February 02, 2018
By: Steve Degler
The Super Bowl hype is nearly over. It is soon time to let the players decide the championship on the field. The Philadelphia Eagles are in pursuit of their first Lombardi Trophy. For their opponents, the New England Patriots, this is a completely familiar scenario.
Do the Eagles have a realistic chance against the vaunted Patriots? Of course they do. Could the Birds get blown out? Absolutely. Can the Eagles do to New England what they did to the Vikings in the NFC Championship? Not likely, but you won't find many who thought the Eagles would win by 31 against Minnesota.
What is it going to take for the Eagles to end their long drought? A rare off night for Tom Brady would help but I wouldn't count on that. A couple of bad decisions by Bill Belichick would be nice. Probably not going to happen. New England is generally not going to lose games. You have to beat the Patriots. But there is a part of me that is hoping the odds finally catch up to the Patriots and they actually have a bad playoff showing. That's not much to hang your hat on if you're the Eagles.
Which means Philadelphia must avoid the usual pitfalls-turnovers and penalties. Do not make it easy for the Patriots to accumulate points. Nick Foles must make good decisions and the Eagles need to hold onto the football. From a defensive angle, Fletcher Cox and his pals along the defensive line will be key. They have to get pressure on Brady without the benefit of blitzes. If the blitz doesn't get there, Brady will have a feast. The front four must get to him so the Eagles can keep seven players in coverage.
I don't think this New England team is as good as some of the previous championship squads the Patriots have had. But there is a certain mystique that goes with playing them. They are almost as good psychologically as they are physically. They get into their opponents' heads at times. If the Eagles can avoid all of that extraneous stuff, they can certainly win this game.
The Birds became afterthoughts almost as soon as the results of the MRI on the knee of Carson Wentz became public. They've thrived in the role of underdog in both playoff victories. Let's hope they can do it one more time. I can't imagine what an Eagles victory parade would look like, but I'd love to see it next week.