The New England Patriots are set to face off against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 52 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Feb. 4. The Patriots will be looking to become back-to-back champions, while the Eagles are still searching for their first Super Bowl win.
On paper, this looks to be a close and competitive game, with no team truly having an edge over the other. This postseason, the Eagles’ attack is ranked third in total offense (YPG) with 395. The Patriots are a close fourth with 391 YPG.
Defensively, both teams have performed well, but Philadelphia has a slight edge overall by allowing 307 total yards to opposing offenses, good for second in the postseason. New England clocks in at third with 320.5 yards allowed per game. The only team better defensively was the Buffalo Bills, but they only played one game, while Philadelphia and New England have each played two.
Both teams have been performing exceptionally throughout the playoffs, but there are a couple of factors that will determine who takes home the Lombardi Trophy.
For the Patriots, two big questions will be regarding Tom Brady’s hand and the status of Rob Gronkowski, who left the AFC Championship game with a concussion near the end of the first half.
Going into the AFC Championship game, there was talk about Brady and the status of his hand, as he seemed to sustain an injury during practice and required 12 stitches. On Monday, the quarterback went on WEEI’s Kirk & Callahan show to discuss it.
"Wednesday, it happened, and Wednesday night I definitely wasn’t sure, but it was just a crazy injury in practice,” Brady said. “It didn’t look good there for a little bit, [so] unfortunately Thursday I didn’t practice; I took some time off. Friday, did just a little bit and things kind of felt a lot better on Saturday and [Sunday] I was just able to kind of do what I needed to do.”
While Brady seemed shaky at times during the AFC Championship against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he played well enough to keep the game in hand and complete another signature drive in the fourth quarter to give the Patriots the lead and eventually the win.
As for Gronkowski, special teams captain Matthew Slater spoke to reporters on Monday about his teammate’s status.
“He was in pretty good spirits when I talked to him today,” Slater told the Boston Herald.
While Slater did not provide any specific info regarding Gronkowski’s status or Super Bowl LII, the fact that Gronkowski is talking to his teammates about how he feels can be viewed as positive. The extra week to rest will also be a big benefit for him, as it gives more time to be evaluated and heal.
Having Gronkowski back would certainly be a good sign for the Patriots, especially since they have to go up against a stout Eagles defense. The Eagles had the best run defense in the league during the year, allowing just 79.2 rushing yards per game. While they allowed 227.3 passing yards a game during the same time, they managed to intercept Case Keenum twice on Sunday, one of those being a pick-six.
The biggest factor for the Eagles will be how Nick Foles plays. In the NFC Championship game against the Minnesota Vikings, Foles finished the game with 352 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He completed 26 of 33 passes and ended with a 141.4 passer rating, his third straight game with a passer rating of over 100. All those stats came against a Vikings defense who had the second-best pass defense and number one overall defense in the league during the regular season.
Meanwhile, the Patriots finished 29th overall on defense at the end of the regular season. If Foles comes out the gate firing and can play as well as he did in the Conference Championship, Philadelphia could be be taking home their first Lombardi Trophy come Feb. 4.
Edited by Joe Noser | firstname.lastname@example.org