Super Bowl Sunday AARs

Believe it or not, the big game is over. Tom Brady and the Patriots fell in defeat, while the Philadelphia Eagles celebrated their first Super Bowl victory, ever. And yet, we’ve heard nothing from our resident Eagles super fan, Riz. Quick Brad, call the cops, see if he was arrested for leading the ‘F*** Tom Brady’ parade on Monday! In the meantime, let’s check out the SportsIntel team’s Super Bowl Sunday AARs.

Super Bowl LII

Philadelphia Eagles @ New England Patriots; Line: Pats by 8.5

Outcome: Eagles 41, Patriots 33

Chris’s Pick:  Patriots 27, Eagles 24

Chris’s Breakdown: The number one seeded underdogs overtook the reigning Super Bowl champion Patriots. It’s kind of odd to think of the Eagles as underdogs, they were statistically one of the best teams this year and because of Carson Wentz and his stellar offensive play, they managed to finish 13-3 despite losing two of their last four regular-season games. Nick Foles was the x-factor heading into the Super Bowl, we were wondering if we were going to get the Nick Foles that lost 0-6 to the Cowboys, or if we were going to see the guy that dissected the Vikings in the NFC Championship.  On Sunday, he went toe-to-toe with Tom Brady and it was an offensive display that landed him the game MVP award.

Most of us thought Tom Brady was going to walk away with another ring and the unprecedented sixth Super Bowl win, finally cementing himself as the undisputed Greatest of All Time. If he had won his sixth, then he would have passed Joe Montana for most Super Bowls all-time, but the fact is, he lost. Still, Tom Brady at the age of 40, threw one of his best passing performances in recent memory and looks like a man 10 years his junior. The ageless one has committed to returning in 2018, and that means he’ll have another shot at six.

The Patriots as a whole were firing on all cylinders, they got production out of their receivers and their running backs, but their defense was nowhere to be found. Brad, Danny, and myself all pointed out how rough this secondary looked earlier in the season, and for awhile it looked like Matt Patricia had righted the ship, but they were sorely exposed against the Eagles and they never felt like a threat in this game. Despite the stellar performance from Tom Brady, we’ve now seen firsthand evidence of the impact this Patriots defense has on his ability to win a game, and it certainly makes me wonder what happens to Tom Brady when he doesn’t have a top-10 rated defense for most of his career. I’m also really curious to hear more about the Malcolm Butler situation and to know why their top cornerback might have been sitting out in the biggest game of the season, but it doesn’t look like I’m the only one mulling this over. Word is he was sick, but his twitter reaction after the loss and the rumors circulating indicate there might be more to the story.

In the end, I was disappointed by the lack of defense. An offensive torrent can be fun to watch, but without the drama of defensive plays being made, the game really just felt like whoever had the ball last would win. The Eagles came up with a single defensive turnover when it counted which was a nice look, but usually, when you give up the numbers they did to an opposing quarterback, that’s a quick loss. It was some ugly football in the end, but we’re talking about the Patriots and the Eagles in Minnesota. It all sounds pretty ugly to me.

Brad’s Pick:  Patriots 34, Eagles 20

Brad’s Breakdown: I have never been so happy to be dead wrong! The only thing I got (almost) right was the Patriots’ point total, which was the most points ever scored by the losing side in the Super Bowl. The Eagles’ front seven definitely didn’t terrorize Brady like we heard so much about prior to the game, but it did make the play that clinched victory. While I talked about preparation, it’s hard to say that either team was significantly more prepared since the offenses marched up an down the field for 60 minutes without much resistance. Foles and Brady seemed to always be throwing to receivers who were completely uncovered which helps explain the highest combined passer rating in the history of the Big Game (106.1 for Foles and 115.4 for Brady).

As I think back on the way things went Sunday, there are two elements of the game that I find myself increasingly pleased with:

1- There were only seven accepted penalties for 40 total yards and video replay didn’t produce an overturned ruling in a key moment, meaning that the zebras were mostly invisible which is the way it should be.

2- Doug Pederson called a fearless game as though he might never find himself in the Super Bowl again. It wasn’t perfect, but he made sure that he wasn’t going to walk away wishing he had done more. The Eagles punted just once. They were 0 for 2 on two-point conversions, but 2 for 2 on 4th down including a play in which they allowed their backup tight end to throw the ball to the quarterback. I believe the way he coached inspired his players, who showed no signs of panic when they surrendered the lead for the first time in the fourth quarter.

It was a fantasy ending to a dream season for the Eagles and they deserve our respect for staring down the Evil Empire on the biggest stage.

Danny’s Pick:  Patriots 31, Eagles 21

Danny’s Breakdown: The Eagles won this game for a couple of reasons, but the biggest was coaching. Doug Pederson kept the Pats defense off balance all game. There was only one offensive play call that was a poor call and that is pretty remarkable. In the aftermath of the game there hasn’t been as much talk about how well Philly ran the ball as there has been about Nick Foles’ play. The ability of the Eagles to run the ball and consistently pick up positive yards put the Pats on their heels. I chalk a lot of this up to coaching and some of it to just how bad the Patriots defense is. The Eagles exposed a defense that was a sieve throughout most of the season while playing in a division with Josh McCown, Tyrod Taylor, and Jay Cutler at QB. A week earlier they struggled to stop Blake Bortles. This made Belichick’s decision to bench Malcolm Buttler that much more confusing. The greatest ever possibly out thought himself with that move.

As I mentioned in my prediction, the Patriots luck finally ran out. Nearly all Super Bowl champs get some lucky bounces along the way, but the Patriots seemed to be on an amazing hot streak when it came to calls falling their way. This was the first year that I can remember seeing fans openly wonder if NFL officials were fixing games on behalf of the Pats and a big reason for that was because every single iffy call seemed to favor the Hoodie. I don’t really believe in conspiracies and I didn’t see the Patriots luck continuing. I believe the officials made the right call on both the Ertz and Clement touchdowns but I understand those who disagree with the later.

I did find an interesting narrative in how this game matched up against Brady’s first championship. The all-pro QB with a high flying offense vs. a back up and an over achieving supporting cast. In both games the underdog won in almost shocking fashion while being outplayed by their super star counterparts. Brady has had an unbelievable run, but if this is the last time he takes this stage, it will have been an interesting way to go out.