Just 13 years ago, the New England Patriots took home the Lombardi Trophy against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX. Two familiar faces remain from the original matchup: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Head Coach Bill Belichick. Those two look to further cement their legacies as the greatest of all time at their respective positions with a sixth championship, while the underdog Eagles are eager to bring the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory home to Philly.
After losing star quarterback Carson Wentz in the regular season, the Eagles head into Super Bowl LII led by a backup quarterback in Nick Foles and a cutting-edge football tactician in Head Coach Doug Pederson. That duo has worked together to form a surprisingly strong passing attack with the help of weapons like Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, and Jay Ajayi.
However, Philly’s defence has been the real difference-maker in these playoffs. Named Football Outsiders’ second-ranked defence, the unit has conceded just 17 points and added three takeaways in its two postseason games. Aside from defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, the Eagles lack the defensive star power of teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars, but make up for it by fielding 11 reliable defenders at all times. Against a New England offence that picks on mismatches as well as any team, to have no such weaknesses is a greater strength than to have a handful of stars.
New England Patriots
The latest edition of New England’s long line of Super Bowl teams includes an interesting blend of faces old and new. As always, Brady and Belichick will lead the Patriots charge, likely with the help of Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola. This season’s addition of Brandin Cooks, on the other hand, brings a new dimension to their passing game.
Stephon Gilmore brings a similar injection of life to the New England defence, pairing with Malcolm Butler to form one of the best cornerback tandems in football. Unfortunately, the strengths stop there for the Patriots defence—likely the worst unit on the field for either team. The unit held its own against limited competition in its run to the Super Bowl, but Pederson’s creativity and offensive weapons will provide a new, formidable challenge.
The Tribune picks: