Super Bowl 2018: Location, Point Spread and Picks for Eagles vs. Patriots

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2018

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) passes against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Don't call Super Bowl LII a rematch of the 2004 Super Bowl clash between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. 

Sure, some things are still the same in 2018. Bill Belichick is still the head coach of the Patriots, as he was in 2004. Tom Brady is still lining up under center, too—and, believe it or not, he's playing better now.

Brady completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 3,692 yards, 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in the 2003-04 season. Heading into Super Bowl LI, he completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 4,577 yards, 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions. 

But these Patriots and Eagles teams have changed a lot in 14 years. The 2004 Patriots were a turnover machine, ranking seventh in the league in interceptions, with 20. The 2018 Patriots, on the other hand, nabbed 12 interceptions, 18th in the league. 

As for the Eagles, well, they head into this Super Bowl with neither Donovan McNabb nor their current franchise quarterback, Carson Wentz. Instead, Philadelphia's first Lombardi Trophy hopes since 2004 will rest on the shoulders of backup quarterback Nick Foles

We'll take a closer look at the matchup between the contemporary Patriots and Eagles, including the early point spread, and pick a winner of Super Bowl LII.

      

Super Bowl LII: How to Watch

Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

Date: February 4

Location: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Time: 6:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBC 

       

Can the Eagles really defeat the Patriots?

The Patriots opened as six-point favorites over the Eagles two weeks ahead of their meeting in Super Bowl LII, according to OddsShark

And while you might be hard-pressed to find anyone who would take the over on that line (does anyone expect the Eagles to beat the Patriots by a touchdown or more?), don't be surprised to see people taking the Eagles straight-up. 

The Patriots will have appeared in three Super Bowls in five years and have won two of those. It's become a foregone conclusion in the 2010s that if the Patriots are appearing in a Super Bowl, they're going to win it. 

Of course, we know that hasn't always been the case. The New York Giants were able to best the Patriots in back-to-back Super Bowls, XLII and XLVI, largely on the strength of their defense.

Could the Eagles do the same thing? Philadelphia boasted the league's No. 4 defense in the regular season, holding opponents to an average of 306.5 yards per game and 18.4 points.

Fletcher Cox and Malcolm Jenkins will do their part to prevent the Patriots from jumping out to an early lead, and they could be especially troublesome for New England's ground game, led by Dion Lewis. 

But even if the Eagles aren't able to limit the Patriots' scoring prowess—Brady and Co. dropped 28.6 points per game on average this season—they can certainly match the Patriots blow for blow.

One of the most balanced teams in the league when it comes to both putting points on the board and keeping them off it, Philadelphia also averaged 28.6 points of its own in the regular season, tying New England. 

And while it's dangerous to put too much stock in the intangibles, the Patriots aren't the only team entering this matchup with a chip on their shoulder. 

Sure, New England has rallied in the face of ESPN writer Seth Wickersham's explosive report of friction in the front office and the locker room in New England, and we've seen the Patriots meet adversity head-on before. (See: Deflategate). 

But the Eagles, led by the coaching efforts of Doug Pederson, have been galvanized by their "underdog" status.

Not only has it given us great television (see below), but it's clearly given this team the momentum it has needed to overcome the loss of Wentz and to best the Minnesota Vikings in the championship game. 

The Eagles have fully embraced their status as underdogs this postseason.
The Eagles have fully embraced their status as underdogs this postseason.Patrick Smith/Getty Images

What Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich have been able to do to address the loss of Wentz and transform this Eagles offense into a squad Foles can find success with has been nothing short of incredible.

That's without even mentioning how the team has been able to almost seamlessly fold Jay Ajayi into the mixture and give the Eagles a new dimension down the stretch. 

As for pulling off the upset over New England, the Jacksonville Jaguars already gave Philadelphia a blueprint. Like Jacksonville, Philadelphia is equipped with an explosive defensive front that can wreak havoc on Brady and his timing. 

Cox and the front four can keep the heat turned up on Brady, which the Jags weren't able to do after the first half. 

And while the Eagles should be able to prevent the Patriots from lighting up the scoreboard, New England's secondary may not be able to do the same thing. If the Foles we saw against Minnesota, who posted a 152.1 passer rating under pressure, shows up, the Patriots will be hard-pressed to outscore the Eagles. 

Pick: Eagles 24, Patriots 20

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