Super Bowl LII: 4 quick-hit thoughts on Patriots vs Eagles
The Patriots are considered the home team for this game and will get to choose their jersey color. The Eagles are considered the road team and will call the opening coin toss.
Kickoff is at 6:30 PM ET on Sunday, February 4th on NBC.
The Eagles don’t have starting quarterback Carson Wentz, but it might not matter
Philadelphia lost their starting quarterback with three games left in the regular season and he was replaced by Nick Foles who has been rather inconsistent.
Foles completed 63% of his passes and threw 4 touchdowns in his first start in the place of Carson Wentz against the New York Giants, but then combined for 23 of 49 for 202 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions in week 16 and the first third of week 17 before the Eagles put in their back-ups.
He was quiet in the divisional round but completed a respectable 77% of his passes for 246 passing yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. He did enough to lead the Eagles to victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
But then Foles erupted against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game in a nearly flawless performance. If the Foles that dominated the Vikings shows up for the Super Bowl, the Eagles could very well be the favorite due to their stout defense.
And if the Foles that bounced around the NFL from 2014-17 shows up, then the Patriots could win in a cake walk.
The Eagles have a top 10 offense
Other than Foles at quarterback, the Eagles have a pretty deep rotation of players on offense, even though they haven’t really produced much on an individual level. Tight end Zach Ertz leads the team with 824 yards from scrimmage, while Alshon Jeffery leads the team with 120 targets. Nelson Agholor has 775 yards from scrimmage and ranks third on the team with 95 targets, while Torrey Smith has 427 yards from scrimmage and ranks fourth on the team with 67 targets.
It’s clear that the Eagles don’t have the best completion rate to the outside and that they rely heavily on their production to receivers in the middle of the field (Ertz and Agholor) and with their running backs. Blount leads the Eagles running backs with 816 yards from scrimmage, followed by Ajayi with 499 and Corey Clement with 444.
There are a lot of players that can produce on this offense, but no one really seems to take over the game. The Eagles had only five 100+ yard games by a single player in the regular season (Blount in week 4; Ajayi in week 11; Ertz in week 12; Agholor in week 13; and Smith in week 14). For comparison, the Patriots accomplished that feat 10 times.
The Eagles aren’t the best at any facet on offense, but they’re good enough that the Patriots can’t simply expect to remove one player and stall the Philadelphia offense; there are too many pieces. They rank 3rd in the NFL in points scored and 1st in red zone scoring.
The Eagles have a top 5 defense
The Eagles are built to dominate on defense. They have four pass rushers capable of getting after the quarterback in addition to two great defensive tackles in Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan. They are also strong at linebacker with Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks capable of playing all over the field.
Philadelphia ranks 3rd in the NFL in DVOA against the run because of their strong defensive front seven and also 7th in DVOA against the pass because they have a strong secondary. There’s no real weak point anywhere on the defense because everyone is slightly above-average or elite at their roles.
Malcolm Jenkins is one of the best safeties in the league and he pairs well with Rodney McLeod. Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby as the starting cornerbacks, with Patrick Robinson in the slot and Rasul Douglas playing, too. Corey Graham comes in for heavier dime packages and he’s very versatile.
The Eagles rank 3rd in the NFL on third down defense and 5th in takeaway rate. They stop drives quickly and turn the ball back over to the offense. They rank 4th in the NFL in points allowed and 20th in red zone defense.
The Patriots and Eagles have very important players that spent time on both teams
The Eagles have running back LeGarrette Blount, pass rusher Chris Long, and linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill on the roster. Blount leads the running backs in snaps this year, but he’s technically behind Jay Ajayi in the depth chart because Ajayi was a midseason acquisition. Long is the third player in the Eagles pass rush, behind Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry, and ahead of rookie Derek Barnett. Grugier-Hill leads Philadelphia in special teams snaps.
The Patriots have running back Dion Lewis, who has been one of the Patriots most dynamic players on offense all year; wide receiver Danny Amendola, who has been one of the Patriots top receiving threats in the playoffs; safety Patrick Chung, who is one of the most important players in New England’s secondary; and cornerback Eric Rowe, who is the team’s nickel corner.
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JAGUARS VS PATRIOTS LIVE meet Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium in Week of the NFL season. Kickoff is at 1 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on CBS. The Browns Radio Network will broadcast the game on WKRK/92.3 FM, WKNR/850 AM and WNCX/98.5 FM.
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The CBS game crew will include Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon. The Browns Radio Network crew will include Jim Donovan, Doug Dieken and Nathan Zegura. Long losing streaks expose a team off the field just as much as on the field and that’s what the Pittsburgh Steelers are dealing with. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin don’t seem to be on the same page, but the Steelers have a very good chance to end their four-game losing streak when they face the winless Cleveland Browns on Saturday on CBS, 3:05 p.m. ET, CBS, DirecTV.
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Steelers (4-5) quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is calling out the entire team, including Tomlin and his staff, saying the team lacks discipline and accountability. Of course, Roethlisberger isn’t including himself in that characterization, but his statements seemed to be directed at the coach.
The Browns (0-10) have their own issues, starting with being the only winless team in the NFL. Coach Hue Jackson can’t get the quarterback situation straightened out. Rookie Cody Kessler is starting, but there’s talk that Robert Griffin III could play once his injured shoulder is fully healed.
NFC Championship Game 2018 Confidence is certainly not in the limited supply as the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles are approaching the 2018 NFC championship game.
The visiting Vikings have not lost since Dec. 10, and it begins to be awful after the miracle of Stefon Diggs defeating the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round. An elite defense against a quarterback does not hurt confidence either.
But hosts do not care about Carson Wentz on the sidelines and Nick Foles in the center, not after a 15-10 loss to the NFC Championship Game Atlanta Falcons, proving the team is much more than the quarterback. Being at home helps too.
For the Eagles, the focus will be on the Foles and the advantage of the local pitch.
The Poles did not statistically ruin anyone in the Atlanta win, completing 23 of their 30 assists for 246 yards and seeing the only touchdown of the attack going through LeGarrette Blount. But the team won two of three with him in the middle to close the regular season.
“I am very honored to win this game and be part of this team,” said Foles, according to Stats LLC (via ESPN.com). “That’s what it’s always been, I know there were a lot of people against us last week, we just answered questions and we only found out about it.”
Although the Vikings know everything about adversity. When Teddy Bridgewater fell, Sam Bradford came in. After an electric performance, the team had to call Case Keenum, who completed 67.6% of his passes, NFC Championship Game with 3,547 yards and 22 touchdowns in the regular season. He then crossed the 300-yard mark in a playoff series with Drew Brees in the playoffs and led his team to victory.
Even the racing game overcame the loss of rookie Dalvin Cook to provide the necessary balance.
And yet, it is the defense of the Vikings. Yes, Brees posted three points, but the unit allowed 15.8 points per game and 83.6 rushing yards per game during the regular season. The New Orleans duo, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, NFC Championship Game averaged less than four yards per race, while each contained two double-digit attempts.
For Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, it’s a reassertion defense that can still win championships.
“I think this shows you that you can have a formula to play a very good defense and have the opportunity to win many football matches,” Zimmer said, according to Jace Frederick of Pioneer Press. “Normally, when you’re good defensively, you stay in the ball games, so you have the chance to win them at the end.”
The Vikings’ defense might not win a championship this year, but as you can see in previous statistical predictions, it’s probably enough to overtake these Eagles. The poles are just not at Wentz level, and if the unit could close the backfield of NFC Championship Game New Orleans, it should not have a problem with what the Eagles have to offer.
On the way, look for the Vikings to play their usual game offensively while defense forces the Beasts into the air more often than he would like.