The Philadelphia Eagles embraced their role as playoff underdogs, including Eagles fans and players famously donning dog masks during the conference finals. The Eagles probably should have been favorites for their divisional and conference matchups, but the optics of Carson Wentz sitting on the sideline blinded football pundits, who ignored the rest of Philly’s superb roster.
The opposite appears to be happening during the run-up to the Super Bowl. Now that Philly’s made the big game, the Eagles seem to be getting too much respect. Opening lines from the best sports betting sites list Philadelphia as five-point dogs, with many experts picking the Eagles as a prime upset candidate. Someone even posted a multi-million bet on Philadelphia beating New England.
Underdogs have performed well during the Tom Brady era, but the New England Patriots enter Super Bowl LII strong as ever. If anything, the Patriots will be underrated favorites against the Eagles on February 4th.
Philadelphia Enjoyed Easy Road to The Super Bowl
A quick peek at the Eagles schedule reveals an easy path to the championship game. During the regular season, Philadelphia played only three games against playoff competitors. The final half of the regular season featured a single game against a playoff competitor, when Philly beat the Rams in Los Angeles.
Listed as underdogs during their divisional and conference playoff games, the Atlanta Falcons ended up offering weak resistance while the Minnesota Vikings offered bupkis after requiring a miracle to earn a spot in the NFC conference finals. Other than an impressive goal line stand to clinch the divisional round, Philly hasn’t needed to be sensational to earn a Super Bowl berth. New England will challenge them like no other team this season.
Eagles Last Defensive Challenge Was Week 14
The New York Giants, Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys offered a relatively easy few weeks for the Eagles defense to wrap up top spot in the NFC. Atlanta’s offense, a juggernaut last season, is a shadow of its former self, while the Minnesota Vikings offense proved to be just as uninspiring as the stats suggested.
Holding the Falcons to 10 points and the Vikings to seven remains an impressive accomplishment, but the Eagles must now halt the greatest quarterback of all time, led by crafty coach Belichick, one of the greatest minds in gridiron history.
Despite fielding one of the most fearsome defensive lines in the NFL, Philadelphia was 17th in passing yards allowed and 18th in the NFL in passing TDs ceded. Sure, Philly allowed the fewest rushing yards in the league, but it’s Tom Brady that the Eagles need to worry about.
With Or Without Gronk
The potential absence of the Patriots giant tight end would leave a Gronk-sized hole in the Patriots lineup. Gronkowski’s blend of size, athleticism and surprisingly soft hands make him Tom Brady’s favorite receiver, targeted in 19 percent of Brady’s pass attempts. Rob also led the team by producing 18 percent of the Patriots yards after catch in 2017.
After suffering a concussion due to an illegal helmet hit against the Jaguars during the AFC conference finals, Gronk will be questionable for the Super Bowl, but this doesn’t devastate the Patriots offense. Brady still made a patented fourth quarter comeback against Jacksonville, and the Patriots won the Super Bowl without Gronk last year.
This is where New England’s depth comes into play. Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, Dion Lewis, James White, Chris Hogan and Rex Burkhead all perform well as receivers, working together to make up for Gronkowski (and Julian Edelman) missing time.
New England’s Underrated Defense
The New England Patriots defense started the year on a horrendous slump, allowing 32 points per game during their first four matches against the Chiefs, Saints, Texans and Panthers, losing two out of four to start 2017. Incredibly, the Patriots completely turned it around, becoming one of the stingiest teams in the NFL after week 4. New England allowed only 14 points per game over the last 12 regular season games, continuing their defensive excellence in the playoffs by holding the Titans to 14 points and the Jaguars to 20.
Nick Foles, Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount and the Eagles O-line have performed well, but the Patriots might be the best defensive team in football, especially after the Vikings were wrecked in the NFC finals.Back to the NFL Newsfeed