The BIG GAME is almost here. It’s a game so big that some may dare to call it the biggest game of the season. The 2017 season comes to a close at 5:30 p.m. CST on Sunday with the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots smacking heads together in Minneapolis. Here are the masthead’s picks for this upcoming clash.
Put me down for the Pats. Tom Brady doesn’t lose Super Bowls unless Eli Manning is in the stadium, and I don’t see no Eli in that stadium.
New England 30 - Philadelphia 24.
Philly comes out hot, gets cocky, and then Darth Belichick and Jar Jar Brady turn it on and light them up.
New England 31 - Philadelphia 17.
The Eagles have defied the odds to this point, impressively getting through the NFL Playoffs without MVP candidate Carson Wentz. I never would have guessed Nick Foles could do just enough to keep them afloat, but it turns out I have terribly underrated the Philly defense. Ignoring the emotional elements of this match-up, such as the “underdog” status the Eagles have embraced - I just don’t think there’s any substitute for the comfort and familiarity the Patriots have in this spot. Tangibly, Brady is just going to beat up on any defense - though you can’t quantify it, I do think there’s a real on-field advantage for the Patriots as a result of how this is such old hat to so many of them. The Eagles battle back late, but the Patriots score a late touchdown to put it out of reach in a game not as close as my predicted score would indicate.
New England 29 - Philadelphia 23.
Doug Pederson does a great job game-planning for a well below average Patriots defense, and the Eagles shock in a shoot-out of 45-41. Because eff Tom Brady, that’s why.
Philadelphia 45 - New England 41.
Given the circumstances, I cannot see the Eagles flying out of Minnesota with the Lombardi Trophy. Give Bill Belichick two weeks to prepare and it will seem like he has a sixth sense for what plays you are calling. The first quarter will be very calm. Like most games and Super Bowls the Pats play in, the first quarter is like a boxer getting a feel for the battle and seeing what his opponent has. The Patriots will not throw any big punches until the second half. Third quarter, the Pats start hammering away at the Philly defense and it becomes a drubbing until Tom Brady puts another ring on his finger and hoists the Lombardi for a sixth time. As an advertising guy, I may be more interested when the game is not playing. The pre-shown ads look hilarious and anything worth $5 million is worth my attention.
New England 32 - Philadelphia 20.
The Patriots take a lead into halftime, but Eagles pull out a play in the fourth quarter to go up 24-21, and then Brady does his thing. We’ve seen this story before; it doesn’t necessarily make it boring, because it’s absolutely incredible what Brady actually does. He makes come-from-behind Super Bowl wins look so effortless and normal. I’m not rooting for or against anybody, but I’m rooting for the safety of the citizens of Philadelphia and the New England area and for a good game.
New England 28 - Philadelphia 24.
I think the Eagles have enough pass rush to bother Brady, I expect an early Philadelphia lead. After that, adjustments kick in, I think the Eagles’ secondary is overachieving and vulnerable. The Pats will wind up asking Nick Foles to win deep on harder throws than he had against the Vikings, and he will not deliver.
New England 24 - Philadelphia 19.
I think the Eagles keep it close and interesting, getting my hopes up just enough to make me think they might pull out the win. Then the Patriots pull their late game antics and get the win because nothing matters in this universe or the one that follows it.
*I’m also writing this after having been awake for roughly 21 hours.
New England 27 - Philadelphia 24.
This game is going to be close. If you throw out the quarterback position, the Eagles are far and away the better team. They have a top five defense. Their run game has been great since the Jay Ajayi trade. Doug Pederson has been the best coach in football this year.
That last part is the problem, though. Because across the sideline is the greatest head coach in the history of the game and the greatest quarterback in the history of the game. The Eagles...well, the Eagles have Nick Foles.
If Foles plays like he did against Atlanta and the Eagles’ defense suffocates New England like the 2007 New York Football Giants or the 2016 Denver Broncos, that could be enough for Philly to win. If Foles plays like he did against Minnesota, the Eagles will win. Still, even though both these things have happened in the recent past, I can’t 100% think Foles will do it again.
The Eagles have the better team. They will get up in the first half. New England will come back, take the lead late in the fourth quarter, and they will win a game with a funky score. I would take the Eagles to cover and the Patriots to win. Sunday should be a great one.
New England 26 - Philadelphia 23.
It’s hard for me to fathom typing this with Nick Foles as the Eagles’ starting quarterback instead of Carson Wentz, but I think we’re going to see a really good game on Sunday afternoon/night.
I look for Philadelphia’s defense to get pressure on Tom Brady up the middle; Texans fans know Brady can be frustrated and held relatively in check that way. Texans fans also know that it’s often impossible to contain Brady and the Patriots for an entire game.
I expect the Eagles to go up by ten points early before the Patriots stage a comeback. It won’t be as impressive as last year’s twenty-five point blitz against the Falcons at NRG Stadium, but things will end as they have all too often, with Bill Belichick raising yet another Lombardi.
New England 24 - Philadelphia 20.
Only one of us is taking the Eagles on Sunday. What’s your pick?