Super Bowl LII Tale Of The Tape: New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles
- QuarterbackTom Brady is clearly in his element as he attempts to lead the Patriots to their sixth Super Bowl title. Brady threw 32 touchdown passes and eight interceptions during the regular season, and he has followed up with five more TD passes in the postseason. More than the numbers, Brady’s ability to make plays when the biggest games are on the line makes him an invaluable performer.It looked like the Eagles had put themselves at a major disadvantage at the start of the playoffs, because Nick Foles struggled so badly in the final two games of the regular season. However, he was much better against Atlanta and Minnesota, and he appears to be a confident quarterback going into the title game after throwing for 352 yards and three touchdowns in the NFC title game.
- OffenseDion Lewis is a dependable running back who averaged 5.0 yards per carry in the regular season, and he remains a key factor in the postseason. Danny Amendola is coming off a two-TD performance in the AFC title game, while Chris Hogan and Brandin Cooks are both big-play makers. TE Rob Gronkowski (concussion) has returned to practice and is likely to be a game-changing factor.Jay Ajayi has emerged as the Eagles’ primary ball carrier in the postseason as he has 33 carries in the postseason compared to 15 for ex-Patriot LeGarrette Blount. However, Blount’s power could have a huge impact in this game. Alshon Jeffery excels at winning the battle on 50-50 balls, while Zach Ertz has turned seven of his 11 postseason receptions into first downs.
- DefenseThe Patriots were brutal on defense through the first four games of the season, but they are much-improved since then. They have allowed 17 points or less in 11 of their last 14 games, and SS Patrick Chung (84 tackles, two fumble recoveries) is a game-changing tackler, while Trey Flowers (6.5 sacks) and Kyle Van Noy (5.5 sacks) are both solid pass rushers.The Eagles have been one of the best defensive teams in the NFL, ranking fourth in yards allowed. Philadelphia will come at the Patriots with an outstanding pass rush led by defensive end Brandon Graham (9.5 sacks). DTs Fletcher Cox and Chris Long are both capable of destroying Brady’s interior protection, while CB Patrick Robinson had four interceptions and 22 passes defensed.
- Special TeamsThe Patriots have had impactful special teams for years, and they were the third-ranked team in that category in 2017. Amendola and Lewis are outstanding return specialists, while Stephen Gostkowski made 37-of-40 FG attempts and Ryan Allen is an outstanding directional punter.The Eagles have had solid special-teams play for years, but they have slipped to middle of the pack this season. PK Jake Elliott has made 26-of-31 FG attempts, including 5-of-6 from 50 yards and beyond. Left-footed Donnie Jones has dropped five of his six punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
It’s difficult to believe that the Eagles will be able to get the best of the Patriots if this game is tight in the fourth quarter. Brady has come through too many times to doubt him, and that seems likely in this game as well.