PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (15-Three) vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (15-Three)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET, U.S Financial institution Stadium, TV: NBC, Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (discipline reporter). WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Harlan, Boomer Esiason, Mike Holmgren, Tony Boselli, Ed Werder. SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 83 (Philadelphia), 82 (New England), XM: 88 (WW1), 83 (Philadelphia), 82 (New England)
SERIES HISTORY: 14th all-time assembly. Eagles lead sequence, 7-6, however the Patriots received a very powerful matchup, a 24-21 victory over the Eagles in Tremendous Bowl XXXIX. The Eagles received the final assembly in 2015, 35-28. However the Patriots received 4 of the final 5 conferences, together with the Tremendous Bowl victory.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
–The Eagles are assured they will rating factors on the Patriots’ protection. The Pats gave up 18.5 factors a sport and the Eagles 18.Four. Due to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s uncanny skill to shortly discover the obtainable receiver, Philadelphia should exert stress with its entrance 4, leaving extra defenders to combine and match cross protection. So it’s a good signal for Philadelphia that the Eagles compiled 33 of 38 sacks with their entrance 4 within the common season (35 of 42 together with postseason). Defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan can collapse the pocket, permitting edge rushers to harass from the skin, as did defensive finish Brandon Graham, who led the group with 9.5 sacks.
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, the fill in for injured second-season sensation Carson Wentz, accomplished Four-of-5 passes that traveled not less than 20 yards within the air towards the Vikings within the NFC Championship Recreation. Previous to that, he was simply 2-for-13 on 20-plus yard throws.
“All people is aware of that Nick is an efficient deep-ball thrower,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich mentioned. “We mentioned it proper from the very begin. He isn’t afraid to throw it (deep). He needs to throw it (deep).”
Reich on going up towards Belichick, who received 5 Tremendous Bowls: “I’ve an immense quantity of respect for him and his workers and what he is achieved and what they’ve completed. Everyone knows how exhausting that’s (to perform). However we respect everyone, we do not worry anyone. We like our gamers. We like our workers and the way we’re going to game-plan. We’re trying ahead to the problem.”
–Patriots tight finish Rob Gronkowski was cleared Thursday from concussion protocol after being held out of responsibility, or allowed solely restricted motion, since being injured towards the Jacksonville Jaguars two Sundays in the past. Brady opened the postseason with two spectacular performances through which he accomplished 67 p.c of his throws, with 5 touchdowns, no interceptions and a 105 passer ranking. His skill to maintain the ball negates certainly one of Philly’s best strengths, notching 19 interceptions in the course of the common season and two extra within the NFC title win. With Gronkowski on the sphere, Brady has a dominant goal down the center. He additionally has a key slot choice within the surging Danny Amendola (18 catches for 196 yards and two scores this January), a harmful deep menace in Brandin Cooks and a pair of pass-catching again choices in Dion Lewis and James White. That offers the Pats the flexibility to stretch the Eagles’ No. 17 cross protection each vertically and horizontally.
Many imagine the Eagles’ cornerbacks are underrated, however they could be the goal of lots of Brady’s passes on the skin to Cooks, Chris Hogan and others. The most important concern, as all the time, is New England’s offensive line coping with the Eagles’ dominant inside defensive stress.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
–Patriots S Patrick Chung vs. Eagles TE Zach Ertz. Chung is without doubt one of the Patriots’ most versatile and trusted defenders, however he is coming off a troublesome sport, particularly early on towards Jacksonville when he allowed a simple landing to TE Marcedes Lewis. Chung will very a lot be within the combine masking Ertz, who not solely led the Eagles with 74 catches for 824 yards and eight scores in the course of the common season, however had a game-high 93 yards on eight catches within the NFC title sport.
–Patriots Gs Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason, and C David Andrews vs. Eagles DTs Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan. Cox, who had 5.5 sacks in the course of the season, is the linchpin of Philadelphia’s line. Typically unblockable, he can wreck a sport. Jernigan can also be an enormous assist, and has recovered from an sickness. Andrews will doubtless have to assist on Cox, however the line should work to maintain the pocket clear for QB Tom Brady.
–Eagles DE Chris Lengthy. The 32-year-old Lengthy, who received a Tremendous Bowl ring with the Patriots final season, has been a key participant for coordinator Jim Schwartz’s protection. His stress on Minnesota quarterback Case Keenum within the NFC Championship Recreation altered a throw and compelled an interception that was returned for a landing. He additionally recovered a fumble that arrange one other rating.
–Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski enters Tremendous Bowl LII after 12 days in concussion protocol, which ended Thursday. Gronkowski’s well being and availability might be key to the Patriots’ sport plan towards the Eagles, each working and passing. Within the AFC title sport, after Gronkowski was sidelined, the Patriots modified ways and extensive receiver Danny Amendola scored two touchdowns.
–Patriots: QB TOM BRADY is all-time Tremendous Bowl chief in cross yards (2,071), comp. (207), att. (309) & TD passes (15). Set Tremendous Bowl report with 466 cross yards in Tremendous Bowl LI. Is making NFL-record eighth profession Tremendous Bowl begin & is barely beginning QB in league historical past to win 5 Tremendous Bowls. Has received Four Tremendous Bowl MVP awards (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XLIX & LI), most in NFL historical past. Is postseason chief in profession att. (1,416), comp. (892), cross yards (9,721) & cross TDs (68). Is 27-9 (.750) as starter in postseason, most wins by QB in league annals. Led NFL with Four,577 cross yards & ranked 1st in AFC with 32 TD passes, each most by QB at age 40 or older. RB DION LEWIS led group with career-high 896 rush yards. Has 207 scrimmage yards (103.5 per sport) in previous 2 postseason video games. Has 573 scrimmage yards (114.6 per sport) with 5 TDs (Three rush, 2 rec.) in previous 5 (incl. playoffs). RB JAMES WHITE has 6 TDs (Four rush, 2 rec.) in previous Three postseason video games. Since 2016 playoffs, leads NFL with 7 TDs (Four rush, Three rec.) & 44 factors in postseason play. Tied Tremendous Bowl report with Three TDs (2 rush, 1 rec.) final 12 months. TE ROB GRONKOWSKI has 10 profession TD catches in postseason, most amongst TEs in league annals & tied for third most in NFL historical past. Has 856 profession rec. yards in playoffs, most by TE in NFL historical past. Has 7 TD catches in his previous 7 postseason video games. WR DANNY AMENDOLA has 274 rec. yards (91.Three per sport) & Three TD catches in previous Three playoff video games. Had 2 TD catches in 4th Q of AFC Champ Recreation. LB KYLE VAN NOY had 9 tackles, sack & FF in AFC Champ Recreation. LB JAMES HARRISON has 11 profession sacks in postseason, tied for fifth most in NFL historical past.
Eagles: QB NICK FOLES accomplished 26 of 33 (78.eight pct.) for 352 yards with Three TDs & Zero INTs for 141.Four ranking in NFC Champ Recreation. Is simply QB in NFL historical past to have 100+ ranking in every of 1st Three profession postseason begins (min. 20 att/sport). In 2017 postseason, is 2-Zero with 122.1 ranking. Foles is 4th QB in SB period to win 2 postseason video games after making Three or fewer begins in common season. RB LeGARRETTE BLOUNT has rush TD in each playoff video games this season. Has 10 profession rush TDs in postseason (incl. eight with NE), most amongst lively gamers. RB JAY AJAYI has led membership in dashing yards & scrimmage yards in each 2017 playoff video games. Averaging 98.5 scrimmage yards per sport in postseason. WR ALSHON JEFFERY had 2 TD catches in NFC Champ Recreation, incl. 53-yard TD. WR TORREY SMITH had 41-yard rec. TD & TE ZACH ERTZ had eight catches for 93 yards vs. Min. Foles turned 1st QB in NFL historical past with 40+ yard completion to three completely different gamers in single playoff sport: Jeffery (53 yards), WR NELSON AGHOLOR (42) & Smith (41). S MALCOLM JENKINS had 99-yard INT-TD in final sport vs. NE (12/6/15). CB PATRICK ROBINSON had 50-yard INT-TD in NFC Champ Recreation. Rookie DE DEREK BARNETT had sack & FF vs. Min. Since coming into league in 2012, DT FLETCHER COX is 1 of seven NFL DTs with 45+ TFL (45) & 30+ sacks (34). DE CHRIS LONG had FR in NFC Champ Recreation. Lengthy & RB Blount have been each members of NE’s Tremendous Bowl LI profitable group.
PREDICTION: Earlier than he performs till he’s 45-years-old, Brady should survive this Sunday’s sport. Like others, the Eagles will attempt to make Brady uncomfortable within the pocket. Many imagine if Philadelphia will get greater than three sacks, the Eagle will prevail. Possibly so, however the remainder of the equation is that Philadelphia should take away Brady’s skill to dump the ball to Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, or, as he did within the final Tremendous Bowl, to working again James White. If that have been straightforward, the Patriots would not win a lot.