2018 Super Bowl odds, picks: Brady carves up Eagles, Patriots win by double digits
Why the Patriots will capture their sixth Super Bowl, this time against the Eagles
The New England Patriots are inevitable.
Before the season, it was inevitable that they'd make it back to the Super Bowl. Steelers. When ESPN dropped that bombshell story about the internal strife consuming the Patriots' facility, it was inevitable that they'd respond by never losing again. When they faced the Titans in their first playoff game, . When they trailed the Jaguars by 10 points in the fourth quarter of the AFC title game, it was inevitable that Tom Brady would, it was inevitable that they'd beat the
The Super Bowl is inevitable. When the Patriots face the Eagles with the Lombardi Trophy on the line, their victory is inevitable. The Patriots are 4.5-point favorites. They're going up against a Nick Foles-quarterbacked offense. Brady has as many Super Bowl starts as the entire Eagles' roster combined. Rob Gronkowski is healthy. Carson Wentz still isn't.
So which side of the Super Bowl line do you need to be all over? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of Patriots-Eagles you need to jump on, plus what X-factor determines the outcome, all from a Vegas legend who's 9-3 on Eagles' games.
For me, this game boils down to one question: Can the Eagles consistently hit and harass Brady and as a result, make him human?
Let's start with first part of the question: Can the Eagles hit and harass Brady? Definitely.
According to PFF, the Eagles have generated pressure at a stupidly high rate of 41.9 percent even though they've blitzed only 22.6 percent of the time (league average is 29.3 percent). The rush comes from everywhere. Defensive end Brandon Graham leads the team with 9.5 sacks, defensive ends Chris Long and Derek Barnett each have five sacks apiece while defensive end Vinny Curry has grabbed three sacks. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox has registered 5.5 sacks. In their divisional round win over the Falcons, the Eagles pressured Matt Ryan 41.5 percent of the time. In their dominant NFC title game win over the Vikings, they sacked Case Keenum only once, but pressured him on almost half of his dropbacks (24 of 50), according to PFF.
There's no question the Eagles have the players to get after Brady. But the answer to the second part of the question -- can they make Brady human? -- is probably a no.
Brady is at his worst under pressure, but he's not bad. According to PFF, Brady owns the league's highest passer rating under pressure (95.5) in the regular season and the playoffs. Against a team with one of the best pass-rushes in football (the Jaguars finished the regular season with the second-most sacks), Brady led a double-digit fourth-quarter comeback.
Even against pressure, Brady's still Brady.
Bad OL, 40 years of age, doesn't matter. pic.twitter.com/dSxlUjKxcb— Jonathan Kinsley (@Brickwallblitz) February 2, 2018
You shouldn't be able to do this against pressure at the age of 40. That's how great of a season Tom Brady has had. pic.twitter.com/lvbOqh4mnd— Jonathan Kinsley (@Brickwallblitz) February 2, 2018
REPEAT: NO PRESSURE YOU PUT ON BRADY 99.9% OF THE TIME WILL MATTER pic.twitter.com/uPEvHqQWc8— Jonathan Kinsley (@Brickwallblitz) February 2, 2018
The Eagles' best hope is to draw up elaborate blitzes that get to Brady, who has been at his worst this season when he's blitzed. According to PFF, Brady has an 84.0 passer rating against the blitz. But, again, it's not like Brady's some awful quarterback who crumbles against extra pass-rushers. More often than not, Brady burns the blitz because he sees it coming and already knows where the opening is in the defense.
The Patriots are going to negate the Eagles' ability to get pressure by getting rid of the ball quickly to their armada of pass-catching running backs (James White and Dion Lewis lead the way), Gronk (the most unstoppable pass-catching threat maybe ever), and reliable pass-catchers like Danny Amendola ( ). And when Brady does get time in the pocket, he'll eviscerate a good, but not great secondary because he has the downfield threats in Gronk and Brandin Cooks (16.6 yards per catch) to do it.
This might sound overly simplistic, but I'm taking the Patriots to win because they have Brady and the Eagles have Nick Foles. The difference between them is too significant for me to ignore, especially when you factor in that Bill Belichick, the greatest coach in the history of the sport, had two weeks to gameplan for the Eagles' RPO-heavy offense.
The Eagles are a great story. Getting to this point without Wentz is truly admirable. But the Patriots aren't the Falcons or the Vikings. They're a team that's in their eighth Super Bowl since 2001. They're the greatest dynasty in the history of team sports. It'll take a perfect, flawless game for the Eagles to even hang around with the Patriots. And then even if they do that, they'll still have to find a way to beat the Patriots in a close game, which is suicide. Consider how the Giants -- the only team to beat Brady in the Super Bowl -- have gotten it done: By playing flawless defense and getting crazy, impossible catches in the biggest moments of the game. The Eagles can play good defense, but even that alone won't be enough to beat the Patriots. They'll also need the bounces to bounce their way.
In that sense, the Patriots are the much safer bet. They don't need luck to win. They just need Brady to be Brady and Foles to be Foles.
Before the season,
At this point, picking against the Patriots is like betting against a Jon-Daenerys alliance. The Patriots might've lost one of their dragons (Julian Edelman), but Tom Brady can still ride Rob Gronkowski and Brandin Cooks all the way to the Super Bowl. Of course, it helps that they have the best mastermind in the business, Bill Belichick, running the show. The Patriots have been the best team in football for the past 15 or so years and they went out and got better this year. I can't pick against them.
I can't turn away from them now.
Prediction: Patriots 27, Eagles 14
Super Bowl MVP: Tom Brady
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