Super Bowl LII preview


Tom Brady hoists the Lombardi Trophy, winning his fifth Super Bowl title, as the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in Super Bowl LI on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Story by TJ Wall, staff writer

The Super Bowl is finally here! After all of the waiting, after all of the anticipation, after all of the predictions, after all of the chaos in the playoffs it’s finally here! Here’s a little preview to get you prepared for this year’s championship:

Tom Brady:

As you can tell if you’ve kept up with this weekly report, I’m huge on quarterbacks. I focus a whole lot, and sometimes too much, on quarterbacks and a team’s offense. Because of this, I absolutely have to mention the greatest quarterback of all-time: Tom Brady.

Now, before you shut me out for saying this, you’ve got to hear me out. I used to be one of many of Brady’s haters. I couldn’t stand the mere thought of his name. Every time someone called him the G.O.A.T., I would be obliged to argue and tell them how ignorant they were. However, after witnessing the many phenomenal games in which he performed very well, after witnessing the multiple playoff and Super Bowl appearances, after witnessing all of the records he’s broken, after witnessing the 28-3 comeback in Super Bowl LI versus the Atlanta Falcons and after witnessing him play at an elite level at the age of 40, the claim that Brady is, in fact, the G.O.A.T. becomes inevitably true.

In addition to all of Brady’s accolades, we also have to remember that the quarterback position is not the same as it once was. Back in the old days, the running back was like quarterback is today. Back then, every kid wanted to be the next Barry Sanders, Earl Campbell, Emmitt Smith and so on. Today, every kid wants to be the next Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees or some infamous wide receiver such as Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown or Julio Jones.

As the sport of football has evolved, so has the roles of each position. Football has gone from a running back-oriented offense to an offense that is mostly built around the quarterback and his receivers; this can also be seen by the evolution of the actual football itself. The actual football used to be a lot more bulky and a lot heavier which limited a quarterback’s ability to actually throw the ball and also limited the receiver’s ability to catch the ball. Nowadays, the football has been recreated into a lighter, more aerodynamic version of its former self which benefits the quarterback and receivers.

With this being said, there aren’t many quarterbacks that have played in the NFL that really compare to Brady besides Joe Montana and even he lacks in many aspects. So with Brady, the greatest quarterback in NFL history, the Patriots definitely have an upper hand in this matchup.

Nick Foles:

Nick Foles was once a backup quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles behind former Eagles’ quarterback Michael “Mike” Vick. When Vick went down with an injury in 2013, Foles took over and took advantage of his opportunity. He had a breakout season in which he threw for 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions while passing for 2,891 yards. In this breakout season, Foles was also awarded a Pro Bowl selection in which he played and was named the Pro Bowl Offensive MVP. He was also the leader in passer rating out of all quarterbacks in the entire NFL.

After a breakout season in 2013, he continued to play with the Eagles in 2014. However, he did not perform near as well as he did in the previous season which resulted in him being traded to the Los Angeles Rams (formerly known as the Saint Louis Rams). After short stints with the St. Louis Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs, Foles returned to the Eagles in 2017.

Will this be another David and Goliath story where the underdog pulls off the win? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”

— TJ Wall

Despite the fact that the Eagles already have an outstanding second-year quarterback in Carson Wentz, Wentz unfortunately went down with a torn ACL late in the regular season which kept him out for all of the remaining games in the regular season and will keep him out all of the remaining games this postseason.

The loss of Wentz was thought to have been the end of any hope the Eagles had at winning the Super Bowl. However, Foles surprisingly came in and filled Wentz’s spot well. The Eagles’ offense isn’t as strong as it was with Wentz, of course, but they haven’t slacked off too much, especially considering the fact that Foles led the team through the playoffs and now to the Super Bowl where Philly will have a chance to win their first Super Bowl win since the merger of the AFL (American Football League) and the NFL (National Football League) from 1966 to 1970.

Will this be another David and Goliath story where the underdog pulls off the win? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Eagles Advantages:

The Eagles main advantages, from my subjective opinion, is that they have a nice defense that can put pressure on the quarterback and they have a better run game than New England that features Pro Bowl running back and former Miami Dolphin Jay Ajayi.

Tom Brady has proven that he struggles when the defensive line is putting pressure on him. This can be seen in last year’s Super Bowl LI when the Atlanta Falcons put an ample amount of pressure on him early on which caused him to struggle. However, the Falcons became too relaxed in believing that they had the victory secured so they weren’t getting to Brady as much which gave him more time to throw. As a result, the Patriots scored a few times which then helped them gain momentum which carried them over the Falcons in overtime.

However, to me, the thing Philadelphia needs to focus on the most is keeping Brady under pressure at all times and making minimal mistakes. If they can do those two things, Philadelphia may be bringing home the Lombardi Trophy.”

— TJ Wall

Jay Ajayi came into the league and during his second year with Miami he shocked everyone with his breakout season by running for 1,272 yards and 8 touchdowns. However, he hasn’t had a season of that caliber since then. This could be due to the fact that he was a part of a weak offensive unit in Miami that had an old and formerly retired Jay Cutler at quarterback or maybe it could just be that his one good season was a fluke. I don’t believe that season was a fluke, however I believe that we won’t truly know until we see him play one full season with Philadelphia next year. One thing that I am sure of is that Ajayi has been playing pretty well lately and he definitely has potential and will pose a threat to the Patriots on Sunday.

Will the Eagles’ defensive line play at the elite caliber that we’ve seen from them this season? Will the Eagles’ secondary be able to defend the pass long enough for the defensive line to get to Brady? Will the Eagles’ lack of experience on both sides of the ball hurt them or have no effect at all? All of these are valid questions that the Eagles will be facing in this upcoming showdown. However, to me, the thing Philadelphia needs to focus on the most is keeping Brady under pressure at all times and making minimal mistakes. If they can do those two things, Philadelphia may be bringing home the Lombardi Trophy.

Patriots Advantages:

Despite the fact that the Eagles have a slightly better all-around team, the fact that the Patriots have Tom Brady and that explosive pass game makes up for the areas that New England lacks in.

If you can’t pressure Brady for at least three quarters of the game and maybe sack him three or four times, there’s not really a chance that you will be able to stop him. That’s exactly why I believe that the determining factor of this game will be the Eagles’ defensive line. The Eagles offense will, in no way, be able to keep up with Brady and his crew. Therefore, if New England’s offensive line can hold up and be just a little better than they have been this season, they should be able to hold off the birds of Philly.

The Patriots’ defense has also been overlooked so far. Early on this season they were playing like one of the bottom tier defenses in the league. However, later on down the stretch, they started to play a lot better. So far this postseason, New England’s defense has been solid so if their offensive line can’t hold up, their defense better be ready to step up and prevent Philadelphia’s offensive unit from doing anything.


Super Bowl LII:

New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles:

I pray that I am totally wrong on this one, but I believe that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will lead the Patriots to their sixth Super Bowl win with a final score of 29-24. However, if the Eagles’ defensive line can step up, the results of this game may turn out differently.