Super Bowl LII Spread: Why You Should Bet on Eagles
Over/under 48 points: Philadelphia at New England (-4.5)
If there’s one overwhelming trend in the NFL, it’s that underdogs almost always cover the spread in the Super Bowl — at least, that’s been the case in eight of the past 10 years (should’ve been nine if not for Atlanta’s epic meltdown last season). Few are giving the Eagles, with their backup quarterback, a fighting chance. However, upon closer look, Philadelphia has many matchups in their favor.
First things first, it’s not nearly as impossible to win the Super Bowl with a second-string signal caller as many are making it out to be. Matter of fact, nine teams have pulled off the feat in the 51-year history of the big game. Nine times! Heck, the quarterback opposing Nick Foles on Sunday — Tom Brady — did it. Why not the Eagles?
Aside from quarterback and head coach, a strong case can be made Philadelphia is more talented than New England on each front. Of course, you can’t brush off the all-time great connection between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, who are playing in their NFL-record eighth Super Bowl together. But still, this Eagles squad is loaded from top to bottom.
Above all, they enter Sunday with a nasty defensive line. At this point, it’s public domain that the best way to beat Brady is pressuring him from start-to-finish — with as little defenders as possible. That was proven by the Giants in two victories over Brady in the Super Bowl or more recently, the Broncos from a few years ago. Well, the Eagles are more than capable of replicating that formula.
Take their performance in two playoff games, for example. Against Matt Ryan, Philadelphia hurried the former MVP on 16 of 39 dropbacks (41 percent). They fared better against Case Keenum, who was pressured on 24 of 50 (48 percent) dropbacks.
Those figures are made more impressive when you consider the Eagles only called eight and seven blitzes in those games, respectively. It’s painfully obvious they can do damage with their defensive line only.
Beyond just muddling Brady’s pocket to throw in, this Philly defense can also turn New England’s offense one dimensional. No one is better against the run than them, evident by their league-low 79.2 yards allowed per game during the regular season.
As good as this Eagles defense is, the Patriots will still get their points. They were first in yards (394.2) and second in points (28.6) per game during the regular season. Therefore, the Foles-led attack will need to do their part, and they should.
It’s tough to imagine which Foles will show up on Sunday. The play-not-to-lose one against Atlanta or the gunslinger versus Minnesota? The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. Foles won’t beat himself (zero picks during the playoffs), but it’s unlikely to expect another three-touchdown outing.
There should be opportunities to get the offense going against New England’s middle-of-the-road defense, though. The reigning champions ranked 30th in pass defense and 20th against the run. Their success has come mostly on getting critical third-down or red-zone stops, holding opponents to the fifth-least points at 18.5 (Philly ranked fourth in the same category).
Nonetheless, the Eagles have shown a knack for getting in the endzone in red-zone opportunities. They converted 65 percent of such trips for touchdowns in 2017 — which ranked second in the NFL (the Patriots were right behind at three).
The over/under 48 points is a real toss-up, however, we lean with the over based off the last stat. If either gets down in the 20-yard box, they can punch it in. Both have can’t miss targets in tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Zach Ertz. Eagles can also hand it off to former-Patriot and human wrecking ball LeGarrette Blount.
All things considered, we really like the Eagles chances on Sunday. No, we’re not saying they’ll top the greatest NFL dynasty of all time and bring home their first-ever Super Bowl title. However, that four-and-a-half-point spread is more than coverable.
If you’re betting strictly moneyline, New England will likely raise their sixth Vince Lombardi trophy this Sunday. However, it won’t come nearly as easy as you’d expect.
Pick: Eagles (+4.5) and over
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