The story of David vs. Goliath revolves around a giant versus a young boy. The giant is cocky, because he can be. He’s bigger than everyone, and claimed he could beat any solider of the army in a fight to the death.
No one took him up on that claim except one: A young, small shepherd boy named David.
The boy was offered to carry the weapons and perks the giant had, but he declined. He felt he could do it without. He brought a sling and a stone; nothing compared to what the Giant had.
In the end, that sling and stone was flung perfectly. It killed Goliath. David did it.
Nick Foles’ arm is kind of like the sling. But it’s a wooden one with some string tied to each side of the wishbone-like stick.
It’s gonna have to be flung perfectly.
The Eagles can win this game. It’s possible. Philadelphia’s coaching staff has done a magnificent job replacing Carson Wentz, the MVP favorite until a devastating ACL tear against the Rams. They’ve made backup Nick Foles have to do as little as possible; it’s been a lot dump-offs to the flats and a lot of work put in by their offensive line.
Let me repeat that: A lot of work by the offensive line.
Against the Falcons, they manhandled a decent but not fantastic defensive front. But the deal with Atlanta isn’t first level, it’s their linebackers and athleticism on the edge. The Eagles offensive line was getting there in a flash.
If they can get there against Atlanta, getting there against New England should be no problem.
Foles was awful vs. Atlanta. He missed throws, had happy feet, and almost single-handily cost them the game. The Eagles had other silly stuff happen in that game that shielded some of the blame away from Foles.
But then he was amazing at Minnesota. He made incredible throws against the best secondary in the league. He actually looked competent. And once again, the Eagles offensive line (and some lucky breaks from Minnesota’s offense) was the reason for it all.
The Patriots are the only team EVER to finish first in offensive DVOA and last in defensive DVOA. Do you know how hard that is to do? Let alone make the Super Bowl while accomplishing it??
With their offensive scheme, Philly torched a pretty good defense in Atlanta and the league’s best in Minnesota. The Patriots shouldn’t be a problem.
New England’s defense lacks size in the front seven. Sure, Kyle Van Noy has been good, but Leonard Fournette ran all over him and this group in the AFC Championship Game.
The Eagles have two Leonard Fournette’s in Jay Ajayi and LeGarette Blount. Both are strong, powerful backs who can gash any front up the middle. The Eagles can use both in multiple ways though. With their run-pass option scheme, tricks can be played on the Patriots linebackers, getting them to come up and attempt to defend the run. Using one as a dummy allows the other to get open in the flat, or to have tight end Zach Ertz run across the middle of the field. These are the areas where the Pats struggle the most.
The Eagles just have to do the things that got them here.
Throwing downfield though, which was common against the Vikings, isn’t the best strategy for the Eagles. New England’s secondary has gotten progressively better over the course of the season, and putting the ball in Foles’ hand in the Super Bowl isn’t exactly where I want my trust invested if I’m an Eagles fan.
Philly threw the ball against Minnesota because they could. The risk was much less due to the situations they were put in.
The Patriots aren’t gonna be messing up.
I said in a column before Championship Sunday that Tom Brady had to be licking his chops to face these opposing quarterbacks. Foles or Keenum in the Super Bowl? Having to get by Bortles to get there?? Please.
This is where the real David vs. Goliath matchup is. Though the two can’t be on the field at the same time, the way they impact the game when they’re on it will determine everything.
I think it’s a fair assessment to say Brady’s gonna have the bigger impact.
This game is a cake-walk to him now. He’s got the experience. He’s got the routine down. He knows how to time everything. He knows how to handle the long halftime. He’s got this down.
Though Philadelphia’s defense was ranked 5th in the league this season, nothing ever’s been too hard for Brady. He hasn’t choked in a Super Bowl. He’s never played poorly. It’s been other factors, factors out of his control, that have determined the fate of the game.
When the Giants have taken down the Patriots in the past, it was their ferocious defensive line that got pressure and forced Brady to make tough throws. If you beat him up, you weaken him and his potential. It’s like Stephen Curry… physical point guards can bother him. He hates playing Russell Westbrook, who’s not very talented defensively but can use maximum effort and sheer athleticsm to get in his head.
That’s whats gotten to Brady in the past. A devastating pass rush that’s practically unblockable.
The Eagles have that.
They’re stacked up front. Fletcher Cox is a versatile monster who can be lined up in any spot. Slot him in the A gap and he’ll blow up rushes. Move him to the B gap and he’s acting as a disguise… offensive lines have to double team him on the outside. Bringing a blitz on top of that is an automatic sack.
If New England’s gonna use their running back duo, it has to be creatively. The Philly linebackers are more talented than New England’s; they’re bigger and faster, and are better play-makers. Outside zones and screens aren’t gonna get it done against this Philly defense.
This is not a game for either side to be conservative. Defining conservative for Philly is a different game; there’s only so much Foles is gonna be able to do. But for the Patriots, letting Tom Brady throw the ball to guys like Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan is their best bet. Though Philadelphia’s defense has been strong all year, a weak link is the back end. The unit ranks 7th in DVOA, and Philadelphia gave up the 13th most yards through the air this season. If they were playing anyone but Tom Brady, those stats wouldn’t be as concerning.
As I wrote in last year’s Super Bowl preview, Brady is a machine. He’ll pick apart any defense no matter how good they are. And when the Pats have someone like Gronk, it makes Brady even scarier.
If I’m the Eagles, I’m using the anti-Belichick philosophy. I’m not trying to take away the one thing that makes the Patriots go (Gronk, in this case). I’m using somewhat basic coverages and trusting my guys to do their best. I let the defensive line do their thing and hope that throws Brady off.
Philly can try to take away Gronk, but using resources there takes away from other areas of the field, where Brady can use his other weapons to be just as deadly. You do not want Danny Amendola or Chris Hogan one-on-one.
If the Pats want to run the ball, I let them. Because I know my offense is gonna be able to as well against the small New England front seven.
Again, I think aggressiveness on the offensive end is going to determine this game. At full power, the Patriots are more potent. I trust Brady to be able to make those tough throws on a good Philadelphia secondary. As bad as New England’s defense is, Foles having to do anything more than hand the ball off scares me. The Minnesota performance was great, but everything leading up to that wasn’t. Isn’t the Super Bowl about consistency and trust?
I’m picking New England to repeat. Now let’s see if I can predict the score exactly right again.
Prediction: New England-31 Philadelphia-24