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Super Bowl Preview: Patriots v Eagles

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Philadelphia Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Wash. (Dean Rutz/Seattle Times/TNS)

Philadelphia Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Wash. (Dean Rutz/Seattle Times/TNS)

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Philadelphia Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Wash. (Dean Rutz/Seattle Times/TNS)

Gabe Kaminsky, Sports Editor

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Thirteen years ago, Tom Brady kneeled downwards and clinched the Patriots 3rd title in four years. Super Bowl XXXIX is defined as a complete failure by most Eagles fans. McNabb had a passer rating of 75.4 and threw 3 interceptions, Westbrook only rushed for 44 yards, and the defensive struggled on the passing and rushing front.

This broke Philly residents’ hearts.

Now the Eagles have an opportunity, or rather the city of Philadelphia does. The New England Patriots are a dynasty: there is no denying of that. Brady, Belichick, Kraft: nuff’ said. This is a Patriots team that has gotten a playoff bye for the past 8 seasons and a team that has won five super bowls in recent memory. They are a force that few teams can challenge, as their playcalling is unbelievable and precise.

Brady is also one of the most clutch QBs in history, which we saw in his epic comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI (just a year ago).

Nick Foles: the failed starter, overhyped draft pick, Rams’ disaster, backup. But now, Foles has an unparalleled opportunity to continue to assert his playoff dominance: this time against a vaunted Patriots defense.

Rookie Carson Wentz’s injury was a disaster. Many fans, including myself, strongly thought that their Super Bowl chances were very slim and were content knowing that they would be back next season with just as much energy.

Foles has proved pretty much everyone wrong, as he has taken the offense under his wing and helped progress running backs Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount to work from the shotgun. He has experience, and is supported by a large portion of Eagles fans (if not all of them by now).

The other real story is the Eagles defense, which has been led by Darby, Jenkins, Cox, and McLeod. It has allowed an average of just 13 points to offenses this season.

Tom Brady will surely find it difficult to move around or stay in the pocket for long against Philly. Additionally, Belichick may want to work on his running back approach as Dion Lewis may not fair well on HB dives.  Here are keys to winning for both teams.

Patriots:

  1. Short passes: the Eagles cornerbacks tend to hang deep and give receivers some space.
  2. Use Nate Solder and bring Dion Lewis out on pitches and stretch runs.
  3. Let Brady do his thing.
  4. Don’t give Foles time and pinch LB’s to detain Eagles running game.
  5. Put pressure on Foles and the O-line: the Patriots are way more experienced and stress is a factor in this game.

Eagles:

  1. Be smart, play conservative.
  2. Need to get to Brady quick, too much time = Brady finding a wideout eventually.
  3. Don’t give Pats receivers (specifically Gronk and Cooks) room.
  4. Double Team Gronk – no question.
  5. Take the points, don’t try to outsmart Belichick. (Don’t go for it on 4th unless necessary).

These are what I believe to be essentials to either team in winning. Here is my final prediction.

Patriots 27 v Eagles 18

I think that the game will be largely dominated by New England, including in possession time. It would be awesome to think Foles could, against all odds, take down the Pats, but my better instincts tell me that it’s too much to ask.

It will be disappointing for the city, but I just can’t bet against Brady: not now or never. He’s the most clutch Quarterback I have ever seen and likely will ever watch play. The Patriots aren’t as unbelievable of a team as they have been in previous years, but they still have a great group of guys.

I’m really hoping that I am wrong, but I fear that I won’t be. Let’s have ourselves a Super Bowl, Philly.

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Super Bowl Preview: Patriots v Eagles