Super Bowl 2018: Date, Kickoff Time and Eagles vs. Patriots Favorite

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistJanuary 30, 2018

The New England Patriots are favored to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII.
The New England Patriots are favored to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII.Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Football fans and pundits are not letting facts ruin a good Super Bowl LII narrative.

The New England Patriots are playoff regulars fighting for their second consecutive title. The Philadelphia Eagles are gunning for their first-ever Super Bowl triumph, and they must earn it behind their second-string quarterback. It's a David vs. Goliath tale for the ages.

Or is it? Both teams earned their conferences' top seeds by finishing 13-3 with a plus-162 point differential. Because of New England's defensive woes, Philadelphia ranked one spot higher (No. 5) in Football OutsidersDefense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA).

With a healthy Carson Wentz, the Eagles would deserve to be favorites. Instead, according to OddsShark, the Patriots hold a 4.5-point edge.

Although Tom Brady gives New England a gigantic advantage under center, Nick Foles just registered 352 passing yards, three touchdowns and a 141.8 quarterback rating in the NFC Championship Game. The Patriots, meanwhile, needed a late rally to fend off Blake Bortles' Jacksonville Jaguars.

Is this really an epic underdog story, or it merely a case of everyone forgetting that a quarterback shares the field with 21 other players?


Super Bowl LII

Date: Sunday, Feb. 4

Kickoff Time: 6:30 p.m. ET

Location: U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis


Point Spread: Patriots -4.5


The Philadelphia Eagles have embraced their underdog status throughout the playoffs.
The Philadelphia Eagles have embraced their underdog status throughout the playoffs.Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Eagles clearly have no qualms occupying the underdog role. Lane Johnson has embraced the label by wearing dog masks throughout their playoff run. He even helped raised over $100,000 for Philadelphia schools through the trend.

Following their dominant win over the Minnesota Vikings, the offensive tackle set his sights on taking down a legend.

"Hey, Tom Brady. Pretty boy Tom Brady," Johnson said, per ESPN.com's Tim McManus. "He's the best quarterback of all time, so, nothing I'd like to do more than dethrone that guy."

That "pretty boy" tossed a pair of fourth-quarter passing touchdowns to erase a 20-10 deficit against Jacksonville. With the five-time Super Bowl champion at the helm, New England has lost just four times in the past two years.

A team led by Foles had no chance of earning favored billing over a squad headlined by Brady. Yet the Eagles have already twice defied the oddsmakers with home upsets over the Atlanta Falcons and Vikings. They must again prove the betting lines wrong on Sunday.

As noted by Josh Dubow of the Associated Press, they would join their upcoming opponent and a longtime NFC East rival in underdog galore by besting the favored Patriots:

Josh Dubow @JoshDubowAP

Patriots open as 5 1/2-point favorite in SB, 3rd straight playoff game w/ Eagles as underdog. Teams since 1980 to win 3+ playoff games as underdog in same postseason per @pfref: 2007 Giants, 1980 #Raiders: 4 1985 Patriots, 2011 Giants, 2012 Ravens: 3

Like the 2007 New York Giants, Philadelphia wields an aggressive defense capable of disrupting Brady's pocket. Pro Football focus highlighted the NFC champion's success at pressuring opposing quarterbacks:

Pro Football Focus @PFF

No defense has generated more pressure than the Philadelphia Eagles https://t.co/IEmpncP16O

Yet the Eagles have more in common with an older Giants squad. Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe uncovered the astonishing parallels:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

The Eagles are the 1990 New York Giants, @AdamLefkoe has a theory that you need to hear (via @SimmsandLefkoe) https://t.co/XT0ljdt7b8

The line has dropped a point from its 5.5-point opening. Perhaps bettors are reticent to discount the Eagles coming off a 38-7 annihilation over Minnesota.

Or maybe they see blemishes in the Patriots, who ended the season brandishing the NFL's fourth-worst defense. Only the Giants, Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers allowed more total yards.

The unit's shakiness showed when surrendering 293 passing yards to Blake Bortles, who recorded 301 combined passing yards in Jacksonville's two playoff wins.

Foles does not need to play another near-perfect game to complete an improbable championship run. He just needs to be better than the guy who fell from grace with a 56.4 completion percentage and 69.0 quarterback rating in 2015.

If he meets in the middle and matches a 60.1 career completion percentage and 87.4 passer rating, the Eagles will give the Patriots a tough fight.