It’s a Superbowl XXXIX rematch for the New England Patriots this Sunday and coincidentally enough, things are playing out the same way.
In 2004, the Patriots held the No. 4 spot for scoring offenses, which was just five places ahead of the No. 9 ranked Philadelphia Eagles, according to pro-football-reference.
Fast forward to 2017 and the Patriots are at the No. 2 spot and the Eagles are sitting at the No. 3 spot. Eagles offense aside, it’s going to be up to their defense to attempt to hit a kill switch against this juggernaut of a Patriots offense.
The Eagles were ranked No. 4 on the defensive side of the ball in 2017, giving up just 4,900 total yards on offense to opposing teams. This is an interesting matchup for the Patriots because the Eagles are not a gung-ho, rip your head off, style defense. They possess a strong front seven led by a monstrosity known as Fletcher Cox and assisted by former Patriot Chris Long.
Tom Brady acknowledged Long’s ability at Super Bowl media day and hoped he would go easy on him during the big game.
“I hope he doesn’t hit me too hard if he gets a shot,” Brady said. “Hopefully, he respects his elders a little bit out there.”
All jokes aside, the Eagles front seven is a force to be reckoned with.
Cox was only behind three other teammates in terms of tackles with 10, and the three players ahead of him were all defensive backs. This means the tackle came after the ball was thrown, or an ensuing handoff. Cox is also second on the team in sacks behind superstar linebacker Brandon Graham with 5.5 sacks on the year.
The Eagles secondary, however, isn’t like the heavy hitting Jaguars secondary New England faced in the AFC Championship game. Their secondary is short, quick, and nimble.
These defensive backs play off the line and they won’t jam you. They will sneak around and wait for you to make a mistake, or wait for the two-headed monster that is Graham and Cox to grab a hold of your quarterback.
EA Sports Madden 18 predicts it to be a 24-20 nail-biter. If the offensive line can hold and prevent Brady from being pressured into stupid mistakes, EA’s prediction might hold true.