The Sportz Nutt Breaks Down Super Bowl 52

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On Sunday February 4, 2018, the New England Patriots will once again compete for a Super Bowl trophy as they take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Minnesota. Both the top teams in their respective conferences, this features probably the best all around match up of the league’s best teams and gives us probably the most competitive game possible this year. The question then comes to who will win…..and in order to figure that out, let’s look at various offensive positions and how the defense combats them.

QB – Tom Brady vs Nick Foles – advantage: New England

This is a no brainer here as Tom Brady is the greatest QB to ever play the game and is still playing it at a high rate. He makes anyone on offense look better than they are and can figure out any defense before the ball is snapped. He should have most of his targets readily available (more on that soon) and, if the offensive line holds up, he’s the master manipulator of the checkdown, as he can draw the defense deeper than it should be and swing it out to his RB for easy yardage. Quick fact, no player to lead the NFL in passing yardage has ever won a Super Bowl that season.

Nick Foles, on the other hand, is the backup that surprised us all, especially last week, when he carved up Minnesota’s stout defense. He also has a balanced attack on offense and is able to pick and choose his spots, and against a weaker defense in New England, he should be able to do so. What he will have to do though, is change up something from previous weeks. If you give Patriots head coach Belichick 2 weeks to prepare for you, it’s pretty much a guarentee that he’s figured you out. Foles has the history to be able to understand what’s coming, so I’m not too worried there.

RB – Dion Lewis, Brandon Bolden, James White, Rex Burkhead vs Jay Ajayi, LeGarette Blount, Corey Clement – advantage Philadelphia

The Patriots are strong on the ground, but in rather unconventional ways. What I mean is they can run the ball, but their RB also catch ball extremely well, as outlined above. Dion Lewis has been a stud all year long, coming up with key yardage and scores. Rex Burkhead came through mid season and has made the most of his opportunities. James White, whose yardage is minimal at best, always finds a way to score in the playoffs. Their strength is the unpredictability of the group because Belichick is good at disguising who their go-to-guy will be heading into a game, but Philadelphia’s #1 rush defense makes this an uphill battle.

The Eagles made a trade midway through the season to acquire Jay Ajayi, and while his usage has been inconsistent, one can’t ignore his potential nor his production when he is the lead back. He has always been a guy who is under used, but, if given the chance, he has the potential to do some damage against the mediocre Patriots defense. Supplanted by former RB LeGarette Blount and surprisingly productive Corey Clement, I like the chances the Eagles have when they are running the football, which gives Philadelphia a nice alternative if Foles can’t get going.

WR – Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, Chirs Hogan vs Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholar, Torrey Smith – advantage: New England

On paper, this looks to be a lo farther apart than it actually is, but I like the potential on New England’s side of the football. I think that Cooks is primed for a breakout here. Although the Eagles secondary has been very solid in the playoffs, they haven’t been consistent all season, and if there’s one QB to figure them out, it’s Brady. Chris Hogan needs to find his groove in this game, and Amendola can make key catches if necessary. A lot depends on the TE spot as well.

The Eagles are the underdogs here simply because I don’t know if Foles can maintain his momentum. If he does, the WR will have a huge game. Jeffery has been amazing all year (contract year), while Agholar has proven me wrong more than once. Torrey Smith is old enough to know how to read a defense and find his spots. If both teams had Foles as QB, there would be no advantage, but, again, the Patriots’ advantage goes strictly because of Brady.

TE – Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, Dwayne Allen vs Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton – advantage: Philadelphia

If Gronk is out for the game, this advantage is by a mile. Bennett and Allen, though capable of coming up with big plays, can’t and shouldn’t be the focal point of the offense, and thus the WR mentioned above are downgraded. Assuming he s healthy, Gronk is a beast who needs to be double teamed to prevent a disaster for Philly. If you’re new to football, check out some highlights. If you’re not new to football, I’m sure you’ve heard all about Gronk before.

As good as Gronk has been, Ertz has been just about as dominant this season and is capable to taking games over. He can be the focal point of any drive/game and can deliver in a big way. Behind him, when Ertz was hurt, Celek and Burton all stepped in and delivered, which means that this deep TE crew can win the Super Bowl on their own. With a backup in place, it’s always convenient to have the TE as a safety valve for any and all dangers.

K – Stephen Gostkowski vs Jake Elliott – advantage: New England

Simply put, Gostkowski is clutch and has proven it time again. Every Super Bowl that the Patriots have played in while in the Brady Belichick era have been close, and it could come down to a FG one way or the other. I’d take Gostkowski any day of the week, especially Sundays.

Coach – Bill Belichick vs Doug Pederson – advantage: New England

No disrespect to Pederson here, but…..no explanation needed.

Overall: New England 28 Philadelphia 27

I think this game will be a lot closer than the oddsmakers have predicted. I think Gronkowski does play and I think he helps them win. I haven’t believed in Philadelphia as much as others, but, I will for this. The Patriots’ defense has been mediocre at best with positive and negative surges all season. They should come up big when it counts here, but, in the end, Brady wins another MVP and Super Bowl trophy, and the dynasty continues.