The New England Patriots are 1 game away from winning their 6th Super Bowl in franchise history. That would put the Patriots as the winningest franchise in NFL history. The Tom Brady, Bill Belichick duo has been at the center of every one of the previous 5 championships. Heading into Super Bowl 52 the Pats face a tough test squaring off against the red-hot Philadelphia Eagles. I’m here to tell you why the New England Patriots will defeat the Eagles in this year’s Super Bowl. Here’s how!
History Repeats Itself!
People always are looking for the next big thing. That new exciting upstart company or franchise often times tends to catch more attention than the proven product. Most of the NFL fans have their reasons for hating the Patriots but I’m asking you to not be blind to the facts. Outside of the egregious Donald Trump stuff which everyone should be disgusted with, people find ways to rationalize hating things that they fear. In this case, it’s the Patriots everlasting dynasty. There is no chance New England loses this game. I want you to read these next few paragraphs and compare them to each other. History repeats itself folks!
In 2015 the Seattle Seahawks were ready to defend their super bowl championship against the boring Patriots. They had just humiliated the Broncos and Peyton Manning the year before. The feared ‘Legion of Boom’ couldn’t lose against the lame Pats, right? This was the best young defense in the league. No way Tom Brady was going to carve up a secondary with Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and Brandon Browner, just no way. Even when the game looked like the game was in Seattle’s hands, the Seahawks got too cute and threw a slant on the one-yard line which resulted in an interception to Malcolm Butler. Russell Wilson threw the interception because Butler exemplified the Patriots motto “Do your job”. New England found a way to win against the flashy NFC up and comer.
In 2016 the red-hot Carolina Panthers charged their way into a Super Bowl appearance on the heels of first time MVP Cam Newton. The Panthers fan base rode the slogan ‘Keep Pounding’ riding a huge momentum wave all season including an NFC South title. The Panthers had swag, there’s no way the dab could lose to boring Peyton Manning? Newton’s breakout season was aided by offensive coordinator Mike Shula, the son of hall of fame coach Don Shula who won 2 Super Bowls during his head coaching career. The Panthers met the Broncos in the Super Bowl and were defeated by a 39-year-old Peyton Manning and the number one ranked Denver defense. The Broncos would go on to defeat the Panthers 24-10 in Super Bowl 50.
In 2017 the red-hot Atlanta Falcons exploded onto the scene on the heels of soon to be first time MVP, Matt Ryan. The Falcons fan base rallies around the slogan ‘Rise Up’ after a successful 2016 season winning the NFC South title. Ryan’s breakout season was aided by offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the son of coaching legend Mike Shanahan who won 2 Super Bowls during his head coaching career. The Falcons will meet the Patriots in the Super Bowl. 39-year-old Tom Brady and New England’s number one ranked defense are looking for their 5th championship. Oh, by the way, Atlanta even had better players surging to a 28-3 lead but it didn’t matter. New England found a way to win because everyone simply followed the mantra “Do your job”. Turns out that maybe the Falcons mantra should have just been “sit down”.
In 2018 the red-hot Philadelphia Eagles are the latest challenge. Just like before, the Eagles have the fight song of “Fly Eagles Fly”. Philly has even been rocking the underdog vibe! Nobody believes in us! Even the players have been rocking the dog masks! We know how this story ends, “Do your job” always prevails. Oh wait, it’s already started to happen this year. Just go ask “Sacksonville”.
The Pats Always Find The Hero
Whether it’s James White in the Super Bowl last year or Danny Amendola last week, the Pats always find their unsung hero. Hell, maybe it’s Mike Gillislee who we haven’t seen in 10 weeks. You just never know who it will be but it doesn’t matter. If the Pats can make a fourth-quarter comeback without Gronk against the Jags, there’s really nothing more to be said.
Does Philly have enough corners to pay attention to the never-ending weapons of Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, and Brandin Cooks? Do you trust anyone to cover Gronk? Again, this is another spot where an injury is killing the Eagles. Without their middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, I don’t trust that they can make the proper adjustment that New England always makes.
Are we seriously going to take Doug Pederson to beat Bill Belichick in a Super Bowl? Say what you will but this one’s not close. Doug Pederson doesn’t even have his quarterback, Carson Wentz! Pederson has done a great job with Nick Foles but let’s be serious, he has catered a college offense around him. When Pederson was the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs in 2015, he didn’t even call plays!
Philadelphia runs a college offense. That’s not to offend the Eagles, it’s just a fact. Philadelphia ran more run-pass options than any other team in the league this year. Philadelphia ran 207 RPO’s this season. The league average was 66. Philly only averaged 4.68 yards per play out of the RPO but part of its success is the function of opening up their running game. Considering the Patriots have two weeks to prepare, betting against Bill Belichick to fail at devising the secret sauce to stopping this Philly offense is foolish. Below are the numbers averaged league-wide when it comes to the RPO system.
Completion Percentage 68.9
Yards Per Attempt: 4.97
Zone: Completion Percentage 88.3
Yards Per Attempt: 5.82
New England is very scheme versatile. The Pats run the hybrid system and really run their defense to take away the team’s best weapon. My guess is that means New England will stack the box to stop the run and force Nick Foles to beat them. New England had the same strategy against the Jags two weeks ago. Notice how Leonard Fournette averaged 3.2 yards per carry and Blake Bortles couldn’t beat them. New England also plays a fairly high percentage of man coverage (51.2 percent) of the time. With two weeks to prepare, I’m expecting Philly’s offense will look pretty anemic.
The real advantage the Eagles have is with their defensive line. Philadelphia not only has talent on the defensive line, they have a never-ending rotation of bodies to keep those big boys fresh the entire game. Again, we said this again last week. Jacksonville also had an unbelievable defensive line and recorded three sacks but, of course, it didn’t matter. New England just always wins.
The way New England uses coverages always makes up the backbone of their defense. At his core, Belichick was always a defensive back guru. If New England feels they need to double team Alshon Jeffery or Zach Ertz, this is something they could use. In the picture above the Patriots use bracket coverage which is a clear double team. The biggest thing with this strategy is the other corners have to hold up in single coverage. This particular strategy seemed to work pretty well in the past. Notice how Antonio Brown has never torched the Pats? Can guys like Nelson Agholor or Torrey Smith win that one on one matchup?
In the next image, the Patriots use an over the top safety on Antonio Brown. That effectively whips out the deep ball. In this coverage, Nick Foles will have to check the ball down for the intermediate route as you can see a Steeler wide open in the middle of the field. If the Pats can bait Foles into forcing the ball to a speedy Torrey Smith or Nelson Agholor in this look the Patriots can take hold of the game. If the Eagles do throw the underneath routes, it may also be playing right into the Patriots hands because they tackle so well. Belichick always has a field for what’s coming and will have a good idea when that deep shot is coming with his famous beater play.
The New England Patriots doesn’t blitz too often. New England plays a ton of zone coverage with their linebackers as they believe they can often times fool teams by dropping someone into a zone when the offense doesn’t expect a player to be there. It may sound silly but New England is exceptional at this as they always shift their players just before the ball is snapped. If guys like Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and others sneak their way into an interception don’t be surprised. In this example, it’s often times best to send the wide out as deep as possible so the bracketing linebacker can’t double team and becomes useless in coverage.
The Patriots just always have every possible outcome covered. Even a small impact player like Corey Clement would surprise them in the pass game. Often times before the ball is snapped you will see the Patriots crowd the line of scrimmage but do an excellent job of camouflaging which 4 defenders are actually going to blitz. In this play, you can see the player circled in blue responsible for the running back in the backfield. The player circled at the line of scrimmage drops into the zone and takes away any of the check down throws. Since there are going to be so many defenders on the line, it’s going to be very challenging to run the ball against a loaded box. If the Leonard Fournette could only run for 76 yards on 24 carries, what makes you think the Eagles will have any better success? If the Falcons have any chance of winning this game It’s going to have to come from the complimentary players like Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor. If they do, I bet Bill Belichick will just tip his cap and shake hands.
Tom Brady is the Goat:
Why is no one talking about the Patriots offense? You’re crazy if you don’t think Tom Brady feeds off the fact that all the attention is going towards the heroics of Nick Foles saving the Eagles season. The Super Bowl is the biggest stage in sports. I’m going to give Tom Brady the edge here who will be playing in his 8th one compared to Nick Foles who will be playing in his first. Not only is Tom Brady still great, he notched the best statistical season according to Pro Football Focus for the second year in a row. The 40-year-old showed a slight sign of decline from that impossible 99.3 grade from a year ago but there’s no question Brady is still the best in football with a grade this year of 94.6.
Everyone wants to talk about this Eagles defensive line, but unlike other years, Brady thrived under pressure this year. Brady’s passer rating under pressure trumped the rest of the league with a mark of 96.6 (league average – 67.4). Only 2.2 percent of Brady’s throws were considered interception worthy throws according to Pro Football Focus. Crafting a strategy to beat Brady seems impossible but maybe Philly does have the recipe to copy the New York Giants formula.
The problem is Nick Foles is the opposing quarterback. Then again, maybe Foles is a dumb mouth breather like Eli Manning and doesn’t let the moment get the best of him. The grade between Foles and Brady is the biggest gap in Super Bowl history during the PFF era. Foles’ grade this year of 68.1 doesn’t really compare to Brady. Foles has been on fire during the postseason run but the Pats are the ultimate extinguisher. Too bad Carson Wentz isn’t playing because Philly truly has better players. They just can’t win a championship without their franchise quarterback.
Trey Flowers is the X-Factor:
We know Bill Belichick is a matchup guy. There’s one big black hole on the offensive line. Halapoulivaati Vaitai is that black hole receiving a grade of 39.1 compared to the rest of his offensive linemates that are really talented. The Patriots defense isn’t what it once was in recent years but they have one young budding star, Trey Flowers. The third-year pro from Arkansas has had a monster year recording 6.5 sacks from the defensive end spot. He has also notched 65 tackles playing really well in the run game. Again, injuries have killed the Eagles where they should have All-Pro Jason Peters at the left tackle spot.
Flowers also has shown up in big games. During his postseason playing career, Flowers has reeled in 12 sacks in five career games. His overall grade of 87.1 makes him the 15th best defensive end in football, something most fans would not have guessed. Good luck Vaitai, this is the best defensive lineman you have seen all year.