How will Bill Belichick beat the “Underdog” Philadelphia Eagles?

How will Bill Belichick beat the “Underdog” Philadelphia Eagles?

Super Bowl LII is five days away, and both the Patriots and Eagles are trying to perfect their craft. The Patriots look to win their sixth title, while the Eagles attempt to win their first. This looks to be an exciting match, but there is one factor that gives the Pats and advantage: Bill Belichick. How will he fare against the “Underdog” Philadelphia Eagles?

Eagles DT Beau Allen and DE Chris Long with dog masks on, depicting their "underdog" mentality.

“The Hoodie” is among the best coaches of all time, and his legacy will become further strengthened with a win on Sunday. However, with the Eagles having a dangerous defence and an explosive offence, he has his work cut out for him. How can Belichick get it done this time? This article will provide five key points which will help the Pats eclipse a victory.

Patriots HC Bill Belichick.

1. Develop the run game early in order to wear down the defensive line. 

Anyone who knows anything about football knows Fletcher Cox is among the best in the business. He and this defensive line have wreaked havoc this season. In order for the Patriots to win, they must slow down Cox and Co., since one of Brady’s main weaknesses is to deal with pressure early. Remember when Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora completely dominated Brady in Super Bowl XLII? Cox, Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham, Beau Allen, Chris Long and rookie Derek Barnett will perform that kind of pressure. It’s up to Belichick to create unique blocking schemes and to make the run game work early in order to slow down the front four.

Eagles DT Fletcher Cox.

2. Give the Patriots running backs a lot of rotation. 

Many question why the Patriots do not have a bell-cow running back and instead have a committee. My theory is that every running back has his own running style, so trying to game plan for multiple backs is difficult. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz might be able to shut out Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead, but might not have an adequate game plan for James White, Mike Gillislee, or Brandon Bolden.

Depending on who emerges, one of the running backs will be able to figure out the Eagles defence. Then, they can become the fourth quarter running back to win the game.

3. Use Dwayne Allen as a blocker for the majority of the game. 

Rob Gronkowski could be out for the Super Bowl, and Dwayne Allen won’t be the big pass-catcher they need. However, Allen is an exceptional blocker and almost acts as a sixth offensive lineman. This will be necessary, since this dominant defensive line will be able to get after Brady.

Patriots TE Dwayne Allen.

4. Capitalize on the Eagles’ rookie mistakes. 

The one distinct difference between the Patriots and Eagles is the degree of Super Bowl experience each team has. Brady and Belichick have been there and done that, while the majority of the Eagles players have never been this deep in the playoffs. With that, Belichick will know that some of the younger Eagles will make some critical mistakes. Some players to look out for are: Jalen Mills, Nelson Agholor, Hal Vaitai and Derek Barnett.

The mistakes some young players could make might define their career, and it’s Bill Belichick’s job to capitalize on their mistakes.

Eagles CB Jalen Mills.

5. Put the pressure on Nick Foles. 

Nick Foles has shown that you can be an average quarterback and get to a Super Bowl. In the last four Super Bowls Belichick has been in, he’s faced: Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson and Eli Manning–twice. Nick Foles is a major step back from those quarterbacks, and he doesn’t receive pressure well.

Left tackle Hal Vaitai doesn’t have a lot of competition against this weak Patriots pass rush, but that doesn’t mean James Harrison won’t put it all on the table. If Foles is pressured, especially late in the game, the Patriots offence may have an easier time than most expected.

Patriots LB James Harrison.

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32 Teams in 32 Days: New England Patriots

32 Teams in 32 Days: New England Patriots

Key Additions 

Mike Gillislee: Gillislee was one of New England’s quieter free agency acquisitions this offseason, but could be a large part of their offense this season. Formerly of the Buffalo Bills, Gillislee sat behind star running back Lesean McCoy and was a solid compliment to him as a number two back. As apart of the Patriots, Gillislee has the chance to become a productive member of this offense.

Brandin Cooks: Acquired via trade with the New Orleans Saints in exchange for a first round pick, wide receiver Brandin Cooks is set to become Tom Brady’s new favorite target. His ground-breaking speed and catch radius skills will give this offense a new dimension. Cooks will benefit from his fellow receivers as he won’t be constantly double-teamed, since Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski will catch defensive coordinator’s attention.

Stephon Gilmore: Formerly of the Buffalo Bills, star cornerback Stephon Gilmore joined the Patriots in free agency this offseason. Gilmore is a good mix of being a ball hawk as well as a sound tackling corner. He and Malcolm Butler will form one of the league’s top cornerback duo and help New England compete for another Super Bowl run.

The Offense

The offense is one of the best in the league. 40 year old quarterback Tom Brady remains among one of the best players in the league and shows few signs of regression. The receiving corps is loaded with depth and the addition of Brandin Cooks makes this group elite. If healthy, tight end Rob Gronkowski is easily the best at his position. The offensive line is a top 15 unit, and if left tackle Nate Solder comes back healthy from injury and plays well, this group could be at the brink of being a top 10 unit.

The Defense 

The defense isn’t as good as the offense, but it’s still a top 10 unit. The defensive line is young but could see an improvement this year with a solid season from Trey Flowers and Malcom Brown.

The linebackers are lead by star linebacker Dont’a Hightower and can see more veteran leadership from free agency signing David Harris, formerly of the New York Jets. Other players like Elandon Roberts and Shea McClellin round out a solid unit.

The secondary is by far the biggest strength on this defense. Cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler will prove to be a solid duo. Safeties Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung make this secondary an elite group.

Team Schedule and Season Outlook

Best Case Scenario: (14-2)

I don’t buy into the 16-0 hype that’s around this team. Although this team could reach those heights because of their talent, the schedule is too difficult to go undefeated. Playing the AFC West and the NFC South will be challenging and they’re bound to lose to teams that are worse than them.

If they go 14-2, they’ll only lose to competitive teams like the Chiefs, Raiders, Falcons or Steelers. They’ll need to forget about winning Super Bowl LI and focus primarily on this season.

Worst Case Scenario: (11-5)

I think their worst case scenario is their most realistic scenario. Winning back to back Super Bowls is a struggle in itself. Add the fact that their schedule is loaded with playoff contenders, and they’ll have a tough time winning more than 11 games. It won’t matter too much since they’re bound to win the division, but they are not a shoe-in to have a first round bye. Look for the Patriots to have a small Super Bowl hangover.

My Predictions

Week 1: vs. Kansas City

Result: (0-1)

Week 2: @ New Orleans

Result: (1-1)

Week 3: vs. Houston

Result: (2-1)

Week 4: vs. Carolina

Result: (3-1)

Week 5: @ Tampa Bay

Result: (4-1)

Week 6: @ NY Jets

Result: (5-1)

Week 7: vs. Atlanta

Result: (5-2)

Week 8: vs. LA Chargers

Result: (5-3)

Week 9: Bye Week

Week 10: @ Broncos

Result: (6-3)

Week 11: @ Oakland

Result: (6-4)

Week 12: vs. Miami

Result: (6-5)

Week 13: @ Buffalo

Result: (7-5)

Week 14: @ Miami

Result: (8-5)

Week 15: @ Pittsburgh

Result: (9-5)

Week 16: vs. Buffalo

Result: (10-5)

Week 17: vs. NY Jets

Result: (11-5)

In conclusion, the Patriots will make the playoffs by winning the AFC East (again). Their tough schedule and recent Super Bowl win will make this team underwhelm compared to their lofty expectations.