Beer cans and vitriol rain upon the opposing Minnesota Vikings fans as they exit Lincoln Financial Field. Swaths of green took to the street in a menacing rampage. People climbing up telephone poles, bonfires in the middle of the street, chaos. The Philadelphia Eagles are going to the Super Bowl.
Meanwhile in Foxborough, it is business as usual. Tom Brady is preparing for his eighth Super Bowl in hopes of winning a sixth. An impressive, yet expected outcome for the 40-year-old quarterback in the AFC Championship. Brady is yet to throw an interception in this postseason.
Bill Belichick and this New England Patriots team are chasing history as the most dominant team of all time. Will they be able to continue making history or will the Eagles (with their dog masks) be able to pull the upset being the underdog?
Doug Pederson and Nick Foles
Nick Foles played out of his mind in the NFC Championship game. He threw for 352 yards and 2 touchdowns with a passer rating of 141 against the best defense in the NFL. Philadelphia’s head coach Doug Pederson expertly out schemed the defensive mastermind in Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer.
The acquisition of Jay Ajayi cannot be understated. He has worked out perfectly for the Eagles. Throughout the postseason, Peterson has had Nick Foles run an RPO or run-pass-option.
It is so fast and quick that opposing defenses have been dashed in the last couple of weeks. Nick Foles isn’t a great quarterback by any stretch, but he is in the perfect system to succeed.
In the AFC Championship, quarterback Blake Bortles was running the RPO against New England. The Patriots struggled and it looked like the Jaguars were going to coast into the Super Bowl.
The Patriots have faced the fewest amount of RPO’s in the NFL (39). This can pose some problems.
Most RPOs run in the regular season: Eagles (181)
Fewest RPOs faced in the regular season: Patriots (39)
I think there might be a theme to Patriots practices this week.
— Zoltán Buday (@PFF_Zoltan) January 29, 2018
Eagles and home-field advantage
The Eagles as we know are an absolute nightmare to play in the city of Philadelphia. They don’t allow more than 10 points a game since that week 9 game against the Denver Broncos.
Away from home, they seem about an over average defense. In the last couple of months, they allowed 29 points from the New York Giants, 35 by the Rams, and 24 by the Seahawks. Eli Manning threw for over 400 yards along with 3 touchdowns, Jared Goff threw for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Russell Wilson passed for 271 yards and 3 touchdowns. Watch for Tom Brady to exploit some of these weaknesses that come to fruition when away from the “Link”.
It seems as if Danny Amendola is always making big-time catches in the past couple of postseasons. Nicknamed Danny “Playoff” Amendola, has showcased why he has taken up that moniker. Amendola is averaging 9 catches, 98 yards, and 1 touchdown per game this postseason.
According to Pro Football Focus, when Tom Brady targets Amendola, he has a 134 passer rating. Helping Brady sustain his status as the “Ageless Wonder”. On third downs, Amendola has caught more passes than every other receiver on the Patriots combined this postseason.
Philadelphia has one of the best front-7’s in the league. Fletcher Cox (5.5 sacks), Brandon Graham (9.5 sacks), Chris Long (5 sacks), and Derek Barnett (5 sacks); is a nuisance for any quarterback or offensive coordinator. This isn’t just any quarterback. This is Tom Brady. Although not great against the pass rush, he isn’t bad. According to Pro Football Focus, he still has a passer rating of 95.5 when pressured.
The line in the game according to Las Vegas is Patriots (-4). I expect this game to be fairly close for the most part. It should be low scoring. Colin Cowherd had an interesting stat. He said, the last five teams that have won big in their conference championships are 0-5 in the Super Bowl. I think there is something to that.
Whether it is overconfidence, big game hangover, or playing such a perfect game it is hard to find flaws in the game film. Schematically this game will be a thriller. How will Belichick and the Patriots respond to the Eagles RPO? Can defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz stop Tom Brady?
When it comes down to matchups, the Eagles are better in almost every position. The only edge as far as positions is the quarterback position. That’s a big one. Another obvious edge is coaching. Belichick is the greatest football mind of all time. Pederson, Nick Foles, and the defense is just good. Belichick and Tom Brady are great. I will take great over good. Eagles-17 Patriots-24.