Super Bowl week is finally here. In the days leading up to the game, there's going to be a whole lot of relevant news and quotes coming out, and we here at will be sure to cover every bit of what goes down -- and to let you know how it may or may not affect the actual game. At the beginning of the week, however, we thought it was a good time to look to the past. 

Everybody knows the New England Patriots have been to a ton of Super Bowls. Super Bowl 52 will be the 10th time the Pats have appeared in the game, and the eighth during the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era. The Pats have been wildly successful in those Super Bowls as well, winning five of seven under Belichick and Brady. 

The Eagles, of course, have been to the Super Bowl just twice, and they've not been there since losing to these very Patriots at the conclusion of the 2004 season. Barely anybody on the team has even been to a Super Bowl. As the NFL's research department pointed out a few days ago, Brady has as much Super Bowl experience as the entire Eagles roster combined. 

These are the only Eagles that have actually played in the championship game: 

So instead of looking to the history of these teams in the Super Bowl and those who've played in the big game, we're taking a look at the instances when they've faced each other. Considering the Pats and Eagles have yet to play each other during Doug Pederson's head coaching tenure, though, we're instead going to focus on Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Scwhartz, who has been a coordinator or head coach in the league for 16 of the last 17 seasons. 

Schwartz's defenses pride themselves on getting pressure on the quarterback without resorting to the blitz, which is generally considered the best way to slow down the New England offense, and which has been shown to be a winning Super Bowl strategy against the Patriots in the past (see: 2007, 2011 New York Giants). This year's Eagles defense may be one of the best defenses Schwartz has ever coached, so it could be instructive to see how his particular style and play-calling has worked against this week's opponent in the past. 

Surprisingly, Schwartz's teams have squared off against the Belichick-Brady Patriots only seven times over the course of the 17 seasons that he's been in charge of defenses. Perhaps not quite as surprisingly, the Patriots have had more success in those matchups than the teams Schwartz was coaching. 


New England has gone 4-2 against Schwartz during the regular season, with one of those two Patriot losses being a meaningless Week 17 game in 2014 when Tom Brady was pulled after halftime. The last time a Schwartz-coached team defeated the Patriots with Brady playing the whole way through was back in 2002 -- the first time he ever coached against them. That's also the last time any of Schwartz's teams have forced the Patriots into a turnover, which is probably not a coincidence. 

In the five-straight losses that came after that (including one playoff loss), the Patriots averaged 361.6 yards and 35.4 points per game against Schwartz's Titans, Lions, and Bills defenses. Both of those figures are more than double what the 2002 Titans gave up to the Patriots in the first Schwartz vs. Belichick-and-Brady matchup. 

And while Brady didn't necessarily drive much of the Patriots' early success against Schwartz-coached teams, he's sure been driving almost all of it in the more recent matchups. (Note: Full games only.) 


After throwing for just three touchdowns and an interception over the first four matchups against Schwartz's defenses, Brady has thrown for four scores and no picks in each of the last two games against Schwartz-coached teams. The 2010 Lions team that got lit up by Brady was not a good defense, but the 2014 Bills had one of the best defenses in the NFL -- a unit very similar to this year's Eagles. Those Bills ranked fourth in the NFL in both yards and points allowed; they were 12th in run defense DVOA, first in pass defense DVOA, and second in overall defensive DVOA. This year's Eagles ranked fourth (yards), fourth (points), third (run defense), seventh (pass defense), and fifth (overall defense). 

Brady just got finished tearing apart the best pass defense in football (the Jaguars) with 12 stitches in his throwing hand: he completed 26 of 38 passes for 290 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions, and he also led two scoring drives in the final nine minutes to turn a 10-point deficit into a four-point victory. The Jaguars did a good job of getting pressure on Brady early in the game, but as Football Outsiders' Scott Kacsmar pointed out, the pressure dropped off in the fourth quarter. 

Jacksonville, like Philly, is very good at getting pressure with just four rushers, and the Jags have an even better secondary than the Eagles. Still, they were unable to hit home with the rush when Brady was attempting to lead the Patriots back into the game, and that terrific secondary was torn to pieces in the closing minutes. The Eagles may want to take that lesson to heart. Blitzing Brady is always dangerous, but if your four-man rush isn't getting in his face, it may be wiser to send a blitzer or two rather than letting him sit in the pocket and wait until somebody springs open. 

Schwartz is typically reluctant to blitz even in those types of situations, but the Patriots also know that to be the case. And Brady has made quick work of his defense the last couple times out. A big matchup on a big stage may call for a slight change in tactics.