Most will agree that the major differentiator between the two teams playing Super Bowl LII is the quarterbacks. Imagine if it had been the top 2 MVP candidates in Carson Wentz and Tom Brady. Instead we've got Brady and Eagles backup Nick Foles. Huge advantage for New England.
The Eagles, some (including me) will argue, have the better defense in this game. That's true. Much better run defense, statistically better pass defense, and a lot more opportunistic. Maybe that will enable them to spring the upset.
But the numbers show an Eagles defense that didn't fare well against top quarterbacks this season. "Top" is both subjective and tricky. Is Eli Manning a top quarterback? He certainly has been at times in the past, but wasn't for the most part this season. "Benched for Geno Smith" will always be on his resume.
But I decided to include Manning, and for that matter division foe Kirk Cousins, as top quarterbacks. I included Matt Ryan, who didn't put up top numbers but all season, but he's Matt Ryan, so I had to keep him. And I decided to leave off the following names: Alex Smith, Dak Prescott, Cam Newton, Jared Goff, Derek Carr, Case Keenum, Mitchell Trubisky and the quarterbacks from San Francisco and Denver. A couple of good quarterbacks in there, perhaps, but none anything close to Brady's level -- not in 2017, at least.
That left me with eight quarterbacks (including the postseason) more or less comparable to Brady to who faced the Eagles this year.
|TOP QUARTERBACKS VERSUS PHILADELPHIA|
So of those eight quarterbacks, five threw for at least 291 yards against Philadelphia. Five also threw multiple touchdowns; four of them threw 3 TDs. Given the level that Brady is at, that actually seems pretty close to his floor: 290ish yards and 2-3 TDs.
Those quarterbacks combined for 5 interceptions; also not promising for the Eagles against Brady. The pass rush numbers are a little more favorable: 18 sacks in eight games. That's an average type performance, but at least some chance the Eagles come away with 3 sacks against Brady, maybe getting some stops or forcing a turnover.
Without that, will be very tough for the Eagles to make a game of it on Sunday.