The Case For the Patriots: How They Can Win, Keys to the Game

Welcome to my second article in my series of previews for Super Bowl LII, where the Patriots will try to defend their title and win a 6th Lombardi Trophy.

Here is my schedule for the series.  Articles that are already up include links to the article.

Super Bowl LII – Patriots vs. Eagles: Boston Sports Mania Preview

Monday, Jan. 29: Championship Weekend Recap and Super Bowl LII First Look

Tuesday, Jan. 30: The Case for the Patriots: How They Can Win, Keys to the Game

Wednesday, Jan. 31: The Case for the Eagles: How They Can Win, Keys to the Game

Thursday, Feb. 1: Super Bowl Fast Facts and Their Significance

Friday, Feb. 2: Super Bowl LII: The Final Pick and Projected Stats

Saturday, Feb. 3: Super Bowl LII Video Preview and iMovie Trailer

Sunday, Feb. 4: Watch the big game and stay tuned for my Recap!

 

The Case for the Pats

The Patriots come in to this game with momentum, completing a 4th quarter comeback to advance to the Super Bowl.  QB Tom Brady’s thumb did not appear to be a problem during the AFC title game.  However, TE Rob Gronkowski left the game after a hit to the head, which we later  found out had caused a concussion.  It was tough for Brady and the Pats to succeed without both Gronk and WR Julian Edelman (Missed 2017 with Torn ACL).  The good news is that Gronk is practicing again, which means he’s on pace to clear the NFL concussion protocol and return for this Sunday’s big game.

The Pats are known to do well against inexperienced QBs, and whether this was the case or not, the Eagles are already questioning whether Nick Foles will even put up numbers similar to what he did in the NFC title game, as he led the Eagles to blowout the Vikings, 38-7.  Foles tossed 3 TDs and over 350 yards.  This was the first game that he made that big an impact.  Will he keep up the good work, or will the carriage turn back into a pumpkin for Foles?  Regardless of Foles’ performance, the Eagles are a good team.  They give their QBs better protection than Blake Bortles got last week against New England, and the Pats were held to just two sacks against Jacksonville.

They also have almost as good a run game as Jacksonville does, between the stars like Jay Ajayi, the young guns like Corey Clement, and their dependable end zone back in LeGarrette Blount.  Will the Pats struggle as much as they did against Leonard Fournette and Corey Grant?  These dark horses, or “underdogs” as called by Lane Johnson, are not to be underestimated.  Bill Belichick was not about to take them lightly either.  This is a playoff game.

There is one thing that could mess Foles up, even in the midst of a big game, the Patriots secondary. Will CB Stephon Gillmore finally get the interception he is long overdue for?  He’s made some great plays, but an interception for Gillmore hasn’t been seen for a long time.  The Eagles do have a great defense too, though, so just because the Patriots get the ball, it doesn’t mean it will be easy.  DT Fletcher Cox could be a threat to TB12 among others in the Eagles front seven, and the Pats o-line is especially weak on the right side, where they’ll be without Marcus Cannon.

But with Gronk in the game, I do think they’ll be able to beat out the Eagles secondary, as long as Brady is well protected.  In order to win, the Pats will need to do so.  They’ll also need to keep Nick Foles’ receivers well covered and their secondary needs to have another big game.  That way, whether it’s elite Nick Foles or struggling Nick Foles that shows up for the Super Bowl, the Pats have him covered.  They’ll need to make sure the Eagles don’t control the turnover battle, as fumbles, picks and strip sacks are the last thing they need.  Lastly, they’ll need a big game out of other receivers besides Gronk.  If Gronk plays, he’ll have just recovered from a concussion.  They’ll also have to depend on guys like Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola.  Mixing up who they throw to will confuse the Eagles D, but it will only be effective if multiple receivers perform well.

Will the Patriots win Super Bowl LII?  Stay tuned for my Super Bowl LII Predictions this Friday to find out what I think.

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