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This is the eighth Super Bowl since the 2001 season that has featured Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Another win would give Brady the most Super Bowl rings of any player in the history of the NFL. He’s currently tied at five with Charles Haley.
For the Eagles, this would be their first Super Bowl victory. Their most recent appearance in the Super Bowl was against these same Patriots back in 2004, a game they lost by a narrow margin.
This time, the Eagles will be attempting to take down the Patriots with Nick Foles at quarterback. The backup took over after Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending knee injury before the playoffs.
Otherwise, both teams are coming into the game relatively healthy. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been cleared to play after he suffered a concussion during the AFC Championship Game. A few players on each team battled illness during the week leading up to the game but appear good to go. Brady, who played with stitches in his thumb in the AFC Championship Game, should have no limitations in this one.
Philadelphia, the No. 1 seed in the NFC, is in the midst of a Cinderella-type season. It has one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, and the defensive side of the ball can get after the quarterback. But quarterback Nick Foles will serve as the X-factor in this game. He’s done a great job of filling in for Carson Wentz, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury late in the season. However, he must prove that he can go toe-to-toe with Tom Brady.
The Patriots, the No. 1 seed in the AFC, will always have a potent offense with Brady at the helm. But the key to this game for New England is forcing turnovers. This defense only forced 18 turnovers in the regular season, good for 25th in the league. And it hasn’t created any turnovers in the postseason. The Eagles’ offense only coughed the ball up twice in the last two games, which is one of the big reasons why they are competing for the Super Bowl title.
While Brady has had another stellar year, he has shown signs of fallibility—in the Patriots’ first game of the season, for instance, against the Kansas City Chiefs. But when it comes to the biggest games, there’s still no one you would rather have under center than Brady, and no better coach at scheming gameplans or keeping ice-cold under pressure than Belichick.
That said, if anyone has the ability to stop the Patriots it’s the Eagles, who have famously never won a Super Bowl. Doug Pederson’s team is especially strong across a defensive line anchored by Fletcher Cox, the All-Pro defensive tackle. If the Eagles can collapse the pocket on Brady and harry him, they can beat the Patriots. Remember the Jacksonville Jaguars pushed New England close in the AFC Championship game, and Philadelphia is a better team than Jacksonville.