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Jan 31, 2018

Super Bowl LII Preview

Fresh off of being embarrassed by the Eagles and their fans in the NFC Championship game, Minnesota now has to play host to the thousands of Philadelphians who will be descending on their city for Super Bowl LII. While Draftboard is not able to host a contest for the Super Bowl because it is a single game slate, there is still a lot to talk about. The Eagles and the Patriots were both number one seeds of their respective conferences, but it is clear who the popular favorite is for this Sunday. The Patriots dynasty, with Brady and Belichick at the head, are heading to their 8th Super Bowl in 17 years and looking for their 6th win. This sustained dominance which includes 12 AFC Championship game appearances, is something we don’t get to see very often in sports. I don’t think there has been a truly comparable dynasty in sports since the Yankees won 15 AL pennants in an 18-year stretch from the late 40’s to the early 60’s. Hate the Patriots all you want, it makes sense, no one wants to watch the same team in the Super Bowl every year. But you do have to sit back and realize you are watching a truly historic team and one of the greatest player-coach combinations ever in Belichick and Brady. Do the Eagles have enough to outplay the Patriots for one game and bring home their first Lombardi trophy?

There is no doubt the Eagles have embraced their underdog role throughout the playoffs. They have been an underdog in every game, and they have played well with that chip on their shoulder. In order to beat the Patriots, they are going to need to make Brady uncomfortable. They are going to need to so with four pass rushers while allowing seven guys to drop back in coverage. Led by Fletcher Cox, the Eagles defensive line is fully capable of bringing that pressure, averaging just 12.7 fantasy points through the air to opposing quarterbacks this year. The question is can they sustain it. The strategy worked well for the Jaguars in the AFC Championship game, but they could not maintain it for 60 minutes. Brady eventually began to pick apart the Jaguars secondary, a secondary that looks better than Philadelphia’s.

On offense, the big question mark for the Eagles in Nick Foles. Foles is coming off of a game where he lit up a great Minnesota defense for 352 yards, three touchdowns, and a game-high 26.1 fantasy points, yet the public opinion still remains pessimistic at best. However, since taking over, Foles has essentially played four games (I am excluding week 17 against the Cowboys where he was replaced early by Sudfeld), has won all four, and his only real hiccup was week 16 in Oakland when he only completed 50 percent of his passes for 163 yards. Eagles coach Doug Peterson looks like he knows how to play Foles, and has integrated him into the system very well. With all of that being said, Foles is still the same guy who was on the brink of retirement three years ago, and we have never seen him on a stage like the Super Bowl.

Overall this game looks like it will be a close one. In the Patriots last seven trips to the Super Bowl, they have never scored in the first quarter, so don’t expect a blowout. This game could come down to the final minutes, and unfortunately for the Eagles, the Patriots have a pretty good track record of closing out games. Since everyone is spouting off predictions, I might as well put mine on paper, I’m taking the Patriots 27-24 with an exciting fourth quarter finish. 

Dan Quinn