I’m just as surprised as the next guy when it comes to this Super Bowl matchup. Foolishly, I thought the Patriots would be knocked off by the Steelers; I thought this was Pittsburgh’s best shot in years to knock off a Patriots’ team that isn’t as good as they have been in years past. Unpredictably, they lost to the Jags, and then the Jags lost a fourth-quarter lead in more predictable fashion to Tom Brady and the mighty Patriots.
Furthermore, though, I thought there was no shot the Eagles would make the Super Bowl without Wentz. Their divisional-round win over Atlanta wasn’t shocking to me; they were coming off a bye, at home outdoors, and let their defense and home-field advantage carry them to a down-to-the-wire win. But the win against Minnesota was shocking; I was positive the Vikings-Saints winner would be the NFC representative.
So how did we get here? The fact is, and it’s easier to see in hindsight, that the Eagles are dominant in the trenches on both sides of the ball. They have arguably the best offensive and defensive line in the league, and that’s how they’ve been able to overcome an injury to their most important player.
Spread: Patriots -5 vs. Eagles
It’s tough to foresee Nick Foles continue his playoff success against Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ defense. The Eagles are going to have to dominate up front, run the ball successfully, and avoid a shootout. Most importantly, though, they need to play to win against a team so confident playing from behind. The Jaguars last week, just like the Falcons last year, let up when they had the game in control and played scared in the second half, leading to the inevitable Patriots comeback victory.
On the other hand, the Patriots seem to be fully healthy (assuming Gronk is cleared), and this year seems to be special with both coordinators headed for other, bigger positions in 2018 (see Belichick’s post game hug with Matt Patricia). For all those who hate the Patriots, I think it’s time to appreciate their greatness. We may never see anything close to it again in the National Football League.
Plus, who wants to see Philly win?