Super Bowl 2018: Eagles vs. Patriots Start Time, Odds Favorite and PredictionsJanuary 22, 2018
Opponents that underestimate the Philadelphia Eagles are taking a big risk.
The Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings were both favored on the road over the Eagles, and both were beaten by the NFC's No. 1 seed.
Bill Belichick is taking the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl for the eighth time, and they didn't get to this position by taking any opponent lightly.
New England was pushed hard by the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, and the Patriots were forced to play come-from-behind football once again. The Patriots, who came back from a 28-3 second-half deficit to beat the Falcons 34-28 in Super Bowl LI, were once again facing defeat in the AFC title game.
Trailing 20-10 in the fourth quarter after a Josh Lambo field goal, Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes to wideout Danny Amendola to earn a 24-20 victory.
Just as the New England offense came to life in the fourth quarter, so did defensive coordinator Matt Patricia's unit. The defense had been attacked for three quarters by Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles, who threw for 293 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
However, the New England defense came through when it mattered. After the first Brady-to-Amendola touchdown, the Patriots forced a three-and-out, and after they took a lead with two minutes and 48 seconds remaining, New England's defense came up with a sack on third down and a spectacular fourth-down pass defensed by Stephon Gilmore to get the ball back with 1:48 remaining.
Belichick was effusive in his praise for Amendola—a rarity for the head coach.
"Danny's a tremendous competitor, made some big plays for us," Belichick said, per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. The New England head coach continued:
"When you look up 'good football player' in the dictionary, his picture is right there beside it. It doesn't matter what it is. Fielding punts, third down, big play, red area, onside kick recovery—whatever we need him to do. He's just a tremendous player, very instinctive, tough, great concentration. He had some big plays for us today."
While the Patriots had to go all-out to win the AFC title and get to the eighth Super Bowl of the Belichick-Brady era, the Eagles were dominant in their 38-7 win over the Vikings.
Philadelphia allowed Minnesota to go downfield and score on the opening possession of the game but played shutdown defense the rest of the way and frustrated the Vikings.
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles went above and beyond expectations, as he completed 26 of 33 passes for 352 yards with three touchdowns, and he was determined against the top-ranked Minnesota defense for 60 minutes.
Tight end Zach Ertz caught eight passes for 93 yards, while Alshon Jeffery had five receptions for 85 yards and two touchdowns.
The Eagles were the No. 1 team in the NFC for the majority of the season, and they appear prepared for the title game against the Patriots.
The Super Bowl will be played February 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis at 6:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by NBC. The Patriots are favored by five points with a total of 48 points, according to OddsShark.
Philadelphia appeared to be every bit New England's equal throughout the regular season. That's when Carson Wentz was healthy, and the Eagles' No. 1 quarterback appeared to be a strong contender for the MVP award.
However, when Wentz suffered an ACL injury in Week 14 against the Los Angeles Rams, the Eagles' season went into scramble mode.
They appeared to be struggling before the playoffs got underway, but Foles responded with much-improved play in the divisional-round win over the Falcons and a dominant performance against the Vikings.
As a result, the Eagles should be able to battle the Patriots on nearly even terms. It would not be a surprise to see this as a high-scoring game that is close in the fourth quarter.
That's when New England should break away. Brady has a way of taking over a game in the final stages, and it should happen again. New England takes its sixth Super Bowl of the Belichick-Brady era.
Prediction: New England 37, Philadelphia 30