Updated 2/5/2018: Most of what we predicted for Super Bowl 52 came true. For starters, the “48” combined point total estimation for the over/under bets was off. These 2 teams were involved in high scoring games this postseason. Before heading into this game, we knew defense was going to be a factor, but when both offenses have as much firepower as these teams do, you must expect a high number of touchdowns. At halftime of Super Bowl 52, the score sat at 22-12, a combined 34 points. Bettors had to have known that at least 14 more points would be scored in the second half. NE is more of a second half team anyway.
We also noticed a trend of underdogs winning and teams failing to cover their spreads. Well, the point spread was narrowed to 4.5, though the Pats were still favored. As you saw in the Super Bowl, the Eagles bested the sportsbooks yet again and New England failed to cover.
Regarding the actual game and how things played out, the Patriots failed to capitalize on a couple of things we mentioned. The run game needed to get going, particularly with RB Dion Lewis. He was more involved in terms of carries (9), but he only had 39 yards. This 4.3 average is not enough for your leading running back. Thankfully, James White averaged 6.4 and managed a touchdown on 7 carries for 45. One thing we did not account for was RB Rex Burkhead. The third running back option had a 46-yard reception on top of his 3 rushes for 18 yards.
On the receiving front, we knew that Gronk was going to be the #1 guy if available and he may not look that way on paper, but Gronk singlehandedly pulled them back into this game. There was a drive where Gronkowski made nearly every play and finished it off with a touchdown. Gronkowski was often tightly covered and had several passes broken up, but Tom Brady capitalized on each of his mismatches. Brandin Cooks ended up leaving the game with a heady injury, so he wasn’t able to be as effective as we predicted. However, Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan were there to make up for it. The 2 receivers combined for 280 yards and a touchdown. One thing we didn’t account for, and this goes back to Burkhead, is the RBs contributing to receptions. James White also had 2 catches for 21 yards.
The defense needed to come prepared and while they held out in the beginning of the game, they soon began to falter. NE’s defense seems toughest on goal-line stands. This was true on multiple occasions, but the Eagles have too many weapons. We predicted Philly would throw deep on them and that happened several times. They couldn’t pressure Foles while covering all available receivers. They also couldn’t stop Philly’s running game from explosive bursts.
The Eagles needed to come out aggressive and they did just that. The defense flustered Brady with their pass rush in the beginning of the game and limited his involvement. On the offensive front, Foles looked comfortable and made huge throws early. The run game was going strong throughout the game. There were a couple sketchy calls that put the Eagles in trouble, but they pulled it off. We didn’t expect Corey Clement to have as big of an impact as he did. Clement led all receivers with 100 yards and a touchdown on 4 catches. The rest of the receiving corps performed as expected with Nelson Agholor, Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz and Torrey Smith all contributing.
Philly’s defense shifted the strategy at some point, which is the common pitfall of anyone playing the Patriots. They dropped back on their pass rush and focused on man-to-man coverage. This allowed Brady to get his team back in the game. They brought back the pass rush when it mattered most and forced a turnover late in the game to seal the victory.
Something we didn’t account for with both teams was the play-calling. There were multiple attempts on fourth down, 2-point conversion attempts and trick plays. Not all of these worked out, but it was evident both teams were pulling out all the stops to get a victory.
Super Bowl 52 Preview
Updated January 2018 – Super Bowl LII is finally here. The New England Patriots will defend their title against the Philadelphia Eagles. Sunday, February 4, is the date. The US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is the venue. This game will likely be a defensive battle, with both teams boasting strong defensive units. From an offensive standpoint, we have QB Tom Brady playing in his 8th Super Bowl. On the other hand, QB Nick Foles has been a backup for most of his career and is in his first Super Bowl. If you are interested in wagering on Super Bowl LII, you can find competitive lines at legal Super Bowl betting sites operating offshore.
If you look at most sportsbooks, the New England Patriots are favored to win, but the margin is much closer than it has been in previous games. They are 5.5-favorites to win it all. Interestingly enough, there has been a recent trend of underdogs winning games and favored teams failing to cover their spreads. They were 8-point favorites against Jacksonville and failed to cover that spread at home. The Eagles are an interesting team regarding betting, as they were at +3800 odds to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the 2017-2018 season. They now sit at a +185 wager. (Keep in mind that the Super Bowl betting odds may vary slightly across different sportsbooks – which is why its a good idea to shop around before placing your bets.) The total point bet for over/unders is 48, which is a moderate estimation given the nature of these Playoffs. After all, anything can happen in this league.
The Patriots had the largest comeback in Super Bowl history last year against the Atlanta Falcons. They managed to come back from a 10-point deficit in the AFC Championship game, so they have shown they can never be ruled out. If they win Super Bowl LII, they will be the first back-to-back champs in 13 years. In what will likely be the last year of the Brady-Belichick era, a championship would be special. The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl, so this game means a lot to them, especially since they have been discounted by analysts ever since their starting QB went down.
Let’s start with New England. Coach Belichick and Tom Brady are no stranger to Super Bowls. This will be their 8th together and a chance for a 6th ring. The Patriots dynasty has been rampant in the AFC for years, often only losing to the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers. At the beginning of this season, they lost WR Julian Edelman to a torn ACL in practice. Even though this was a major loss, the Pats have enough depth to contend. They finished the regular season 13-3 and clinched a first-round bye in the Playoffs, along with their division title. Their first postseason game was against the Tennessee Titans. The Pats destroyed 35-14 and booked their ticket to another AFC Championship.
The AFC Championship saw the Patriots host the Jacksonville Jaguars, an up-and-coming team with something to prove. The Pats were favored at home, but Jacksonville came out looking to make a statement. They went on to a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, but Tom Brady and the Pats know a thing or 2 about fourth quarter comebacks. TE Rob Gronkowski was out with a concussion in the first half, but WR Danny Amendola stepped up to the plate for the Pats when they needed him most. Amendola finished with 7 catches for 84 yards and 2 touchdowns, the last of which sealed their victory. Brandin Cooks, a new asset acquired from the Saints in the offseason, also had a great game with 100 yards on 6 catches. Cooks provides an X-factor with the loss of Edelman. The Patriots’ defense looked great as well, more so in the second half, but they were unable to snuff any sort of Jaguars miracle to steal a victory.
The Philadelphia Eagles have been enjoying somewhat of a Cinderella story season. They also finished 13-3 and clinched the NFC East division. Second-year QB Carson Wentz got them through most of the season and looked incredible doing so. His numbers were that of an elite veteran QB. The Eagles had whispers of “Super Bowl contenders” floating around them from early on, however those odds were wiped once Wentz tore his ACL in a game against the Rams. Next in line was backup QB Nick Foles, whose past in the NFL is not one of success. Foles has been riding the bench on several different teams for most of his career. Considered an afterthought, no one believed he would be able to keep the Eagles’ momentum going. However, the Eagles only dropped one game after he took the helm. They clinched the top seed in the Playoffs and a first-round bye.
Their first game was against the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons were nowhere near their level from last year, yet they were still favored after an impressive win against the Rams. Everyone believed Atlanta would make it to the Super Bowl (we even made the bold prediction) and avenge their embarrassing loss from last season. The Eagles’ defense, which has been strong all season, held QB Matt Ryan and the Atlanta offense to only 10 points. The offense put up 15 to advance to the next round.
The NFC Championship game saw the Minnesota Vikings come to town. The Vikings had a fantastic year up to this point under QB Case Keenum, someone who actually played on the same team as Foles back in the day. WR Stefon Diggs helped the Vikings beat the Saints in the Divisional Round on a last-minute touchdown that sent the stadium into pandemonium. This would not be the case in Philadelphia.
Minnesota scored the first touchdown of the game, but it was all Philly from there. Foles 352 passing yards and 3 touchdowns on 26 successful throws. The dual-combo run threat of Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount amassed 94 yards and a touchdown. Foles’ receiving corps stood out as well, with Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor all contributing. The Eagles showed tenacity with several trick plays and Foles showed he can keep cool under pressure and make plays out of nothing. Their defense was the highlight of the game, as they kept Minnesota to only 7 points. They shut down their run game, receivers and had 2 interceptions on Keenum, 1 of which returned for a touchdown.
New England is favored in Super Bowl LII, but they need to work on some things. For starters, they need to do better on third downs. They also need to RB Dion Lewis more effective, otherwise they’ll be looking to Amendola, Cooks and Hogan to make the big plays. Gronkowski will likely be back, so their #1 target will be available. The defense needs to come prepared too, because where the Jags kept the offense to short runs and throws, the Eagles have the power to throw downfield.
For the Eagles, they need to come out aggressive, at least defensively. As you can see from the first half of the AFC Championship, Brady does not do well under pressure. If they can be relentless on defense, they’ll give the offense an opportunity to get ahead. The biggest thing the Eagles can do is maintain their aggression throughout the entire game. If you look back to Super Bowl LI and this year’s AFC Championship, you’ll see teams get out to a lead and then drop back and give Brady time and space to make plays. The Patriots have shown they can come back, so why give them the opportunity to do so? One thing is certain, this Super Bowl will likely be a nail-biter—no blowouts this time around.