The Super Bowl LII is set.
The Philadelphia Eagles obliterated the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game, while the New England Patriots came from behind to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game. As such, it will be the fourth time in the last five years that both #1 seeds reach the Super Bowl.
The Patriots look like favorites on paper, and who could deny them? The team has consistently defied expectations, Tom Brady is playing better than ever, and the team should have Rob Gronkowski back after he left the game against Jacksonville with a concussion. But the Eagles are no slouch either. They are a talented team that deserved the top seed in the NFC. Plus, they absolutely destroyed the Vikings this past Sunday.
So with that in mind, we need to start considering what the Eagles can do. Do they have what it takes to slow down the Patriots?
First, let’s look at what they can do on offense. Carson Wentz is gone due to injury, but Nick Foles has replaced him effectively. In fact, the 29-year-old quarterback has posted a passer rating over 100 in his three postseason starts. He is proving his doubters wrong once again. And while Foles is nowhere near being a star quarterback, he does have a lot of weapons at his disposal. Alshon Jeffery and LeGarrette Blount are two important pieces that can complicate the Pats’ defense.
However, Philadelphia’s biggest task will be on the defensive side of the ball. The Eagles did have a good job on defense during the regular season, though, They ranked second in the league in yards-per-game allowed with 307.0 per game. The Eagles were the second-best team in the league in rushing yards allowed per game, with a mere 78.0 per game. That’s a good sign going forward, as the Patriots tend to employ RB-heavy formations with James White and Dion Lewis.
White and Lewis perform better as pass-catching backs, however, so the Eagles need to be aware of screen passes. The Jaguars did a good job to limit their impact, but the Eagles need to be better.
The secondary will have their hands full as well. Even though they ranked fifth in the league in passing yards allowed (229.0), it is another completely different thing to deal with the likes of Danny Amendola – who had a huge performance against the Jaguars – and Gronkowski, who should be healthy ahead of the next two weeks.
The numbers back up Philadelphia’s defense, though. They have what it takes to slow the Patriots down. But they will need to be at their absolute best to handle Tom Brady and the rest of the offense.