remember that if they get the lead they must stay aggressive and not play safe. The last two teams to get big leads on the Patriots in the post season, the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI and the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2018 AFC Championship, played “not to lose” then blew the lead and lost the game. I expect the Eagles to make some big plays and score some points, and Tom Brady will realize early that he has to get rid of the ball quickly, to avoid getting hit by the Eagles pass rush and rushing throws. The Eagles will have the lead in the game, maybe even at halftime, and their fans will be feeling very confident that they are going to get their first Super Bowl win in franchise history. However as always, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will make adjustments as they always do, and will prove once again that no lead is safe. Brady will begin getting rid of the ball quickly to negate the Eagles pass rush, the Patriots will get back into the game at which point the Eagles sphincters will tighten, Nick Foles will show Eagles fans how much they really miss Carson Wentz and make one costly mistake and the game will end with Tom Brady getting his record breaking sixth ring.
NOTE: Eagles fans, I am (0-2) picking against you in the playoffs and (5-2-1) otherwise, so take some solace in that.
The Pick: Patriots (-5) Final Score: New England Patriots 34 Philadelphia Eagles 27
Over/Under Pick: OVER 48: Total Points Scored 61
Super Bowl MVP Prop Bets:
Tom Brady 4/5 odds: If the Patriots win the Super Bowl, you can bet that Tom Brady will be named Super Bowl MVP, unless the game is shocking low scoring or a defensive player scores a touchdown while coming up with several other big plays. If you like the Patriots to win the game, bet Brady to win MVP as well, and watch your profits increase.
Interesting Long Shots:
Jay Ajayi 18/1 odds: If the Eagles win the game, they will likely have to play ball control at some point to keep the ball away from the Patriots, which should lead to plenty of touches for running back Jay Ajayi. Betting on a running back to win Super Bowl MVP is always risky, Jay Ajayi loses short yardage carries and goal line work to LeGarrette Blount, while third down back Corey Clement also takes away touches. However, if the Eagles win it could be behind a monster rushing yardage total from Ajayi, which allows them to dominate time of possession and control the tempo of the game.
Fletcher Cox 40/1 odds: If the Eagles win the game, they are going to have to hit Tom Brady early and often, forcing Brady to rush passes and throwing off the timing of the Patriots offense. The best player on the entire Philadelphia Eagles roster is defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, who should absolutely dominate the line of scrimmage, and make life very difficult for the Patriots offense. If Fletcher Cox notches a couple of sacks, stuffs a few running plays behind the line of scrimmage and picks up a fumble then runs it back to the house he could be named MVP of the Eagles win.
Brandon Graham 200/1 odds: The best pure pass rusher in the excellent Eagles front seven is Brandon Graham, who led the team with 9.5 sacks, and if the Eagles are effectively pressuring Brady into sacks and mistakes you can assume Graham will have a big impact on that success. If Brandon Graham can record a few sacks, force a fumble, and scoop and score a fumble for a touchdown he could be named MVP of an Eagles win.