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Eagles Riding Momentum to Super Bowl LII

Eagles Riding Momentum to Super Bowl LII The Eagles enter Super Bowl LII as the underdog and what else is new? It’s the third straight game that Las Vegas isn’t showing faith in the Eagles, who opened as a six-point underdog to the New England Patriots.

This is a Patriots team that is vulnerable, as Jacksonville gave New England all it could handle in the AFC championship.

That said, the Patriots have the best quarterback-coach combo in the history of the NFL with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

The worries about Brady having stitches in his hand were alleviated during the Pats 24-20 win over Jacksonville in the AFC title game. He completed 26 of 38 passes for 290 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 108.4 passer rating.

As great as Brady has been by winning five of seven Super Bowls, his career Super Bowl passer rating of 90.1 is good, but not off-the charts.

What has been of the charts is the playoff passer rating of Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, albeit in only a three-game sample.

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Foles has a 116.4 passer rating in the three games. Even though he once threw seven touchdown passes in a regular season game, Foles is coming off his best career performance during the Eagles 38-7 NFC championship win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Foles completed 26 of 33 passes for 352 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 141.4 passer rating.

Of course, now Foles has to face Brady, not only the greatest quarterback in NFL history but one of the best clutch quarterbacks as well.

He led the Pats back from a 20-10 deficit against a Jacksonville defense that is among the best in the NFL.

And he did it without Rob Gronkowski, who missed most of the game with a concussion. Gronkowski returned to practice before the Pats departed for Minnesota for the Super Bowl and if he is 100 percent, he will pose a major problem.

Gronkowski had one reception for 21 yards against Jacksonville and with him on the sidelines for a majority of the game, the Patriots still had enough to win.

New England has an excellent starting receiving duo. Danny Amendola, a former member of the Eagles practice squad, caught fourth quarter touchdown passes of 9 and 4 yards in the win over Jacksonville. He finished with seven receptions for 84 yards and the two scores.

Brandin Cooks, who had six receptions for 100 yards against Jacksonville, is a deep threat who can stretch the defenses.

The Patriots don’t have great receiving depth, but running back Dion Lewis, a former Eagle, is a threat coming out of the backfield.

Here is why New England is vulnerable – as well as the Pats can throw the ball, they don’t have a strong running game. The Pats rushed for just 46 yards in 19 carries against Jacksonville.

Brady has shown that when teams put the heat on him, the way the New York Giants did in winning two Super Bowls over the Patriots, that he can be rattled. If New England can’t run the ball, it will allow the Eagles pass rushers to tee off on Brady.

And that brings us to the most important point – the Eagles have a major advantage on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

They have the type of defense line that can put the heat on Brady. Three-time Pro Bowl tackle Fletcher Cox, has had two dominant playoff games this year as has the entire unit. Safety Malcolm Jenkins has been playing at his Pro Bowl level against both the pass and the run in the playoffs.

On the other side of the ball, the Eagles offensive line, led by center Jason Kelce, has the ability to control the clock against a questionable Pats defensive line.

The Eagles should be able to run the ball, which will open opportunities for Foles and the passing game.

Both teams have excellent kickers, the Eagles with rookie Jake Elliott and the Pats with veteran Stephen Gostowski.

The game very well could come down to the kicking game and both teams have a player capable of hitting the clutch late field goal.

This should be a great game, but the Eagles aren’t in the mode of “just happy to be there.”

The Eagles have a legitimate chance to win the game and bring Philadelphia its first ever Super Bowl title.


Author: Marc Narducci

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