Is anyone surprised that the New England Patriots are in the Super Bowl? That’s like asking if anyone is surprised the sky is blue or that water is wet. The Patriots have become the kings of the NFL and have been for quite some time. They always have a bullseye on their back, but very few are lucky enough to rattle them.
Even though they are favored to win the Super Bowl, again, there is still a chance that the boys from Foxborough can be sent home empty-handed. Their opponent in Super Bowl LII is known for their suffocating defense that does not wear out as the game goes on. The men from Philadelphia look to be the next underdogs to try and knock Tom Brady and the Patriots off of the NFL throne.
For the Patriots to win, they must do a few different things. It will not be the typical ‘show up and win’ type of game that we are all use to seeing when the Pats play. If the Eagles have anything to say about it, and the Philly boys will have a lot to say on Sunday, the Patriots will have to work for everything they want.
ESTABLISH LEWIS, RUN GAME EARLY
Tom Brady has been the staple of the Patriots for nearly 20 years. Even with his greatness at quarterback, he has always been helped by a strong running game. Brady and the offense will need to get their starter, Dion Lewis, into a rhythm early and keep it there.
The Eagles pride themselves on a smothering, high powered defense that swallows up running backs. Lewis needs to have the game of his life Sunday evening in order to lift the Patriots to victory. Fletcher Cox and Derek Barnett look to stop the running attack of Lewis and the stable of New England backs.
With Brady and the passing game being the staple of New England, the running game can open up the passing game and help Brady pick through the Eagle’s secondary. Lewis can be a deciding factor on whether or not the Patriots clinch another Super Bowl championship or not.
GET GRONK HEALTHY
Rob Gronkowski is a critical part of the Patriots offense. He blocks like a lineman but can catch the ball like a pro bowl receiver. Other than Brady, Gronk is the best offensive player on New England’s roster. He can change the momentum of a game with just a spike of the ball.
When Gronk went down in the AFC Championship game against the Jaguars with a concussion, many people wrote off the Patriots from not just winning the Super Bowl, but also making it to the Super Bowl. Now, that was a bit dramatic seeing how they still have Brady, but that just goes to show the importance of Gronk and what he means to New England.
Luckily for the Patriots, Gronk suffered his concussion on a two week break instead of just one-week break. If the Super Bowl would have been played a week earlier, Gronk wouldn’t have played. The NFL’s concussion protocol usually takes two weeks to complete, and it seems like Gronk will be ready to go for Super Bowl LII.
Gronkowski is expected to play on Sunday, but his health will be a key factor in the game. If he gets injured again and leaves the game, that can be a death sentence for the Patriots. Luckily for New England, it still has Brady on its side even if Gronk goes down again. Nevertheless, having Gronk on the field can only help New England repeat as Super Bowl Champions.
FORMER VOLS IN SUPER BOWL LII
There is only one school that has sent more players to the Super Bowl than Tennessee (61), and that is the University of Miami (62). The Vols have prided themselves on developing players and sending them off to the next level. This year, Super Bowl LII will only feature one former Vol, and he is only in his rookie season. His name is Derek Barnett.
The Nashville native looks to bring Philadelphia its first Super Bowl victory in his rookie season. Coming out of Tennessee, Barnett passed Tennessee and Eagle’s great Reggie White as the school’s all-time leader in sacks. Barnett looks to reach another milestone in his young career on Sunday in making the Eagles Super Bowl Champions.
Edited by Ben McKee
Feature image courtesy of the New England Patriots