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Top Stories for February 1, 2018
Super Bowl LII
Philadelphia (15-3) vs New England (15-3)
Who is going to win the big game – Super Bowl LII?
Experts say it will be the perennial favorites, the New England Patriots. And why not? With five-time winner Tom Brady at quarterback and guru head coach Bill Belichick … it stands to reason that they are 4.5 point favorites. Brady is going after his sixth Super Bowl ring in eight tries, with only the New York Giants able to beat him (they did that twice). Coach Belichick is going after his eighth ring, as he has won five with Brady and the Patriots, and two as defensive coordinator for Bill Parcels and the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXI and XXV.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski is still questionable for the Super Bowl, after suffering a concussion in the AFC championship game. The Patriots are lucky there are two weeks before the game. I’m pretty sure he will play. Even without Gronk, the Pats have plenty of offensive weapons … from wideout Brandon Cooks and slot receiver Danny Amendola, to a stable of running backs … to get the job done.
But what about those Eagles? Coach Doug Pederson has his underdogs relishing their role. After all, they have been the underdogs in the two NFC playoff games, both at home. After finishing the regular season 13-3, the same as #1 seed Minnesota, the Eagles have beaten last year’s NFC Super Bowl representative, the Atlanta Falcons, 15-10, and those same Vikings, 38-7. So what if they don’t have possible NFC MVP Carson Wentz at quarterback, who went down with a knee injury. They still have a very capable QB in Nick Foles. He threw for three touchdowns and 352 yards against the top-ranked Viking defense.
Both teams are near the top of the league in both offense and defense in scoring. New England has the #2 offense, averaging 28.6 points per game (458) during the regular season. Philly scored one point less (457), also 28.6 points per game, as the #3 ranked offense. On defense it’s just as close, with the Eagles ranked #4, allowing only 18.4 points per game (295). The Pats, #5 ranked, allowed one point more (296), also 18.4 points per game. Talk about evenly matched teams.
I know, you’re going to say the Eagles had Wentz for most of the season, and now are stuck with Foles. But even with him at the helm, they’ve averaged 26.5 points on offense in the playoffs, not far off their season average, and against playoff teams no less. The Eagle defense has picked up as well, only allowing 8.5 points in their two playoff wins.
I‘m going against the oddsmakers, and picking Philadelphia to not only cover, but to win the game, 27-24.