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Super Bowl LII Predictions

By Devon Hall and Matt Haake
On January 31, 2018

Devon Hall:

After the loss of the Philadelphia Eagles’ starting quarterback Carson Wentz, no one could have predicted the team would be playing in Super Bowl 52. Wentz was having an MVP caliber season until his season-ending injury in early December when he tore his ACL. Despite Wentz’s injury, the Eagles’ offense hasn’t lost a step thanks to Nick Foles, who has stepped in to take his place.

For success in the upcoming Super Bowl, Foles has to play just like he did during the Eagles’ 38–7 win over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game. Foles threw for 352 yards with a quarterback rating of 141.4 and completed 78% of his passes.

New England is ranked third-best in the NFL for total defense, which means Philly’s offense has to stay on fire. It can’t afford turnovers, which would put the ball back in the hands of the dangerous Tom Brady.

I believe Philadelphia will win because of defense. The Eagles are ranked second-best in total yards-per-game and total rushing yards-per-game. The team is also ranked fifth-best in the NFL in passing yards-per-game. Philly has to have its best passing defense on display in order to beat Tom Brady and the New England offense, which has been on fire this postseason.

Philadelphia’s safety Malcolm Jenkins will be the X-factor in Super Bowl 52, especially when he’s guarding New England’s tight-end Rob Gronkowski (if he’s cleared to play). Jenkins will have to be more physical than the bigger tight-end and can’t allow him to find openings in the Eagles’ defense.

Also, I think the Eagles’ defensive line will have a huge game. If the line can pressure Brady, sack him a few times, and cause turnovers, like it did in the NFC Championship Game, the team will be victorious, as Brady has shown he doesn’t respond well when he’s under pressure from 300-pound linemen.

You can also expect a huge game from Eagles’ wide-receiver Alshon Jeffrey. I truly believe none of the Patriots’ defensive backs can guard him, especially one-on-one. If the Patriots decide to go man-coverage, look for Foles to take advantage of this mismatch.

I think this game will come down to the fourth quarter. If Philly’s defense can continue to cause turnovers and the team can turn those turnovers to points on the board, they can keep up with the Patriots’ deadly offense. For this to happen, Foles has to play lights-out and special team-and-field positioning will play a huge part.

My prediction of the end score is 27–24, with the Eagles winning their first Super Bowl in franchise history.

Fly Eagles Fly!

Photo by: Charles Krupa/AP

Matt Haake:

The preseason Super Bowl favorite New England Patriots, led by the legendary player/coach combination Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, look to capture the franchises’ sixth Super Bowl title.

The formula for another Patriots Super Bowl victory begins with the health of their high-powered offensive weapon, tight end Rob Gronkowski (“Gronk”).

Gronk experienced a vicious hit in the AFC Championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, leading to a concussion and an early exit from the game. Despite still being under the NFL’s mandated concussion protocol, he is expected to play

As the Patriots roll into Minneapolis, Minnesota, another looming question involves the condition of future Hall-of-Famer Brady’s right hand. An injury during practice about two weeks ago gave Brady a dozen stitches on his throwing hand, but that didn’t seem to slow him down as he threw for 290 YDS and 2 TD against a highly-rated Jaguar defense.

Former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson, now head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, looks to spoil the Patriots’ party with backup quarterback Nick Foles at the helm. The Eagles have rallied around their stellar defense throughout this playoff run with surprise spirits of an explosive offense thanks to the help of a midseason acquisition running-back, Jay Ajayi.

My prediction is similar to the oddsmakers in Las Vegas, which have the Patriots as a four-and-a-half-point favorite.

Look for the Patriots to jump out to an early lead, controlling the clock by utilizing their team-leading rusher Dion Lewis.

Despite early first quarter troubles, I expect the Eagles to fight back and take a commanding lead into the fourth quarter. But, in typical Tom Brady fashion, he will command two clutch-scoring drives, with the last ending in a Stephen Gostkowski 46-yard field goal to win Super Bowl LII as time runs out.

Patriots 23-20

 

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