It is safe to assume that all NFL fans were shocked at the outcome of last week’s NFC championship game. Not because the Eagles won, but by the fashion in which they won. No one expected such a dominating performance, especially from quarterback, Nick Foles. Regardless of home field advantage, the Eagles have been considered underdogs in all of their previous playoff matchups and Super Bowl 52 is no different. The Eagles will face Tom Brady once more, in an attempt to win their franchise’s first Super Bowl. Going up against Brady and the Patriots is no easy task, but here are some reasons on why the Eagles will bring the Lombardi trophy to Philly.
The Emergence of Nick Foles
Nick Foles was single handedly the deciding factor in last week’s NFC championship game. Although the Vikings opened the game with a touchdown, Foles calmly put his team on his back. He failed to let the Vikings momentum ever dictate his success, which shows some level of clutch in his game. Foles was up against the top ranked defense in the NFL and he never seemed flustered. While consistently dealing with the Vikings pressure, he capitalized on what the defense gave him. The short quick passes opened the door for the flea flickers and long balls. Given this type of performance, it seems to me that he has figured a way to effectively lead his offense. This type of offensive breakthrough comes at the perfect time. Foles just finished beating one of the better defenses in the league and now he will face an average defense. He will have slightly more time to find the open receiver than he did a week ago. Not to mention, he will have the trio of running backs at his disposal, which will take some pressure off. Going into the biggest game of his career, I am certain that he and his coaching staff (Pederson, Reich and DeFilippo) will be putting a game plan that will allow this quarterback journeyman to flourish.
Eagles Offensive Line
The heartbeat of this Eagles team is their offensive line. Despite injuries, they have remained one of the top lines in the NFL. All season long, this offensive line has been vital in keeping their quarterbacks upright, while also creating plenty of running lanes for their running backs. This upcoming matchup against the Patriots defensive line seems to favor the Eagles. The Patriots aren’t known for their fierce pass rush, giving the Eagles the ability to control the line of scrimmage. If such thing occurs, this would allow the Eagles to run the ball and control the clock. The best defense against Brady is keeping him off the field.
Eagles Running Backs
The Eagles can utilize the perfect combination of running backs. They have an elusive back in Jay Ajayi, a bruiser in LeGarrette Blount and pass catching threat in Corey Clement. This type of versatility gives the Patriots a lot to worry about. The key to this game will come down to the effectiveness of the Eagles running game. During championship weekend, the Patriots allowed 103 rushing yards to the Jaguars, while the Eagles accumulated 114 total rushing yards against the Vikings tough rushing defense. Too add insult to injury, the Patriots were ranked 16th in rushing defense. Given these stats, the Eagles should be able to run the ball effectively. Assuming the success of the Eagles rushing attack, this will allow the offense to stay on the field and most importantly rest their defense. We all remember Super Bowl 51, in which the Falcons demonstrated an effective rushing attack, keeping Brady off the field for about 3 quarters. We have seen before what Brady can do, once his team attains any type of momentum. Keeping the pressure on the Patriots defense for 4 quarters is a must!
Eagles Fast Defense
The Eagles have shown all season long that their defense plays hard and fast. The strength of the defense starts with the defensive line. With the likes of Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Chris Long, Derek Barnett, they have been able to consistently apply QB pressure. Due to this constant pressure, they are also ranked the top rushing defense in the NFL. Their defensive line play is well complimented by their fast linebackers and secondary. The speed of this defense has been one of the fundamental reasons on why the Eagles ranked 4th in forcing turnovers. I anticipate the Eagles rush defense to make the Patriots one dimensional, forcing Brady to throw a lot. If the Eagles can keep their defense rested, it will allow their linebackers and secondary to fly to the ball.
The Eagles fly high with the confidence of being playoff underdogs and will win Super Bowl 52 by the success of the offense. The rushing attack will be too much for the Patriots to stop, giving Foles less responsibility in the offense. Foles will do just enough to effectively lead his offense down field. On the other side, the Eagles defense will cause Brady to be consistently pressured and sacked allowing them to control this game. Running the ball and controlling time of possession will be the recipe for victory here.
Super Bowl MVP: LeGarrette Blount.