Super Sunday: The Tides’ preview of Super Bowl LII

After 18 treacherous weeks, the best teams from each conference square up against each other this Sunday. As the majority of people know by now, the Philadelphia Eagles will be taking on the Patriots of New England this Sunday in freezing Minneapolis, Minnesota.

This appearance is the tenth for the Patriots, as they have won five out of the nine games played. As for the Eagles, this is their third appearance and the first since the 2004 season. They are still looking to grasp the silver (Vince) Lombardi trophy, the most prestigious in all of football and possibly all the most recognized in all of the sports.

How the Patriots got to the big game:
The season did not start the way Belichick and Brady envisioned as they dropped two out of their first four games. With losses to Kansas City and Carolina, the franchise then managed to win 11 out of their last 12 regular season games and secured the number one seed in the NFL playoffs. In their first playoff game against Tennessee, they faced an early 7-0 deficit, but then rattled off 35 consecutive points and put a damper on any belief the Titans had. After the first quarter, Brady was surgical and shredded the Titan’s defense. Brady threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns as the Patriots cruised to an easy 35-14 win over the Titans.

The next game, however, was anything like the previous week’s game. Jacksonville went up 14-3 and controlled the momentum of the game. After Brady marched the Pats down for a field goal, the Jacksonville defense settled down forced havoc on Brady and the Patriots.

Brady guided the Pats down the field with two minutes left in the first half. They ended up with a touchdown, and the Patriots went into the half trailing by four, but with all the momentum.

The third quarter was relatively dull as both teams traded punts a few times.

But the fourth quarter proved to be one of the best Brady has ever played.

After a Pats’ fumble and a Jags’ three-and-out, with the Patriots trailing by 10 with 11 minutes left the offense then went on an eight-play drive which yielded seven points. Facing a 3rd and 18 Brady surveyed the defense and found a small opening, roughly the size of a Wilson football. He hit Amendola, and that proved to be the most pivotal play of the drive and possibly the play of the year for the Patriots. With Jacksonville having to punt the ball away right after the touchdown, Brady and the Pats had six minutes left and all the momentum. Brady hit many receivers, but mainly Amendola. With two and a half minutes left Brady found Amendola in the end zone. The ball, ideally placed, let the receiver jump up and come down with the play of the game.

Jacksonville failed on 4th and 19 and the Patriots completed on a critical third down, which iced the game and the season for Jacksonville.

How the Eagles got to the big game:
The Philadelphia Eagles had arguably their greatest season in franchise history. The Eagles’ lost week two against Kansas City, but then rattled off nine straight wins.

With the team clicking on all cylinders, Eagle Fans had something to cheer about; however, in week 14 against the Los Angeles Rams at the Coliseum the season looked to be lost. Star QB, Carson Wentz, and the leader of the MVP race tore his ACL in the early fourth quarter. The Eagles had to depend on former starter Nick Foles for the rest of the season. Philly managed to win that game, along with the next two before being defeated by the Dallas Cowboys on New Year’s Eve (The backups played, for the most part, the entire game).

With a playoff bye, the Eagles were placed in a hole few teams in NFL history were able to dig themselves out of and win the Super Bowl with a backup.

The 1990 New York Giants had to deal with the same situation. They lost former Super Bowl MVP Phil Simms and had to depend on the capable backup Jeff Hostetler. The Giants went on to defeat the Buffalo Bill in Super Bowl XXV.

The Eagles opened as three-point underdogs in the eyes of Vegas and looked to advance to the first conference title game in nine years.

The Eagles trailed by one at the half after the 53-yard boot the end the first 28 minutes of action.
The second half provided drama as the Eagles went on to kick two field goals.

With Philly up by five with six minutes left, the Falcons had the ball and had their minds on the end zone. Atlanta was able to pick up yards in bunches and completed a crucial 4th and 8 to put them in prime position to score.

After a few questionable play calls by the offensive coordinator, the Falcons were faced with another 4th down, this time it came at the Philly two-yard line with 1:05 left on the clock.

Matt Ryan (QB) got the ball and sprinted out the right side the two receivers Jones and Sanu both ran outs (ran straight 6 yards and pivoted towards sideline). With Jones falling, Ryan had to buy some time he bought a split second and threw the ball up for grabs.

With the ball missing the outstretched fingertips of Jones the Eagles were going to their first conference championship since January 2009.

The Eagles went on to beat the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 38-7 and advanced to the Super Bowl. Nick Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns for Philly.

“Expert” Opinion:
As a diehard Eagles fan, where my dad is from Philadelphia, I visibly have a substantial bias. In my heart, I can not give a valid objective opinion.

I am hoping and praying Philly wins because we have not won a Super Bowl and we are so overdue, and we have dealt with so many close calls, especially the choke jobs of the early 2000s We went to five NFC title games and only managed to win one. On Sunday, a Super Bowl win would turn South Philly into a frenzy, and the city would be the happiest it’s ever been.

I’ll put it this way:
New England will win if their offense can dictate the game. If Brady can sit in the pocket and find open receivers, the Pats could blow out the Eagles.

Philly is the underdog and playing with house money. If Nick Foles can do what he did two weeks ago against Minnesota, then there is no doubt in my head that Philly could win. The defensive line needs to do what Denver did two years ago against Brady. If they can pressure the QB without blitzing and force Brady into making poor throws, anything is possible.

With Carson Wentz back healthy for next year and Brady still playing like he’s ten years younger, there is a real opportunity where these two teams could be playing next year in Atlanta on Sunday, February 3.

On a more serious note: Sunday would have been the 53rd birthday to former Eagle Jerome Brown. Brown died in an automobile accident in June of 1992. He had his best season in 1991, and he was only 27.
The Eagles created a slogan for their fallen soldier the next season: “Bring it home for Jerome.” Their season came to an end against the Cowboys in the Divisional round and their bid to “bring it home” also came to a close. Over twenty-five years after his death and on Brown’s birthday, Philly will have that chance again. I tried to stay objective for this piece, but Go Eagles and Bring it Home for Jerome.