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Philadelphia and New England set for historic battle

In the 52nd game of the Super Bowl era, the high-flying Philadelphia Eagles will face the New England Patriots in Minneapolis on Sunday, Feb. 4 at 6:30 p.m. You can watch it, along with the copious commercials, on NBC.

The Patriots will be playing in their 10th Super Bowl, their eighth since 2001. They have won five of their previous nine appearances, with all five wins coming in the Brady-Belichick era.

On the other side of the ball, the Eagles struggle to compare. This will be their third Super Bowl, and their players will compete for their very first championship rings.

In 2005, the Patriots and Eagles competed in the big game, with the Patriots named the 39th Super Bowl Champions in the end of a close 24-21 win.

The game was all knotted-up at halftime, before Tom Brady helped establish a 24-10 lead for the Pats, who went on to hold off a strong comeback effort led by Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb. After Sunday, Tom Brady will be the only player to play in both Super Bowls that featured the Eagles and Patriots—a true testament to his greatness.

The Eagles hope to achieve a different outcome during Super Bowl 52, and this is not an unrealistic goal. However, when quarterback Carson Wentz went down in week 14, things became questionable.

Wentz helped the Eagles become the best team in the NFC, and he was having a remarkable MVP-like season. Losing anyone of that caliber, on that kind of team, is always cause for concern.

Luckily, the second-string quarterback was Nick Foles, the same quarterback who had a fantastic season in 2013, achieving an unheard of touchdown-interception (TD/INT) ratio of 27 touchdowns to just two interceptions. To say he has talent is not missing the mark.

However, since that 2013 season, Foles has fallen off, somewhat. He struggled with the Eagles the following season, before heading to the Rams, where he started in only 11 games and had a poor TD/INT ratio of 7/10. After that he was converted to back-up quarterback at Kansas City in 2016, and now he is back with the Eagles in their 2017 campaign.

The Eagles boast one of the most bolstered backfields that one can remember, a defense which recently held the Vikings to a mere seven points. So Philadelphia has the pieces in place to pull off an extraordinary upset, but I believe that a top performance by Nick Foles will be a key factor for that to happen.

If he can tap into his majestic form of last week and from the 2013 season, if he can keep from turning the football over (as well as running up the score on a porous Patriots defense), and if he can keep the ball out of Brady’s hands, you will see the Eagles bring back a Lombardi trophy to the city of brotherly love.

As for the Patriots, they are looking to repeat the performances they gave in Super Bowl 39, and this is an extremely feasible task.

As has become the norm, the Patriots have another incredible offense this season—no surprise there. Moreover, they added Brandin Cooks to be a complimentary piece to Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski; unfortunately, Edelman was deemed out for the year with a season-ending injury suffered in the off-season. Luckily, the Pats are known for having a deep lineup of talented back-ups.

With Bill Belichick’s mantra of “next man up,” Danny Amendola stepped in to fill Edelman’s boots exceptionally well. The evidence is the seven catches (two for touchdowns) he made last week against the best secondary in football: the Jaguars.

Thus, Amendola is going to be the key player for the Patriots in this one. If he can continue to do what he has done all year, especially what he did last week, Tom Brady will have a comfortable evening as Amendola will find the seams in the secondary.

It could easily be argued that, for the Pats, the focus will be on the defensive side of the ball, but with two great offenses on show, defense should be an afterthought.

Bottom line, I see this game being eerily similar to Super Bowl 39. The Eagles have the best shot of any team to take down the Pats, and it will take a valiant effort that they can muster. It will come down to the wire, but history has shown that that means nothing to the Patriots.

I foresee them going down early, trailing at the half by a score of 17-10. Then, it will be “all she wrote” for the Patriots in the second half, scoring 21 and giving up 10. Brady and Belichick will find a way to bring their sixth Lombardi trophy back to New England.

Final score prediction: 31-27, Patriots.

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