Patriots Face Philadelphia Eagles In Super Bowl LII

Posted January 30, 2018 by Ross Wyszomierski in Sports
The final chapter of the 2017 season, Super Bowl LII. Photo Credit: charnsitr

“Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the New England Patriots are headed to the Super Bowl.” This was the opening line from my article last year at this time when the Patriots advanced to Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons and eventually went on to claim their fifth Lombardi Trophy as World Champs. Well, this year, New England is looking for more of the same … we just need to add one more Roman numeral.

The Patriots head to the “Bold North” in Minneapolis, Minnesota this week to compete in their NFL- record 10th Super Bowl. Their opponent? Similar to last season, they will face another “bird” from the NFC in the Philadelphia Eagles. This marks the second matchup between these two teams in the Super Bowl. Bostonians will remember that the Patriots defeated the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005 to claim their third title in four years.

The Eagles opened as the largest Super Bowl underdog since 2009 when Las Vegas listed the Patriots as 5.5-point favorites. This is a situation in which the Eagles are all too comfortable. It started in their Divisional Round game against the Atlanta Falcons when the Eagles found themselves underdogs at home to the defending NFC Champions. This also came after Philadelphia lost their star quarterback, Carson Wentz, to season-ending surgery and turned to backup quarterback Nick Foles. No one wanted to give them a chance. The team and the fans embraced the role, even so much so as to pour into Lincoln Financial Field wearing dog masks. The Eagles prevailed and found themselves underdogs again at home in the NFC Championship against the Minnesota Vikings. The Eagles again won in a decisive 38-7 victory proving to all the doubters that they do indeed belong in the Super Bowl. Philadelphia will embrace this underdog role throughout the week until the game and try to feed off it. New England coach Bill Belichick knows this too and he will have his players prepared as always, making them well aware that there are no guaranteed victories, especially in this game.

You could probably hear a pin drop anywhere in New England during a moment in the second quarter of the AFC Championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars when Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was slow to get up after a helmet-to-helmet hit from Jaguars’ safety Barry Church. Gronk left the game, did not return and was later diagnosed with a concussion. As I write this article, Gronk is still in the concussion protocol and there is no guarantee he will be cleared for the Super Bowl. He does have an extra week to get healthy and return with the off-week in between games, which should give Pats fans more hope. If Gronk can’t go for the big game, it would be a major loss. We all know Gronk is a beast on the field, a favorite target for quarterback Tom Brady and a matchup nightmare for any defense. There’s almost no telling how Gronk’s injury could play out given that everyone reacts differently to concussions, so fans will just have to wait until closer to game time.

When you dive into the offense vs. defense on both sides, two matchups stick out. The first: Pats offensive line vs. the Eagles defense. This is one of the biggest keys to the Patriots coming out on top. We’ve seen all season that when the offensive line does its job and keeps Brady on his feet while giving him time to throw, the passing game looks unstoppable. One Eagle specifically trying to put Brady on his back will be former Patriots defensive end Chris Long.

Another matchup to watch is how Matt Patricia and the Patriots defense contain the many weapons on the Eagles offense. Yes the Eagles’ offense will be led by a backup quarterback, but they have two dynamic running backs in Jay Ajayi and former Patriot LeGarrette Blount that wear a defense down throughout a game. Through the air, they have star wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and maybe the best tight end in the NFL next to Gronk in Zach Ertz. Together, the two have combined for over 1,600 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns on the season.

If the Patriots are able to win on Sunday night, they will take home their sixth Lombardi trophy – tying the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most in NFL history. Super Bowl LII will kick off at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 4 on NBC. Hopefully we can warm up the duck boats soon!