Super Bowl 52: Previews & Predictions
Super Bowl 52 Overview
How Did We Get Here?
After a grueling 16-game regular season schedule and three weeks of playoff contests, there is just one game left to be played in the NFL this season: Super Bowl LII.
The 52nd Super Bowl will take place on February 4, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Set to square off in this season’s big game are the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, in a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX from 2004–a game which the Patriots won 24-21.
Neither of the two conference champions has had an easy path to this year’s Super Bowl. The Philadelphia Eagles looked dead in the water late in the regular season due to the fact that their spectacular sophomore quarterback, Carson Wentz, suffered a torn ACL during the team’s Week 14 game against the Rams. Despite the fact that they were forced to play with their backup quarterback, Nick Foles, the Eagles were able to beat the defending NFC Champion Falcons in the Divisional Round and they blew the doors off the Vikings in the Conference Championship, routing Minnesota by the score of 38-7.
Despite the fact that they won 13 games this season, the Patriots still needed a miraculous comeback in order to punch their ticket to Minneapolis. New England came out flat in their game against the up-and-coming Jacksonville Jaguars, and found themselves down by 10 points late into the fourth quarter. However, the Patriots are a team that always remains focused despite long odds, and they came back and won thanks to two late touchdown catches by Danny Amendola. With that potential upset out of the way, the Patriots now shift their focus to the Eagles in the hopes that they will win their sixth Super Bowl of the Brady/Belichick era.
Philadelphia Eagles Preview
If the Eagles are going to come out victorious in the Super Bowl, they’re going to need a great game from Nick Foles. The 29 year-old signal caller’s play has been bipolar since taking over for Wentz – he’s coming off of a fantastic performance against the Vikings (352 yards, 3 touchdowns) but has also looked lost at times (i.e. his performance against the Cowboys where he completed just 4 out of 11 pass attempts). Foles, despite his shortcomings, has a fantastic amount of talent surrounding him in the passing game, which includes the likes of superstar tight end Zach Ertz and talented wideouts Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and Torrey Smith.
In addition to their passing game weapons, the Eagles have shown the ability to run the ball with tremendous efficiency at times thanks to the trio of former Patriot LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement, and Jay Ajayi. In the regular season, the Eagles averaged over 365 yards per game on offense, which was good enough for seventh best in the NFL.
The Eagles play as of late has been bolstered tremendously thanks to the play of their defense. In their past four games (which includes two playoff contests), the Eagles defense has not allowed more than ten points in any individual game and has forced nine turnovers. If Philadelphia is to win the franchise’s first ever Super Bowl, their defense will most certainly be the ones to set the tone.
New England Patriots Preview
When you talk about the New England Patriots offense, the conversation almost always starts and ends with one man – quarterback Tom Brady. Widely considered to be the best of all time at his position, the 40 year-old signal caller enjoyed another incredibly productive season, throwing for over 4,500 yards and 32 touchdowns while being intercepted just eight times. The weapons surrounding Brady have been depleted a bit this season due to injury but the likes of Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola have stepped up when needed. One major question mark for the Super Bowl is the health of future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronk suffered a concussion in a bang-bang helmet-to-helmet hit in the first half of the AFC Championship and his status for the big game is still unknown.
While not traditionally thought of as a running team, New England does have a stable of talented half backs that can run the ball efficiently and are lethal in the passing game. We saw first-hand how much havoc the Patriots can wreak in last year’s Super Bowl as James White came out of nowhere to catch 14 passes for 110 yards and ended up with three total touchdowns.
The New England Patriots defense is a tricky unit to summarize briefly. They ranked in the bottom four in the league in terms of yards allowed per game in the regular season but they allowed just 18.5 points per game, which is the fifth best in the league. Long thought of as a “bend but don’t break” squad, the Patriots have talent in their pass rush and secondary but lack depth in their linebacking corps, which could be a big problem for them. However, their run defense has been fantastic over the past two games, which could be a big factor in the Super Bowl as they look to make Nick Foles beat them.
I picked the Patriots in my preview piece a couple of weeks ago, and I’m going to stand by my selection. I think Bill Belichick, Matt Patricia, and the Patriots will be able to come up with a game plan that will expose the flaws of Nick Foles. My final prediction is Patriots 27, Eagles 17.