Super Bowl LII Preview: What to Look For


Graphic by Ramon Alvarado/El Paisano News

The defending champion New England Patriots or the underdog Philadelphia Eagles: a new NFL champion will be crowned today.

Ramon Alvarado, Editor-in-Chief

Super Sunday is here!

U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis will play host to Super Bowl LII at 3:30 p.m. pacific time this afternoon. The defending champion New England Patriots are back in the big game for the 8th time since the Brady/Belicheck Era began in 2001 and are looking for ring number six. Their opponents this year, the all-around dangerous Philadelphia Eagles have embraced the underdog role-and masks! –since losing their MVP-candidate quarterback Carson Wentz in week 14.

Even with a back-up in at the game’s most prominent position, the Eagles’ had enough firepower (and then some) to claim the NFC Championship Trophy. Now their number four-ranked defense has the task of slowing down the highly-regarded greatest of all-time, Tom Brady and the NFL’s most prolific offense.

The Patriots are known to keep their Super Bowl appearances close, and with another hungry opponent in the Eagles, the world may have another classic on its hands.

Here’s a few things to look out for when each team has the ball during Super Bowl LII!

When the Patriots have the ball

Tom Brady will have his favorite weapon as tight-end Rob Gronkowski was cleared from the NFL’s concussion protocol earlier in the week. Gronkowski will be a major point in the Eagles’ defensive game plan, but they have to be careful not to draw too much attention to him.

Brandin Cooks had a huge game after Gronk left the AFC Championship game against the Jaguars. Cooks racked up 100 yards on six catches in the matchup.

Danny Amendola is another weapon Brady has been able to fully utilize. Amendola caught 18 passes for 196 yards in the first two postseason games, including two touchdowns in the AFC Championship.

The Patriots have actually passed the ball more than any other team in the league. Philadelphia holds the number-two rush defense, so the Patriots will likely stick to their throwing ways.

Eagles’ defensive-end Chris Long won a championship with the Patriots last year. He’ll surely be looking to make an impact rushing Brady along with defensive-tackle Fletcher Cox and outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks.

Philadelphia’s veteran safeties, Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McCleod will have to communicate and serve as a strong backbone with all the tools Brady has at his disposal. Jenkins and McCleod are a huge part of the Eagles’ fifth-ranked pass defense.

Brady has yet to throw an interception in these playoffs, throwing five touchdowns and completing 67% of his passes.

When the Eagles have the ball

The Eagles’ passing offense has been soaring with back-up Nick Foles in at quarterback. They dominated the Vikings’ number-one ranked defense in the NFC Championship, winning the game by 31 points. Foles has thrown for 598 yards and 3 touchdowns while completing 77.8% of his passes this postseason.

Eagles’ tight-end Zach Ertz and receivers Alshon Jefferey and Torrey Smith have all caught for more than 100 yards in the postseason. Jay Ajayi has been getting a majority of the playoff carries with 30 for 127 yards.

The Eagles traded for Ajayi during the regular season, when they were 7-1. Ajayi was the final piece to the three-headed monster in the Eagles’ backfield.

Another piece of that monster is former Patriot LeGarrette Blount, who won a championship with New England last year. He said there’ll be “no love” when running against his old teammates.

With the quick-strike Eagle offense, the Patriots secondary will have to be on their heels. Only two teams allowed more passing yards than the Patriots this season. New England has a couple of veteran safeties of their own they must rely on in Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung.

Defensive line-man Trey Flowers and linebacker Kyle Van Noy will have to be the main forces for the Patriots and apply pressure to the Eagles o-line if they hope to slow them down.

Heavy-lifting linebacker James Harrison is likely playing his last game in an outstanding career. He’s made game-changing plays on this stage before, and will be looking to do it again. This time in a Patriots’ uniform.

In Conclusion

Super Bowl LII clearly features the two best football teams from this year’s NFL season. There are intriguing matchups to look for all-around the field, no matter who has the ball. And no matter who wins, history will be made. Either Tom Brady gets championship number six, or the Eagles get their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history.

Get the popcorn ready!