Another year, another trip to the Super Bowl for the New England Patriots.
The defending champs stormed back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in last weekend’s AFC Championship Game – securing their eighth Super Bowl appearance of the Belichick/Brady era.
There they’ll meet the Philadelphia Eagles, a fellow number-one seed fresh off a 38-7 demolition of the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game.
Fittingly enough, this year’s big game will be a rematch of Super Bowl 39 – when the Pats downed Donovan McNabb and the Eagles to win their third title in four years. With another win over Philly, the Pats would finish off another run of three Super Bowl victories in a four-year span.
Super Bowl 52
#1 Philadelphia Eagles (15-3) vs #1 New England Patriots (15-3)
Sunday, February 4 at 6:30 p.m. EST on NBC
U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota
But while the Eagles roster has turned over entirely since 2004, the Patriots still have Brady under center and Belichick stalking the sidelines. That duo has been the best in the business for nearly two decades now, but with the Patriots preparing to lose both their offensive and defensive coordinators to head coaching hires next season, Super Bowl 52 might just be the end of an era.
A new era has only just begun in Philadelphia. Quarterback Carson Wentz and head coach Doug Pederson have taken the Eagles to a division title, a top seed, and potentially the Lombardi Trophy in only their second year together. Wentz went down with a season-ending injury late in the year, sparking fears of yet another Philly collapse, but experienced backup Nick Foles rose to the occasion in the playoffs.
Foles has put up an impressive line of 49 for 63 and 598 yards passing, with three touchdowns and no interceptions, while leading the way in wins over the Falcons and Vikings. Interestingly enough, Philadelphia went through Atlanta and Minnesota to reach Super Bowl 39, just one of many odd links between the two title games.
For instance, New England is looking to become the first repeat champion since they went back to back in Super Bowl 39. Philadelphia surged to that Super Bowl after signing free agent wide receiver Terrell Owens in the offseason, while this year’s run was sparked by the addition of free agent wideout Alshon Jeffrey. And the most productive receiver for the Pats in both seasons wore #87 (Troy Brown in 2004; Rob Gronkowski in 2017).
Speaking of Gronk, the big tight end suffered another concussion midway through the Jags game. He was forced to sit out while the Pats stormed back, but with two weeks of rest and recuperation ahead, Brady’s favorite weapon should be back in the fold.
Even with a healthy Gronk on the field, however, Brady may be bottled up by the ferocious Philly defense. In two playoff wins, both over previously high-flying offenses in the Falcons and Vikings, the Eagles have surrendered just 17 total points. And against Atlanta, all 10 points were produced by a pair of turnovers from the Eagles offense. Through 120 minutes of grueling playoff football, Philadelphia has allowed only one legitimate scoring drive.
That could spell trouble for Brady and the Patriots offense, which struggled to move the ball for most of the game against a tough Jaguars defense without the aid of penalty-assisted yardage.
When opening lines were posted by online sportsbook Bovada, the Patriots were listed as 6-point favorites, but the early betting has come in on the Eagles. The line has been bet down to New England (-5), while a Patriots moneyline ticket comes with a (-190) price tag.
Philly moneyline backers enjoy (+165) odds at the moment, and the total has settled at 48.5 points.