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Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots Point Spread - Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (15-3 SU, 12-6 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (15-3 SU, 12-6 ATS)
Super Bowl LII
Date/Time: Sunday, February 4, 2018 at 6:30PM EST
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
TV: NBC

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: PHI +5.5/NE -5.5
Over/Under Total: 48

The Philadelphia Eagles take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII on February 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Both teams have won 15 out of their 18 games, including the postseason, while covering the spread a massive 24 times out of their 36 combined contests this season. The defending champion Patriots had a real game on their hands in the AFC title game, overcoming a 10-point deficit in the final quarter to corral a 24-20 win over the upstart Jaguars. The Eagles faced less drama, scoring their second upset of the postseason with a rousing 38-7 smashing of the Minnesota Vikings, spoiling the Vikes' chance to play the big game in their home stadium. While the odds favor the defending champion Pats, the Eagles have shown they belong, overcoming adversity to get to this spot. Let's see if we can figure out who will get the win in this Super Bowl 52 preview.

For the Eagles, they are searching for their first Super Bowl win. They played in the Super Bowl following the 1980 and 2004 seasons. In their last appearance in this spot, they lost Super Bowl XXXIX to the Patriots, 24-21. It was the third Super Bowl win for the Patriots with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. All told, they have won five, with this being the eighth time they have played in the Big Game. Obviously, their massive big-game experience is part of the equation making the Pats such big favorites.

When you go back to last season's Super Bowl and this last conference title game, we see the Patriots are more than mere frontrunners. When the chips are down, they have a knack of reacting well. They came from way off the pace to win the Super Bowl last year. And against the Jaguars, it took a massive effort on both sides of the ball to get to this game. With Rob Gronkowski knocked out of the game and trailing 20-10 in the final quarter, we saw Tom Brady at his best, threading the needle to complete big passes en route to the big win. And a New England defense that looked exploitable early held the Jags to only a pair of second-half field goals to help stage the big comeback win.

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Yes, he's 40 and one would expect that to materialize at some point, but those who continue to question Brady are left grasping for answers more often than not. Even with his throwing hand compromised by a bad cut, he was dynamic, especially late. He was putting the ball on tiny targets, with a big assist from those around him. Danny Amendola caught 7 passes, all of them big, including two touchdowns. WR Brandin Cooks had a 100-yard game. And they naturally expect "Gronk" to return in time for this, with the two week break coming in handy. They didn't run the ball all that well, but their big cast of ball-catching backs is a major part of their approach. Against Jacksonville, James White ran in a score, while Dion Lewis caught 7 balls. And playing a defense that is as good, stout, and playmaking as Jacksonville's was about as good a preparation as you can get when preparing to take on the Eagles and their standout defense.

The New England defense is by no means infallible. If you look at how they played early in the season and even against Jacksonville early, it seems like they can victimized. But whether it is mid-game adjustments or game-planning, they take a backseat to no team. At the end of big games, it's no accident that the Pats are almost always the team with the momentum in their corner. And the defense doesn't always get enough credit. We see Brady doing his thing, but part of the reason he's succeeding is because the defense knows how to stem the tide. Early on, it looked like a long day was shaping up for the New England "D." But in the second half, when the Jags needed really just a few big plays to give their prospects a huge boost, the "D" wouldn't allow it. In the middle, Malcolm Brown and Lawrence Guy helped stop the run, while end Trey Flowers was all over the field and Bortles in particular. Late in the game, we saw the secondary really deliver, with Malcolm Butler, Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, and Stephon Gilmore getting it done. Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts were very effective in the middle. The coaching really helps bring it all together and they always seem to step up late in games when the chips are in the middle of the pot.

The Eagles are easy to underestimate. Just the idea of a Super Bowl team with Nick Foles at quarterback doesn't even sound right on the surface. But they were able to beat a peaking Falcons team, which caught some people by surprise. After an early-first quarter touchdown by the Vikings, the Eagles scored 38 unanswered points to win easily against the favored Vikes. Nick Foles was fantastic and it looks like they might actually be able to make this happen without Carson Wentz—something not a lot of people thought was in the cards this season after he went down to a knee injury. And with their defense, a lot is possible. Made to look ordinary early against Minnesota, they were dominant for the duration of the game. In their last two games of the regular season, they allowed a combined 16 points. They haven't slowed down in the playoffs, allowing a total of 17 points in two games.

The Philly offense is obviously diminished without Wentz. After all, you can't lose an MVP candidate at quarterback right before the postseason and not pay the price, right? We shouldn't be so sure. Against a good Minnesota defense, Nick Foles was 26-for-33 passing with a robust 352 yards and three touchdowns. He was cool in the pocket and ultra-accurate with his throws. He brought everyone along for the ride. In the run game, Jay Ajayi ran for 73 yards and made some big catches, while LeGarrette Blount ran in a score. His main ball-catchers were all effective. Alshon Jeffery had 85 yards and two touchdowns. Zach Ertz caught 8 balls for 93 yards. Torrey Smith had 69 yards and a TD, while Nelson Agholor had some big catches on the day. The offensive line played well, sprung a little run game, and limited the Minnesota defense to one sack on the day.

When Minnesota scored early to take a 7-0 lead, it looked like the Eagles' defense was in for a long day. It didn't take long for things to get turned around in a big way. CB Patrick Robinson took a Case Keenum pass and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown. They started pressuring the quarterback and before long, the defense was clicking on all cylinders. The Vikes were shut out for the duration of the game, with three turnovers playing a big role. And in those critical situations where they needed to step up, they did just that. The secondary is a playmaking one, with Ronald Darby, Malcolm Jenkins, Jalen Mills, Rodney McLeod, and others like Robinson really getting after it. Their D-line can control games in spots, with Fletcher Cox one of the best in the business at defensive end, along with difference-makers Chris Long, Brandon Graham, and Vinny Curry doing a heck of a job. They pressure the passer, stop the run, and make the kinds of big plays that can tip a game in their team's favor.

The Patriots, as defending Bowl champs, have obviously shown their championship mettle. And they have overcome adversity. This season has presented some injury issues in their playmaking department. And within games, they have overcome adversity, coming back to win the Bowl last season and turning things around in the AFC title game against Jacksonville when it was looking bad. But the Eagles' character can't be undersold. For them to keep their machine moving forward after losing their quarterback shows a lot of mettle. And for them to fall behind 7-0 and come back to annihilate the Vikings says to the world that overlooking them could come at a price.

It's a bit strange that a Patriots team that required late-game dramatics in their conference title game is such a favorite over an Eagles team that crushed a good Vikings team to get here. One can understand the sentiment, however, to some extent. Just in terms of prestige, the gap between Brady and Foles is Grand Canyon-like. One is the greatest ever and the other was an afterthought up until a few weeks ago. A casual fan probably didn't even know Foles was on the Eagles until Wentz was injured. But watching how good Foles looked against Minnesota and how hard the Pats struggled to beat the Jaguars, is it really that hard to picture this being a competitive contest?

It's not easy to take the Eagles in this spot. If they ever were to hit a wall, it would be here. The Pats are the kind of team accustomed to glory. It's a football machine created for championships and getting over that hump is not easy. Time is running out on Brady and Belichick, as these opportunities are down to a precious few remaining ones. But even if I were inclined to give the Patriots the nod as the superior overall football machine, it's not by much. I'm going to trust what my eyes see in this one and not to try to outsmart myself. I'm taking the Eagles and the points to cover the Super Bowl point spread.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Philadelphia Eagles plus 5.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet on Super Bowl LII from home by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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