For anyone living in exile, Super Bowl LII kicks off in Minneapolis at 6:30 EST this Sunday. Here at Icy Schemes, there’s a vested interest in this game, as founder Admin Tam’s former bandwagon team, the Eagles, faces off against his newly-pledged franchise, the Patriots. The stakes are high: not only is a championship on the line, so too is the future of Tam’s NFL fandom. And as much as I hate to admit, I think the Patriots will emerge from this contest as Super Bowl Champions for the sixth time. But to simply pick the Patriots is to discount the greatness we’ve seen from Nick Foles and the Eagles’ roster, as a whole. This game will be close—I mean, really close–and to be completely honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the year the Pats’ luck runs out.
Don’t kid yourselves: it’s no surprise that we find the top two seeds in the playoffs meeting on Sunday. Yes, the narrative being advanced is that the Wentz-less Eagles stand no chance behind quarterback Nick Foles, a guy who contemplated walking away from the game less than two years ago. But numbers don’t lie: the very same man has completed 75% of his passes in back-to-back playoff games—any idea how many times that’s been done before? One time. By Joe Montana. Not only is Foles’ greatness being overlooked by Vegas odds makers, his success opens the door for a quarterback controversy in Philadelphia next season. Indeed, these playoffs have exposed Carson Wentz for what he is: a glorified system quarterback who reaped the benefits of Doug Pederson’s offensive schemes. That’s why the team can plug in 29-year-young journeyman Foles and not only win playoff games, but demolish the best roster in the NFL (Minnesota Vikings) by a margin of 31 points. The Minnesota win also speaks to the depth of the Eagles roster, which, according to Pro Football Focus, will take the field with 14 of the top 20 of the game’s best participants. To throw a few more numbers in the mix, the Eagles’ rushing attack ranked third in the league while their defense ranked second in points allowed during the regular season. For these reasons, I’m not ruling an Eagles victory out of the realm of possibility.
The Patriots are currently four-point favorites—I would avoid this line entirely if I were a betting man. First of all, it’s impossible to know whether the Pats will come out and “lay some pipe” (in the words of Instagram sage J.R. Smith), or amass an inexplicable comeback (I say “inexplicable” because the Patriots’ comebacks can no longer be considered “miraculous” or even “unbelievable”) in the game’s final minutes. If the Pats’ previous Super Bowl appearances are indicative of this game’s outcome, it will be extremely close, to put it mildly. In Brady and Belichick’s seven Super Bowls, the Patriots have outscored opponents 169 to 157: for all you numbers guys, that’s an average differential of 1.7 points per game. Above all, the Pats’ 5-2 record in these games is testament to Belichick’s brilliant in-game adjustments. In recent playoff comeback victories, the Pats outscored the Seahawks by 14 points in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIX, the Falcons by 25 in the fourth quarter/overtime of last year’s Super Bowl, and the Jaguars by 11 in the fourth quarter of this year’s AFC Championship. It makes you wonder how exactly 40-year-old Tom Brady is sustaining this level of success. If only he were broadcasting a docu-series on Facebook or writing a book on “How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance”. . . guess we’ll never know. But I digress. I have to take the Patriots to win this game in a close one, but I’m not confident in my pick. This could be the year their luck runs out. You have no idea how much it would please me to see Brady, self-appointed “King in the North,” kneel to pledge fealty to a superior roster led by a quarterback chasing history.
Super Bowl LII Prediction: Patriots 27 Eagles 23
-IceBurg (@AJBurgess54), Senior Sports Contributor