Since Super Bowl XLVI, every underdog has won the Super Bowl, except for last year's Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons.
Going into that game, the Patriots were 2.5-point favorites over the New York Giants and covered the spread.
This year, for Super Bowl LII, the Patriots are 4.5-point favorites over the Philadelphia Eagles, with the over/under set at 48, per OddsShark.
OddsShark has given a predicted score of 29.3-16.9 in favor of New England. Despite the decimal scoring, it shows the Patriots should win handily.
Using OddsSharks' projected score, we're going to look at a couple other possible game scripts that could shape this game and the outcome.
Patriots Come Out Firing
While this may kind of fall in line with OddsShark's projected scoreline, this is to insinuate things could be even worse for the Eagles.
Here are the scores after every first quarter, starting with Super Bowl XXXVI:
- 3-0 vs. St. Louis Rams
- 0-0 vs. Carolina Panthers
- 0-0 vs. Philadelphia Eagles
- 3-0 vs. New York Giants
- 9-0 vs. New York Giants
- 0-0 vs. Seattle Seahawks
- 0-0 vs. Atlanta Falcons
The result more times than not is a Patriots triumph, but that's beside the point.
It seems New England takes the first quarter to feel the other team out, adjust and then do its thing. Imagine if the Patriots come out and put up 17 first quarter points? This could be a rout.
Chances are they won't do that against a stout Eagles defense, but the point is to explore a few other game scripts here.
This game ends 28-24 in the Patriots' favor.
That would mean the teams fought hard and that it went down to the wire.
We could have a scenario in which the Eagles are down by a possession and need to drive the ball late to beat the Patriots but come up short. Or the Patriots could need to score and consequently drive the length of the field and win.
Neither scenario is hard to imagine given the potency of the Patriots and offense and the strength of the Eagles defense.
As OddsShark's projected score shows, the outlet doesn't think either will occur. But these are the two best teams in the NFL, so surely it could happen.
We've had just three two-possession victories in the Super Bowl over the past 10 years too.
Ajayi Controls the Clock
This would swing in the Eagles' favor, but this is a way for the Eagles to down the Patriots.
There are other things that we hear all the time: pressure Brady, don't commit penalties and capitalize on third downs.
But the Eagles could do the other thing we hear all the time, and that keeps Brady off the field.
Eagles running back Jay Ajayi is a talented, workhorse running back.
The Patriots ranked 30th in DVOA against the run in the regular season.
During this postseason, statistically, the Patriots are better, but in the divisional round, the Tennessee Titans didn't have a shot after the first quarter and couldn't establish the run. However, against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game, New England allowed more than 100 total yards rushing and a touchdown to Leonard Fournette.
Ajayi is the type of running back who could wear the Patriots defense down. And if we have a game wherein Ajayi gets 25 or more carries, the odds are in the Philadelphia's favor.
Long drives, running the ball and throwing only when needed could mean the Eagles outlast the Patriots and win in a fairly low-scoring affair, assuming Philly's defense holds up when it gets on the field.
The Patriots had a tough time against the Jaguars and got bailed out on a few defensive pass-interference calls.
Eagles defensive linemen Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham need to get to Brady and avoid getting chipped—and Cox and Graham have just as good a shot at doing that as anyone.
This game will be close and be decided in the fourth quarter.
Final Score: Patriots 28, Eagles 24.