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Super Bowl LII Preview & Prediction

John Manuel

First and foremost for the record this game matches up my 31st favorite NFL team versus my 28th favorite NFL team.  I am really not looking forward to this matchup.  The Maryland-Wisconsin basketball game that day interests me more at this point.  I don’t want either team to win this game.  Sorry, but I had to add this disclaimer.

But I will give my thoughts on the matchup.  The Eagles have suddenly become everyone’s favorite underdog even though they managed to win 15 games including 2 playoff games.  I understand many shut them down and said 2018 will be their year when Carson Wentz went down in the LA Coliseum.  What many didn’t understand is that the Eagles in the past few seasons (even with Chip Kelly) built a solid foundation across the board.  And that allowed them combined with being the NFC’s best team and earning home field to get to this point.

As for the Patriots, it is February and they are in the Super Bowl.  It happens every year unless Peyton Manning is around recently.  They won last season and then went out and added big timers like Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks.  Gilmore earned his big contract finally against the Jags with that ridiculous pass breakup.  And adding to Cooks to Brady’s crew made the Pats looking like they would make a run at 19-0.  That ended quickly we all know.

So fast forward to today and the Patriots look like a 4 1/2 point favorite for Sunday.  What makes this hard for me to pick is what teams are you going to get?  The Eagles team that played the Vikings OR the Eagles team that played the first half versus Atlanta or the whole game against Oakland.  Same with the Patriots?  Will the Patriots team show up that rolled the Titans or went into Pittsburgh and pulled out a win OR the one that played the first half against the Jaguars or the Dolphins in Miami.  I think both of these teams can show up as both.  Foles has done the job the past 6 quarters and deserves the props he has gotten.  But this game is not in Philly now.

If I hear the key to Philadelphia winning is getting pressure up the middle on Brady one more time I will throw up.  We know that is what the Giants did and that Fletcher Cox is as good as any defender.  I think the Patriots will be ready for it.  I think the key for the Eagles is that they have to be explosive on offense.  I think guys like Ajayi or Agholar have to make big plays and get the Pats defense back into the early 2017 mode.  Will that happen?  I would bet it doesn’t but I feel it is the biggest key for Eagles to win.  Bigger than pressure on Brady.

As for the Patriots I feel they will need to spread the ball around and just move down the field methodically.  And they can do that.  I was really mistaken when I thought Case Keenum could pull this.  Really mistaken.  But I think Brady can and will.  And that will be the difference.  Foles has had an impressive ride but he isn’t Carson Wentz or Tom Brady.  If Wentz was behind center Sunday  I probably would go with the Eagles.  But it is Foles against Brady.  So I think it will be something like Patriots 24-20.

 

 



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