New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl Preview

Jordan Hunter

Eagles. Patriots. The big game next weekend in Minneapolis is set. The “dynasty” versus “underdogs.”

The underdog label is kind of played out. Yes, the Eagles are playing without one of the top MVP candidates in Carson Wentz. But they still have a great defense that includes three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, two-time Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins and a host of other defenders that have overachieved this season. They also received offensive reinforcements in the offseason with the signings of wide receivers Torrey Smith, Alshon Jeffrey and running back, New England Patriots castoff, LaGarrete Blount. Although they don’t have their most important player, the Super Bowl should be the first and only game they are considered “underdogs.”

Eagles OT Lane Johnson wearing the ‘underdog’ mask. Source: Sports Illustrated

The only reason many people are writing Philadelphia off in the big game is because they are facing a team notorious for winning Super Bowls and boasting arguably the best quarterback and head coach in league history. Tom Brady has manned the quarterback position for the Patriots since 2001 and led them to five Super Bowl victories. A win on Sunday would make Brady the only player with six rings. There would be no doubt that he would be the greatest player of all time, or the “GOAT” as it is commonly referred to now.

Robert Kraft, no pun intended, crafted one of the best dynasties in all of sports and always puts his fans in a position to expect success every year. This year was no different. Even though the Patriots started the season at an unimpressive 2–2, they were still favored to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. It is because the Patriots have dominated the AFC in a way that cannot be compared.

Robert Kraft, Tom Brady and Bill Belichik at a Boston Red Sox game after the 2015 Super Bowl. Source: Sports Blog

The Eagles will put up a valiant fight. This will not be a cake walk. With the multi-pronged rushing attack of the Eagles, if the Patriots get down late, they may not be able to come back. New England did limit Leonard Fournette to just 76 yards on 24 carries, but the thunder and lighting combination of Blount and Jay Ajayi is a different beast. The Patriots usually do a good job of suppressing the running backs and forcing the quarterback to beat them through the air. Bill Belichik and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia will have no problem allowing Nick Foles to try and beat them with his arm as they did last week with Blake Bortles.

Any quarterback matchup favors Brady because the Patriots offense caters to the type of throws he can make at this point in his lengthy career. Rob Gronkowski is a matchup nightmare and basically unguardable. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks has developed into the trusty, every-down wide out that Randy Moss was 10 years ago. Danny Amendola, who came up huge in the AFC Championship with two touchdowns, took over for the injured Julian Edelman as the shifty slot receiver position made famous by Wes Welker. Dion Lewis has proven to doubters that he can carry a running back load.

The Patriots are not world-beaters. They have their flaws, namely the run defense and lapses by the secondary. But they are on a major roll, having won 13 of their last 14 games. If they were going to lose a game in the postseason, it truly should have been against Jacksonville in the AFC Championship. Brady and Co. will not make the same mistakes twice. That is what makes the Patriots so dangerous and favorites to repeat as world champions. The Eagles had a spirited run and could very well be back next year at Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. But this year will demonstrate yet again why the NFL is the Patriots league and the other 31 teams are just waiting in line.

Prediction: Patriots 27, Eagles 17

Tom Brady celebrating Super Bowl 51 victory. Source: Entertainment Tonight

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