Super Bowl 52 Preview by Jim Feist

Love or hate them, it’s an amazing accomplishment with 32 NFL teams that the New England Patriots have been in the Super Bowl 10 times now. In addition, it’s been eight times with the same Owner, Coach and quarterback. This has been a magic carpet ride for Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Robert Kraft and the fans in the Northeast.

Let’s take a closer look at these two teams that will be center stage in Super Bowl LII from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Minnesota Vikings became the closest team ever to play in the Super Bowl on their own home field. But, the Eagles had a little something to say about that and spoiled the Vikings dream.

Offense:

We have to give the edge to the Patriots here, who have been consistently at the top of the offensive rankings year in and year out for the last 10 seasons.  The Patriots have Brady and let’s face it, there isn’t a deficit that that Patriots seemingly can’t overcome. They came back from 28-3 in last year’s Super Bowl to win and came back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter against the Jaguars to win. Arguably Brady is the best quarterback to play the game. The Eagles might have had a match in Carson Wentz, but as we all know he is out and Nick Foles is leading the team. One question is whether Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (Concussion) will be available for this game. Right now he’s listed as questionable and he is obviously a key target for Brady and this Patriots offense.

Defense:

While the Pats have shown ability to bend but not break, they are not ranked very high on defense. I’d say the unit is more of an average or a little less than average defense. This is especially true since the schedule they play has been ranked as near the bottom of the league. The edge on defense has to go to the Eagles. They have played a much tougher schedule and have been much more impressive doing so. During the postseason, the Eagles allowed just 8.5 points per game average in their two games while New England allowed 17 points per game.

Coaching:

This one has to go to the master, Belichick. No matter who would be on the other sideline, Bill has to have the edge here. Coach has had the ability to put the right pieces together at the right time. You witnessed just that at halftime of the Jaguars game where he made adjustments and was able to take away what was working for the Jags in the first half.  He doesn’t always have the best talent on the field but he sure does the best with what he has.

Quarterback:

Big edge again goes to the Patriots. Brady vs Foles looks like a complete mismatch, when looking at experience in high profile games. Brady is a genius under pressure and a coach on the field. There is only one other QB in the league at this time that could be put in his class and he (Arron Rodgers) is not playing on Sunday.  Even though Brady has a big edge over Foles in several areas, there are intangible areas that have to be considered. Foles had a monster game against a very good, if not the best defense in the league last week in the Vikings.

Several years ago when Foles played under coach Chip Kelly, he also had some monster stats. In that year he had 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Those are incredible numbers by anyone’s standards.  Can Nick Foles be that guy again, on the biggest stage in sports, vs the best big game team any of us has seen in our lifetimes? Keep in mind in the seven previous Super Bowls that the Pats have played in, the final margin has been four points or less in all but last year’s 6-point overtime win vs the Falcons.

The Pats have been good enough to win all but two times, but they have not been dominant. That leaves open possibilities here for the Eagles. They will have to overcome the magic of Belichick and Brady, but it’s possible. The current line has installed the Patriots as five-point favorites and the total at 48.  Five isn’t a key number in football, as three and four are key numbers, so we could see this number fluctuate between four and six, but I doubt we’ll see this number hit a key number.

Don’t forget, there are more betting opportunities in the Super Bowl than any other game during the season, so there is money to be made on prop wagers and many others.

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