2017 Reg Season 29-36
2017 Playoffs: 1-1
New England Patriots vs Philadelphia Eagles
1) Eagles +3 1st Half
2) Eagles +5 Full Game
First off, yes I am an Eagles fan but if you go through this blog you will see that I have bet against the Eagles many times and even in the Superbowl if I thought the Eagles were the wrong side I would just lay off the game.
*On the first half bet, the Patriots have been slow starters in each of their Superbowl appearances and have remarkably not scored in in the 1st quarter in any of the previous Superbowls.
I also expect the Eagles to have success on offense early, the Patriots are usually able to adjust at halftime and slow teams down but Eagles getting a full FG in first half is good value here.
When you look at the things that give the Patriots trouble, the Eagles are able to do a lot of them.
- Pressure from front 4 – Almost every QB is going to do worse vs pressure but with Brady’s ability to diagnose blitzes pre-snap getting pressure with 4 is vital and if you can get pressure inside that is even better. The Eagles have one of the deepest and best defensive lines in the league and with Fletcher Cox they have the 2ndbest inside pass rusher in the NFL. On 3rd and longs that pass rush is even more dangerous as they kick Brandon Graham inside and rush Chris Long and Vinny Curry or Derek Burnett outside. The fact that Eagles will rotate 7 defensive lineman will also keep them from wearing down. We saw in last year’s SB the Falcons came out strong getting pressure but got worn out in the 4th Q, it also happened with the Jags in the AFC championship game.
- Control Line of Scrimmage- The Eagles offensive line is one of the best in football and I believe the best in getting to the second level. The Patriots defensive line ranked 30th in DVOA, 30th vs the run and 22nd vs the pass and their linebackers are not a physical group. The Eagles should be able to have success in the run game and not just help control the clock but also set up some play action opportunities. Foles has only been sacked twice so far in playoffs and last week the Vikings pass rush was much more intimidating than the Patriots.
- Run Pass Option plays- RPO’s have been the talk of the season and playoffs and the Patriots have had more trouble vs those plays than almost anyone. Last week the Jags who don’t use RPO’s very often called 4 in the first half and each play resulted in at least 12 yards. Of course we remember what happened in the season opener vs the Chiefs where Andy Reid and Alex Smith used RPO’s to put up over 500 yards and 42 points on the Pats in a shocking week 1 upset. RPO’s have been a big part of the Eagles offense all year and especially for Nick Foles. Mike Lombardi a close associate of Bill Belichek talked after the AFC championship game that the Jags simply ran out of plays, Spread offense and RPO’s just weren’t what they do and even though those plays were working they couldn’t keep it up all game but he Eagles can.
- Aggressive Play Calling- One of the things that always seems to happen in Patriots games is as the game gets into the second half, their opponents start getting tighter and more conservative. One of the things that impresses me most about Doug Pederson is he remains aggressive all game long. We saw this in the NFC championship when he attacked the Vikings at the end of the 1st half rather leading to a TD rather than being content with a 1st half lead like the Jags did. The Eagles have gone for more 4th downs than any team in the league, Pederson goes by the analytics and I believe that will be very beneficial in this game.
The big thing we can’t know is will we see good Nick Foles from the last 6 quarters, the one from the Giants game with 4TDs or bad nick Foles we saw vs the Raiders and 1st half of the Vikings game? One thing I feel good about is that Doug Pederson and Frank Reich and that staff will put Foles in position be very successful. The Eagles have some very good matchups, Eartz vs Chung, Agholor vs Rowe and the line should be able to give Foles an the Run game lots of time and space.
Tom Brady is the GOAT and regardless of how good the Eagles defensive line is we know Brady will move the ball and put up points. The Eagles LB’s will get targeted in pass game though I expect them to play almost no base and be in nickel with Patrick Robinson, big nickel with 3rd safety Corey Graham or dime most of the game. Malcolm Jenkins will be tasked with covering Gronk and while Jenkins is about as good a matchup as you could hope for, Gronk will get his, he is just too big and too fast. The Eagles will need to get to Brady and will probably need a turnover or 2 but they are certainly capable of doing that.
I expect a close, relatively high scoring game 45-50 total points. While I certainly understand the feeling that Brady and Belichek don’t lose in those types of games, this Eagles team does all of the things that the teams that have beat the Patriots do. Every great run ends at some point, I will take the Eagles winning here 27-24.