February 03, 2018
No matter what happens on Sunday night, the wild ride that was the Philadelphia Eagles 2017 season will come to an end when they take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
The teams are done practicing. The stadium has been all set up. And the experts have made their picks.
Now, the only thing left to do is play the damn game. But don't worry; you still have time to lay down some bets. There are thousands of things to bet on, and the over/under prop bets we typically highlight here are among the most popular during the Super Bowl.
For much of the season, you aren't even able to bet on most of the over/unders I post – and not just because I make them up off the top of my head (sort of). But with only one game left, all the focus is on the Eagles and Patriots.
And while you might not be able to find all of these right now, there's a good chance you'll be able to find a sports book somewhere out there willing to take bets on them.
That's the current total being offered over at Bovada. To me, this comes down to whether or not you think the Eagles defense is going to be able to do to Tom Brady what they did to Case Keenum two weeks ago. I don't think the Birds will have too difficult of a time against a Patriots defense that can be exploited, so it's all going to depend on how tough they make it on Brady.
New England had one of the best offenses in the league this season, so there are no guarantees Jim Schwartz's unit dominates like it did in the conference title game. And if you look at our staff predictions, we each have at least 48 points being scored. Then again, none of us has more than 52 points being scored, so it's not exactly a ringing endorsement of the over. Still, that's the way I'm leaning.
Against the Vikings, Foles completed four passes of over 35 yards. That wasn't supposed to happen. But if he can have another game throwing the ball downfield like that, the Eagles are going to win the game.
The Pats are near the bottom of the league in yards allowed, but near the top in points allowed. They are the definition of a "bend but don't break" defense, and are very, very good in the red zone. If the Birds can score on some long plays, they won't have to worry about facing Matt Patricia's defense when it's at its best. But that's easier said than done.
Still, the Eagles have the weapons to do it. And a coach ballsy enough to make the call. Foles will get his shots, it's just a matter of whether or not they can execute.
All week, everyone has been saying the key to beating the Patriots is stopping Tom Brady. And the way to stop Brady is to get pressure on him. Once again, however, that's easier said than done. The Eagles defensive front has done a tremendous job getting pressure on opposing QBs this season, and while that hasn't always translated into sacks – they're near the middle of that pack total sacks this season – it has helped their secondary tremendously, as well as helped them generate timely turnovers.
The Jaguars sacked Brady three times last week, but that didn't stop him from making a comeback and sending them back to Jacksonville with their heads in their hands.
So far this postseason, Brady has been interception free. But history suggests that he's due. This is his sixth time making it to the Super Bowl, and in all but one of those runs he's thrown at least one postseason interception. The lone exception? The 2005 postseason, when the Pats beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl in Jacksonville.
I think the defense is going to get an interception this time around, although I don't know that they're going to be able to get to Brady three additional times. With all the talk about the Birds defensive line, you've got to think that Bill Belichick is drawing up a gameplan that involves Brady getting the ball out of his hands quickly.
One interception, two sacks, and the under. But the Eagles still get the win.
One way to limit Brady and the Patriots offense is by keeping them off the field. And while part of that means getting stops on third down, it also means putting up some long, sustained, time-consuming drives. The best way to do that is by running the ball.
The Patriots finished the season 31st in the NFL in yards per carry allowed (4.7) and that could bode well for an Eagles offense that has the kind of punishing ground attack capable of wearing down opposing defenses. Assuming the Birds don't fall behind early, we could see an attack that's much more focused on the run game than the one we saw two weeks ago against the Vikings.
And if you're looking for a candidate to have the biggest impact in that regard, look no further than their newest running back, Jay Ajayi:
Jay Ajayi has played in 9 games for the Eagles. pic.twitter.com/UVAlw0QiNY— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) February 3, 2018
The one thing that could derail this is Foles' accuracy. If he's able to complete those short passes like he did in the NFC Championship Game, then there's a chance we see those replace a few of the runs, especially on RPO plays. If Foles is feeling it, and you give him the option to run or pass, there's a much better chance he pulls it back and opts to not hand it off.
Seemed to work fine last week.
Over. Over, over, over, over.
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