Super Bowl LII Preview

Posted on February 2, 2018

By Jordan Eghdamzamiri

         The big game has once again come, and it is yet another opportunity for the Evil Empire to win another championship.

         The New England Patriots, again in controversial fashion, have won the American Football Conference championship, with their tight win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, in a game that looked almost hopeless for the Patriots, following the fumble forced by Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack.

          The Patriots were counted out again.  They again pulled through, and proved once more that they are no strangers to fourth-quarter comebacks.

          But it is not like they have not already made themselves the kings of playoff comebacks, with their historic victory in Super Bowl LI, erasing the Atlanta Falcons’ 25 point lead in just over a quarter, to win their fifth Super Bowl in franchise history.

         No longer is New England the team whose backs are against the walls.

          It is now the Philadelphia Eagles.

          During the 2017 offseason, the Eagles made additions to their team that were seen by the general consensus as questionable.

          Signing Alshon Jeffery, a receiver who struggled with injuries in previous years, and LeGarrette Blount, a Patriot last season during their Super Bowl run were examples of the signings that the Eagles made to surround Carson Wentz, the number two pick from the 2016 NFL Draft, who struggled massively in his rookie season.

          With all of these question marks throughout their roster, Philly was not expected to have any type of success this season.  But those questions were put to rest when they took the NFL world over by storm with a season where Carson Wentz was running away with the MVP award.  All was going well for the Eagles heading into a Sunday Night Football game in Los Angeles versus the Rams.

          Then, hope seemed to be wiped from the season when, late in the game, tore his left ACL when attempting to dive into the endzone for a touchdown.  No hope was had when backup quarterback in his second stint with the Eagles, Nick Foles, was forced to relieve Wentz’s duties.

          It seemed to be another lost season for the number one seeded Eagles heading into their divisional round game against the defending NFC Champion, Atlanta Falcons.

          They once again proved the world wrong as they made a goal line stand in the Falcons’ final possession of the game and advanced to the NFC Championship game, where the next day, a miracle play determined that the Eagles were to face the Minnesota Vikings.

          The self-proclaimed underdogs truly saw themselves as the favorites and had full confidence in their abilities to pull off the win and give themselves the opportunity to compete for their win in the big game.  And the Eagles took their opportunity and ran away with a 38-7 victory.

          Now the Evil Empire is matched up against the Underdogs.

          The Patriots are the obvious favorites to win, but they can not simply overlook their opponents.  Brady, Belichick and company must prepare for an opponent who will fight until the final second of the game.

Patriots’ Keys to Victory:

          Besides the skill gap between the rosters of the Patriots and Eagles, as well as the coaching advantage that swings in New England’s favor, as Belichick will not be out-coached, the Patriots also have the recent experience of playing against a team similar to the Eagles, as they played against the Jaguars, a team with a questionable quarterback situation, reliance on a heavy run game, and a hounding defense.

          The Patriots’ keys on offense is to be able to attack towards the end of the second quarter, and into the third and fourth quarters, and to avoid turning the ball over.  The Patriots had seemed to be dead in the water when Myles Jack recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter when the Jaguars were up by ten.  They did make the comeback, but the Patriots should not rely on another multiple score fourth quarter comeback against the Eagles.

          On defense, the Patriots cannot allow the Eagles’ offense to get off to a hot start, and give Belichick and Brady relief when they do not put points on the board.  The Patriots have done a masterful job of stopping the run throughout the playoffs, and they are expected to clog the middle with James Harrison and Trey Flowers.

Eagles’ Keys to Victory:

          In order for the Underdogs to pull off one more improbable victory and win their first Lombardi Trophy, the Eagles must enforce the running duo of Jay Ajayi and former Patriot LeGarrette Blount towards the outside of the field.  The Patriots have done a great job of closing up the middle of the field, so a run attack to the outside should force Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to make mid-game adjustments.

          Also, Nick Foles will need to have a great game, and there is no way around it.  Philadelphia needs to get out to a lead early, and the game through the air either succeeding or failing will be the determination on whether or not the Eagles have a chance at victory.

          From the outside, it looks like a Super Bowl that may not be worth hyping up, due to the Patriots participating for a third time in four years against the short-handed Eagles without their franchise quarterback, but with a few plays going either way, this could be a Super Bowl that will be remembered for cementing the Brady-Belichick legacy, or possibly the upset of a lifetime.

 

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