Super Bowl Sunday, arguably the most popular unofficial holiday in America, is finally upon us. This year’s Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles will be one for the history books. New England’s franchise quarterback, Tom Brady, has the opportunity to win his 6th Super Bowl, the most in NFL history. On the other hand, the Eagles have a chance to end their Super Bowl drought and win their first ever Lombardi Trophy. Even if the game didn’t have such a historical backdrop, it would still be an exciting match-up. The Eagles and Patriots were both the #1 seed in their respective conferences. Each had a top 5 defense in points allowed per game and their offenses were tied for 2nd in points scored per game. Despite the teams’ relatively even matchups, there are still advantages that each has over the other.
Rushing Game: Eagles
The Eagles’ rushing game is far superior to the Patriots’. Led by their two headed monster, Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount, the Eagles averaged the 3rd most rushing yards per game, and had the most 20+ yard runs throughout the season. Ajayi and Blount are both big power backs who are capable of helping the offense chew large amounts of time off the clock. The Patriots backfield, on the other hand, is composed of smaller speed backs. Dion Lewis and Mike Gillislee are more suited for quickly busting long runs and are legitimate receiving threats out of the backfield. Nonetheless, the Eagles have the better run game. It will be a vital part of their offense in the Super Bowl, given they are starting back-up quarterback Nick Foles, and want to keep Tom Brady off the field as long as possible. Expect the Eagles to run it down the Patriots’ throats until the Pats prove they can stop the run game.
Passing Game: Patriots
This one is a no brainer. The Patriots have Tom Brady, arguably the best quarterback of all time, behind center, while the Eagles have back-up quarterback Nick Foles filling in for the injured Carson Wentz. This is not a knock on Foles; he has performed extremely well since taking over for Wentz, but he is no Tom Brady. In addition to Brady’s pure talent, he has more than capable receivers around him: speedster Brandin Cooks, sure handed Danny Amendola, and the ever dominant Rob Gronkowski. Brady has proven time and time again that he will shred any defense, even if he is without a talented receiving core. Given that Brady has a talented core around him, and a supernatural knack for performing his best when it counts the most, the Patriots passing game will be firing on all cylinders come Sunday.
While both teams have top 3 defenses, the Eagles have the statistical edge and are more battle tested. The Eagles D, in the playoffs alone, held the dynamic Falcons offense to just 10 points in the NFC Divisional round and the Vikings offense to a meager 7 points in the NFC Championship. While the Patriots managed to hold the Titans to just 14 points and 267 total yards in the AFC Divisional round, they surrendered 20 points and 374 yards to the Jaguars in the AFC Championship. There is no doubt that the Eagles defense had the tougher offensive opponents, thus making their performance even more impressive. However, the Patriots offense is a completely different challenge. No other opponent can compare to how lethal the Patriots offense is when they are firing at full speed. The Eagles defense will have their work cut out for them.
This is the year Philly fans get their championship. The Birds came heartbreakingly close to winning it all in the 2005 Super Bowl, in which they also faced Tom Brady and the Patriots, but fell victim to an iconic Tom Brady comeback. 2018, however, will be different. The Eagles have the better defense, they have an absolutely dominant rushing game, and they have an elite air attack, even with Nick Foles at quarterback. While the Patriots also have a stout defense and the better overall offense, the Eagles will find a way to win. Many doubted they would win a single playoff game without Carson Wentz leading the offense, but despite this setback, the Eagles managed to outlast the Falcons, and demolished the Vikings in the NFC Championship. They have proven they are a force to be reckoned with, even without Carson Wentz. The Eagles have come too far to lose. They have a Super Bowl caliber defense and rushing game. Ultimately, their success will come down to Nick Foles taking care of the ball and not giving Tom Brady any extra chances to be on the field. Nick Foles and the Eagles have what it takes to finally bring the Lombardi Trophy to the City of Brotherly Love.