Pick your poison: Super Bowl 52

Written by: Alex Cotterman

Championship Sunday has come and gone and the 52nd Super Bowl matchup is set. The reigning Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots will face off with the Philadelphia Eagles on Feb. 4 for the right to claim NFL supremacy. For some, this matchup is full of intrigue, for others it is a downright snoozefest, facilitated by the rigged NFL. Regardless of your stance, my job is to fill you in on what you need to know before watching the big game.

When: Feb. 4, 2018 at 6:30 p.m.

Where: US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN.

Watch: NBC

What you need to know about the Patriots
The New England Patriots are entering the realm of greatest sports franchise of all-time. New England is playing in their, NFL record, tenth Super Bowl, and their eighth since 2001. At this point, Tom Brady is unquestionably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game and arguably the greatest American athlete in history. At age 40, Brady threw for 4,577 yards along with 32 touchdowns. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is on the short list of greatest coaches of all-time, regardless of sport. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is the most talented of his generation and is sure to make an impact pending the status of the concussion he suffered in the AFC Championship. The Patriots defense is a gaggle of castoffs and nobodies who have come together to form the league’s fifth best scoring defense. Former Super Bowl hero, Malcolm Butler leads the secondary.

What you need to know about the Eagles
The upstart Philadelphia Eagles were one of the most welcome surprises of the 2017 season. Fresh off a disappointing 7-9 season in 2016, Philly soared to a 13-3 record and the NFC’s no.1 seed. The Eagles find themselves in the Super Bowl despite the loss of star quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 14 win over the Los Angeles Rams. Wentz, a legitimate MVP candidate, threw for 3,296 yards and 33 touchdowns through 14 games. The Eagles are now led by solid, but unspectacular, quarterback Nick Foles. In the backfield, the Philadelphia has a solid duo of Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount. The two have combined for 1,315 scrimmage yards and five touchdowns. Philadelphia’s front seven is the strength of the team, led by stellar defensive linemen Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham and linebacker Mychal Kendricks. A young secondary is led by savvy veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins.

How these two matchup
The Patriots far and away have a better quarterback than the Eagles. To be fair, few have a passer that can compare to Brady. The Patriots also have a slight edge at the running back position due to the versatility of Dion Lewis and James White. The Eagles receiving corps is, overall, more talented than that of the Patriots. The Eagles also get the edge on the offensive line. Not that the Patriots line isn’t good, just the Eagles’ as a unit, is better.
On the defensive side of the ball the Eagles front seven, anchored by Cox, Graham and Kendricks, is light years better than the Patriots. Philadelphia’s front seven makes their secondary better by their play up front, regardless, the have the stronger defensive backs.
The final matchup, and arguably most important matchup, is head coach. Seven time Super Bowl champion Bill Belichick clearly has an advantage over second year head coach Doug Pederson.

Prediction: Patriots-26 Eagles-20
I’ll take the Patriots as six-point favorites in a, relatively, low scoring game. The Eagles are a talented team on the rise and if the Eagles had Carson Wentz this might be a different game, however the experience and two-decade long greatness of Belichick/Brady are too much for a young Philly team.

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