The Philadelphia Eagles were the talk of football. A team that had toiled in relative mediocrity for years, suddenly the best team in the NFC. With sophomore sensation Carson Wentz performing at an MVP level, everything was roses in the City of Brotherly Love.
Then Wentz went down.
However, the Eagles have changed on the fly. Changing from the expected NFC champions to underdogs, the team strolled to Super Bowl 52 and a date with the New England Patriots. Once again, the Eagles find themselves as underdogs, Sportsbook at +6 at many sportsbooks. However, the Eagles are still one of the best teams in football – and I argue the best. If you need convincing, here are three reasons why the Philadelphia Eagles will win Super Bowl 52.
Foles Is Actually Good (For The Eagles Offense)
More than a few Eagles fans and pundits threw the baby out with the bathwater when Carson Wentz got hurt. After all, the last time we saw significant starting time from backup quarterback Nick Foles was a train wreck of a season with the then St. Louis Rams in 2015.
However, people did not look beyond the numbers. Let’s face it: Jeff Fisher’s offense with the Rams was genuinely one of the worst things in modern football history. He was completely clueless about how to develop his scheme around his talent. And Foles has talent.
I’m not saying he is ever going to reach the heights of his ridiculous Pro Bowl season under Chip Kelly but that offense understood Foles. Unlike many backups in the league, Foles wants to heave the ball. The sixth-year quarterback has a cannon and loves showing it off. He could not have found a better home than Doug Pederson’s aggressive offense.
Foles has thrown seven touchdowns this season. Those seven scores have gone for an average of 21 yards per catch. That explosive playmaking should worry a Patriots secondary that ranked in the bottom third in the NFL in passing yards allowed and yards per completion.
Foles is going to take his shots. He’s not going to hit all of them but he is going to complete enough of those big plays to give the Eagles the offense they need to beat the Patriots.
One of the major factors to beating the Patriots is keeping Tom Brady off the field. Yeah, it sounds trite but the less time arguably the greatest quarterback in history is on the field, the better for the Eagles.
Luckily, their offense has proven adept at moving the chains. The reason why is because of Philly’s fantastic third-down offense. The Eagles ranked third in the NFL in third-down conversion percentage during the regular season (43.6 percent) but have been nearly unstoppable in the playoffs, going a ridiculous 16-for-27 (59.3 percent).
The Eagles went 10-for-14 while averaging 10.6 yards per play on third down against the Minnesota Vikings.
To put it into perspective, the Eagles went 10-for-14 while averaging 10.6 yards per play on third down against the Minnesota Vikings – a team that owned the best third-down defense in history.
Yes, the Patriots have been good on third-down defense during the postseason but opposition plays a significant part. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans ranked 19th and 21st in the NFL in third-down conversion during the regular season – two of the bottom three to make the playoffs.
The Eagles can – and will – succeed on third down. Third-down success equals longer drives, which equals less Brady, which equals victory for the Eagles.
The Eagles Have The Best Defensive Line In Football
But what happens when Brady is on the field? Well, the 40-year-old will need to compete against the best defensive line in football. Sure, a lot of people wanted to anoint “Sacksonville” the best but the Eagles’ depth and versatility make them the most dangerous defensive front in the league.
The defensive line allowed the fewest rushing yards in the NFL and the least amount of time to opposing quarterbacks in the pocket – while their constant pressure helped Philly record the fourth-most takeaways during the regular season.
What is even more impressive? The depth along the front four. Only one defensive lineman (Brandon Graham) played at least 60 percent of the team’s snaps during the regular season. That depth has kept the likes of Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry fresh for the playoffs where defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz can set them loose on opposing offenses.
This will be absolutely vital, as pressuring Brady is the key to beating the Patriots offense. Since Brady returned from his season-Sportsbook four-game suspension last season, the Patriots are 20-2 when Brady is sacked two or fewer times. For comparison’s sake, the Pats are 8-3 in that same span when Brady is sacked three or more times. Though that is still a great winning percentage, it drops from 91 percent to 72.7 percent when the defense can get after Brady.
The Patriots offense has spent all season winning the war of attrition in the trenches, getting better as games go on. However, the Eagles’ fresh defensive front mixed with their depth means Philly will be bullying its way into the backfield during the Super Bowl.
Despite these convincing points, Gilles Gallant disagrees and thinks the New England Patriots will win Super Bowl 52. You can check out his argument here.