Patriots vs. Eagles: Who Will Win?

February 2, 2018

Why the Patriots Will Win:

Bradley Wright

The last time the Patriots and the Eagles met in the Super Bowl was 2005. The Patriots topped the Eagles 24-21. It has been 13 years since that heartbreaking loss in Jacksonville. Since then, both teams have lost valuable players, such as Carson Wentz as the Eagles starting quarterback and Julian Edelman, one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets is out for the season. Despite these hard losses, both teams have respectable back-ups that have a lot to prove. There is no better time to fill in the shoes of a beloved starter than the biggest game of the season.

Tom Brady has proven to be one of the best, if not the best, Super Bowl quarterbacks of all time. He has an unmatchable drive to win games in clutch moments. His consistency in big games and decision -making are among the elites at the position he plays. It is undeniable that he is a true leader on his team. He has led them to seven Super bowls and five wins. Among those five wins, he has won the Super bowl MVP four times. He is debatably the best quarterback of this era, possibly ever. So with him under center, you do not have to worry about offensive errors on his part. We all know how Super bowl 51 turned out. Down 28-3 with only a few minutes left in the third quarter. After many great offensive plays and defensive stops, the Patriots pulled off the greatest Super Bowl comeback of all time.

This past regular season, Brady threw for 4,577 yards, 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions, with a total quarterback rating of 102.8. In the postseason, he has yet to throw an interception. He is calm and poised when the pressure is on him. It is the pressure that drives him to make a better play than the last. The Eagles have one of the best defenses in the league, but so did the Jaguars, and the Patriots overcame the point deficit in that game two weeks ago.

Enough talk about Tom Brady and his balanced offense. The Patriots have a stout, clutch defense, especially when they need to. Stephon Gillmore, a defensive back for the Patriots, sealed the deal with the Jaguars with a pass deflection on fourth down to give Brady and his offense time to run time out. James Harrison will be a matchup nightmare for the Eagles offensive line. His pass rushing ability is tough to stop. With his size, speed and power it is going to take more than one Eagle to stop him from getting to Nick Foles.

The Patriots head coach Bill Belicheck has a record of 26-10 in the postseason. He just completed his forty second year coaching, 18 of those being with the Patriots. The experience that the Patriots have over the Eagles is superior, not only in the statistics, but on the field. This will be the eighth Super bowl appearance under the control of Belicheck. Belicheck’s halftime talks motivate his team to do better in the second half, whether they are winning or losing. Needless to say, he will keep his team in check all four quarters. Belicheck’s team with Brady as the starter has 27 playoff victories, and the Eagles quarterback Nick Foles has 22 regular season wins. Numbers do not lie, and the numbers play in the favor of the Patriots.

The Philadelphia Eagles are a great football team. They have a balanced offense, strong defense and a top-notch coaching staff. However, I do not think that Nick Foles is a championship quarterback. He was a backup for Wentz for a reason. Foles best season was 2014 when he started for the Eagles. He threw for just over 2000 yards, 13 touchdowns along with 10 interceptions. Yes, he has looked good this postseason with a completion percentage of 78, with three touchdowns and no picks. But with all eyes on him, expectations are high and stakes are even higher. He lacks experience as a postseason starter, so I think that will come into play when he needs to move the ball down the field to win the game. Foles is a Pro-Bowl quarterback, while Brady is a Hall-of-Fame quarterback. They both have a lot to prove. Foles saying that he can live up to the expectations and get his first ring, and Brady proving that he is the best, and that age is just a number.

 

Why the Eagles Will Win: 

Sidney Al-Dijaili

On Dec.10, 2017, the world of NFL football turned its back on the Philadelphia Eagles after Carson Wentz, the starting quarterback and arguably the best athlete on the team, went down in Los Angeles against the Rams with a torn ACL.

The Eagles, who were 11-2 at the time, were immediately dismissed as playoff contenders in general. On Sunday, they are playing for Super Bowl 52. This alone enough is evidence to the fact that though the game may not end with the Eagle’s first championship ring, they should in no way be counted out before the first snap of the game.

The stats alone speak for themselves when considering how truly powerful the Eagles are in almost every aspect of both their offense and their defense. Even though the majority of the season was indeed lead by Wentz, the Eagle’s total offense was still the third best in football, averaging 395 yards per game. Along with this, the Eagles also had the fifth best ranking in their passing yards, averaging 292 per game. Admittedly, the Eagles have not necessarily excelled in their average rushing yards, managing 103 per game. Though many would not consider this impressive, the Patriots only averaged 73 this season. An entire 30 yards less than the Eagles.

The Eagles offensive athletes who contributed to producing stats such as these should also be brought into consideration when contemplating the possible outcomes that the game Sunday may bring. An easy example is Zach Ertz, a pro bowl nominated TE, who had 949 receiving yards. Almost 100 of those yards were gained during the Eagles 31 point victory against the Vikings, who supposedly have one of the most powerful defenses in the entire NFL. Nelson Agholor, a wide receiver with 8 touchdowns in the regular season, also will most likely be a force that the Patriots defense will have to come up with a way to subdue. Running back Jay Ajayi should also come into the conversation about the talent as an offensive playmaker. Ajayi has had 873 yards this season. Though he may not have a multitude of touchdowns on the year, Ajayi always was able to make huge running plays that set up the offense to be able to score.Players with skills and talents such as these needs to be considered with great thought when attempting to foretell the possible conclusion of the Super Bowl.

Not only does the offense of the Eagles excel far beyond what they are credited, their defense also brings about another argument about the underestimation of the Eagles as they prepare for the upcoming Super Bowl. The impressive nature of this defense cannot be argued against and is yet another reason of why the Eagles should not be dismissed heading into Sunday. In total defense for the 2017 season, the Eagles were outplayed solely by the Buffalo Bills, coming second in the NFL in total defense. The Eagles allowed an average 307 yards per game this season, explaining why the final scores of opposing teams were normally in the lower number ranges, only one team being able to score 30 points on the Eagles this season. When you look deeper into the different aspects of the Eagle’s defense, the breakdown of it shows why they have one of the best defenses in the country. They are fifth in all of football in the number of passing yards they allow, giving up 229 average yards per game. Their defense against rushing plays is even more phenomenal, giving up 78 yards per game against rushing offensive plays of opposing teams.

The talent within this defense will also pose a huge issue to the Patriot’s offense, even with Tom Brady leading it. This Patriots offense is bound to struggle in one way or another when facing players such as Defensive end Brandon Graham, who has had almost 10 sacks this season alone and Linebacker Nigel Bradham, who has had 88 solo tackles this season. Numbers like this are crazy and help to showcase the talent of the Eagle’s defense. Their performance over the past season totally demolishes the over used argument that “Carson Wentz carries the Philadelphia Eagles” or “Wentz is the only player on that team with talent.” The performance of Wentz over this past season has very, very little to do with how well the Philadelphia defense has performed. This, without a shadow of a doubt, shows that one player does not a team make.

The Eagles have continually proven the fact that they do not need to be under the leadership of Wentz to be successful, yet many still doubt them. The answer to why this is occurring is simple. The Patriots have Tom Brady. After the injury of Wentz, Nick Foles, who is the Eagles backup quarterback, had to step up to the plate, there have been many who speak in a demeaning way of Foles, because he is “no championship quarterback” and is “not nearly as good as Tom Brady.” To all those geniuses who like to use their brains and point out the obvious, applause to you, because duh, Foles is not as good as Brady. Nick Foles has had very little time as a starting quarterback, with only 39 career starts while Brady has 261 starts.  Therefore, he has limited experience in situations where this much pressure is placed on him, much unlike Tom Brady, who is 11 years older than him and has been in seven Super Bowls. So, yes, of course Tom Brady has a better likelihood to excel more than Foles during the Super Bowl, but that is solely because of his multitude of experiences over Foles, which Foles himself cannot necessarily help. But despite this, if you look at the stats throughout the postseason, Brady does not at all truly outshine Foles, which is something that should worry Patriots fans. I would go the lengths to say that Brady was not even necessarily the most impressive quarterback in the postseason whatsoever. Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints QB, beat out Brady in passing yards—the more shocking statistic being that Foles was a mere 30 yards behind Brady, which was not to be expected when comparing the two quarterbacks. Foles’ himself has not been nearly as bad as many make him out to be. Foles’ completion rate on the year was 56.8 percent, which is not amazing, but it is pretty good, considering the situation he accomplished this in. Looking at all this, if I were a Patriots fan, I would not be as confident as they all seem to be about winning this game.

Anyway, more likely than not, the performance of Brady will not be what determines the Patriots chances of victory over the Eagles. This game will be won or lost at the line of scrimmage. So all avid football fans need to stop looking at the performances of Tom Brady and using  that data to say that the Eagles have no chance. This is just not reasonable. The Eagles arguably have the best offensive line in the NFL, while the Patriots front seven are banged up—patch-work at best. On top of all of this, the front seven, which has not had very impressive performances this postseason, are going to be at a standstill simply because they are not prepared for what the Eagles are going to bring. The coaching staff of the Patriots are in the same boat. The Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick, and his defensive coordinator are talented beyond compare, but a lot of the time, their plays all involve shutting down the best offensive playmaker on the opposing team. Since the Eagle’s best offensive player is already out, this strategy often used by the Patriots will prove ineffective due to the even distribution of talent on the Eagles offense. The Eagles always manage to make sure the ball is spread out, so usually not just a few players are receiving the ball. Because the game will probably pan out in this sense, where the game is a battle between the lines, Brady will not be as important in winning the game as the Patriots fans think.

Though the Patriots fan base seems confident in New England, it seems that the rest of the world may not have as much certainty in how well the Patriots will perform. An easy way to observe this is by watching how the line has consistently been narrowing. Currently, the line is at minus 4 and is still dropping, which is good news to Eagles fans. Essentially, the line is the number of points someone will give you when you are willing to bet on the underdog. If the line is dropping, that means that more people are willing to bet on the Eagles. And they are. A short way to explain all of this is that people are putting money into the Eagles. It seems as even though they are the underdogs of the Super Bowl, people are putting faith in the potential performance of the Eagles.

Beyond all this though, past the numbers, stats and the players themselves, the Eagles have one thing that the Patriots do not—a real reason to want this championship. After the announcement that Wentz was hurt and would not be able to lead the Eagles into the playoffs, almost all avid NFL watchers lost hope in the Eagles. Since that moment, they have been seen as the underdogs in every game they played. Most said they would not make it past their first playoff game, yet they are sitting in Minneapolis preparing for whatever the Patriots bring Sunday. The Eagles are angry and rightfully so, and they feel like they have something to prove to the world. The Patriots have been there and won that, but the Eagles are hungry for the victory. The underdogs are coming back with a lot of bite. Because of this, anyone who counts the Eagles out of this game are ignorant and are not truly and fairly looking at their performance in the postseason. But even if they are not victorious, and the Patriots win, the Eagles, more than any team in the NFL, deserve to be in Super Bowl 52.

Go Birds.

 

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