Just about every sports talk, radio, or television show outside of Philadelphia favors the Patriots over the Eagles in Super Bowl 52. Vegas oddsmakers currently have New England as 5.5 point favorites, continuing their trend of underestimating the Eagles. The common sentiment is that the Eagles simply don’t have the defensive firepower to compete with the unrelenting juggernaut that is the New England Patriots. Another popular argument is that Bill Belichick will be playing chess while Doug Pederson plays checkers. I’ve even heard that the Eagles will struggle to move the ball against New England- who gave up the fourth most yards per game in the entire NFL. The Super Bowl takes have simply reached absurdity and I’m going to try and tackle as many of them as I can in hopes more people realize how evenly matched these teams truly are.
Pats’ passing game will abuse Eagles’ CB’s
Let’s start with the laziest, most overused argument. Much has been made about the cornerbacks- particularly on the outside- being the weak links in the Eagles defense. I think this sentiment is a result of people trying to apply the struggles of recent seasons to the current unit. Cornerback was a huge weakness for the Eagles over the past few years, but this year’s group has been sensational. Including the playoffs, the Eagles have allowed 300+ passing yards just four times this season. Additionally, the team has held quarterbacks to sub-200 passing yards on six different occasions.
The Eagles corners also just held two top 20 wide receivers in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen to a combined 98 yards, despite the duo being targeted 21 times. Not too shabby for a unit viewed as weakness. Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby are more than capable of handling the Pats’ receivers, and shouldn’t be viewed as a cake walk by any means.
New England won’t lose to a backup QB
This is an odd take because it severely underestimates what Nick Foles is capable of. Foles isn’t amongst the Matt Barkley and Tom Savage level of backup quarterbacks. He’s a former Pro Bowler and has flashed some of that same production during the Eagles current run. Heck, he just shredded the #2 pass defense in the league to the tune of 352 yards and 3 TDS, and has never turned the ball over in a playoff game.
New England’s defense aren’t exactly the ‘85 Bears either. They allowed 5,856 yards of total offense this season- 4,020 of them coming through the air. Only the Giants and Buccaneers allowed more passing yards this season. The Patriots’ 30th ranked pass defense was absolutely atrocious and Nick Foles should have no trouble moving the ball on their laughable secondary.
Doug Pederson isn’t smart enough to compete with Bill Belichick-
Belichick is a highly decorated coach and nobody can scoff at what he has accomplished in his career. Some people, however, have gone a little overboard with the discrepancy
between Pederson and Belichick. Belichick is known for being a step or two ahead of his opposition, but if there is anything Pederson has proved this season is that he can call a game with the best of them.
One game that really highlights Doug Pederson’s play calling prowess is the Week 11 matchup against Dallas. Once K Jake Elliott was lost for the game with injury, the Eagles were forced to go for two-point attempts after scoring touchdowns, instead of the usual extra point kick. Pederson responded by calling some of the best red zone plays I’d seen all season. The Eagles converted 3 of 4 two point attempts- the one failed attempt being a drop- and the Birds went on to thrash the Cowboys 37-9.
Another prime example of Doug Pederson’s superb coaching abilities is the game plan he put together for Nick Foles. Pederson quickly realized Foles is a far cry from Carson Wentz, but could still excel if the team played to his strengths. The game plan worked to perfection, and if you don’t believe me feel free to ask the Falcons or Vikings where they’ll be watching the Super Bowl next Sunday.
Doug Pederson should be a lock for Coach of the Year this season, and I expect him to build on his case next Sunday.
Here are a few rubbish, yet popular takes I feel don’t even elicit a full response, so I’ll give them the only reaction their worth.
Patriots are scoring 30+ points on “overrated” Eagles defense:
Eagles had an easy road to the Super Bowl:
Unprecedented run sounds a bit more accurate to me.
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) January 26, 2018
Patriots defeated them in 2004, so they already know the blueprint to defeat Philly:
A lot can change in 13 years.
There have been a ton of sports moments where the David vs Goliath narrative is applicable, but the Super Bowl LII matchup is simply not one of those cases. The Pats and Eagles were both the number one seed in their respective conferences, and have both had sensational seasons to this point. I expect both teams to arrive ready to compete in Minneapolis, with the better team taking the Lombardi trophy with them.
The Eagles may be the underdogs, but they certainly aren’t facing impossible odds.
Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports