Super Bowl LII Game Picks
US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN
6:30pm EST on NBC (and streaming on the Yahoo Sports app) – Philadelphia Eagles @ New England Patriots; Line: Pats by 4.5
Commentators: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
There are dozens of reasons to pick the Patriots here, with two of the biggest being Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, but I believe the Eagles will win this game. If you are reading this and think I’m a crazy person, you’re entitled to your opinion, but just hear me out for a couple of paragraphs. The first reason that I’m picking the Eagles is their defensive front. Almost any team that has success against Brady does so because they can get after him with a four man rush. The Eagles have one of the better front sevens in football and a particularly deep front four. The ability to rotate in fresh bodies is a key. Specifically, I believe that Fletcher Cox is the second best interior defensive lineman in football (behind only Aaron Donald). Getting an interior rush is essential for disrupting the Patriots offense. The Patriots offensive line is not the best in football and can be taken advantage of.
The second reason I believe the Eagles will win this weekend is their offensive line and their RBs. Nick Foles will have to make some plays if the Eagles are going to hoist the Lombardi trophy, but the Eagles offensive line and the talents of Jay Ajayi and LaGarrette Blount can take some of the pressure off Foles, keep the defense off the field and shorten the game. Some of the Patriots’ recent troubles in the playoffs have come against less than stellar QBs. Joe Flacco and Eli Manning are solid QBs but no one is mistaking them for Aaron Rogers and Drew Brees. You don’t need an MVP under center to frustrate the “Hoodie.”
Finally, I think the NFC was substantially better than the AFC this year. The NFC had a ten game advantage against the AFC in 2017. Drew Brees, who had his best team in years, was unable to advance beyond the second round. The Falcons, who returned nearly everyone from their Super Bowl run a year earlier made it no further than the second round. This is a testament to how competitive the NFC race was this year. I believe that this will show through in the Super Bowl this year. And one more note: while I do not believe in conspiracies or think the officials are somehow engineering a New England Super Bowl victory, I do believe that the Patriots have had a series of fortunate calls and bounces of the football stretching back to last year’s Super Bowl and I don’t believe that it will continue. The Patriots have been on both sides of some of the wildest plays in history and it just feels like this is the game they fall back to the wrong side. Eagles 24, Patriots 21
I’m a big proponent of coaching and consistency. If a team lacks either one, they’re going to struggle when it counts the most. The Patriots have enjoyed both for a very long time. Many are talking about the success Tom Brady has had and that’s undeniable, but I’m as interested, if not more interested, in Bill Belichick’s ability to prepare 53 men for the grueling fight to the top, year in and year out. Tom Brady is consistently good, and something Belichick probably never has to worry about (outside of having a cultish trainer), but Belichick deals with the same team turnover and salary cap limitations as everybody else, and yet his rosters always seem to operate like a well-oiled machine.
The Eagles have been a great team all year, and I’ll admit I haven’t always given them the credit they deserve. This is football and because of that, we’re talking about a single game scenario. They have a chance to win this game on their defensive talent, but they’ll need another Nick Foles sighting for this to play out in their favor. He’s shown an ability to play big at times and we could see an ‘upset’ from this number one seeded team. Still, the edge in my book belongs to the consistently great and historic Patriots. Patriots 27, Eagles 24.
In the nearly two weeks since the conference championship games we’ve had a lot of time to think about how we expect this match up to play out. We have the number 1 seed from each conference leaving home for the first time since the regular season ended. The two squads are sporting identical 15-3 records since the end of the preseason back in August. In common games each team lost to the Chiefs while beating the Chargers, Falcons, Raiders, and Broncos. The only differing result? Carolina won at New England on 1 October but lost at home to Philly 11 days later on Thursday Night Football. What should we make of these games from four months ago? Probably nothing.
While I have partially bought into the increasingly popular idea that the Eagles’ front seven is going to terrorize Tom Brady, I don’t see any other area where Philly will enjoy an advantage. Bill Belichick loves to insist that playoff experience doesn’t matter and I couldn’t disagree more—no one prepares for these games like the Patriots do. The Eagles have demonstrated excellent preparation this off season as well, and Coach Pederson’s game plan will protect Nick Foles through the early going, but the magic runs out on Sunday around 8:40pm EST and the Evil Empire seizes control en route to a relatively easy victory. Patriots 34, Eagles 20