It’s Super Bowl week! Time to grab your wings and beer and get prepared for one of the biggest parties of the year.
But enough about the parties, we’re here to read about the game!
A football game is often compared to a game of chess as coaches try to strategically out-maneuver their opponent. Matchups are a big part of that.
I will highlight a few key matchups to keep your eye on Sunday as the New England Patriots attempt to win back-to-back Super Bowls and the Philadelphia Eagles attempt to win their first.
When the Eagles have the ball you should key on:
Zach Ertz vs. Patrick Chung
Ertz had an impressive year for the Eagles catching 74 passes for 824 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s caught 11 of 13 targets for 125 yards in the playoffs. The Patriots defense has been pretty good against the tight end, ranking 11th in the NFL allowing about 4.5 catches for 44 yards.
Quarterback Nick Foles and Ertz were a force early in the NFC title game for the Eagles, and they’ll need to get cooking early for the Eagles to have a chance.
Lane Johnson vs. James Harrison
Harrison has looked good for the Patriots after a subpar regular season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 40 year-old linebacker has had more snaps in the postseason with New England than he did in 14 regular season games with the Steelers.
Standing between him and Foles is all-pro tackle Lane Johnson. If the Eagles are forced to throw it, how big of a force can Harrison be. Can they get him away from Johnson?
When the Patriots have the ball you should key on:
Tom Brady vs. Philadelphia secondary
Brady is arguably the best of all-time. There’s no denying that. The Eagles are the number 10 defense against the quarterback this year, which is impressive for a team with a 13-3 regular season record.
Brady is another challenge. Just ask the Jacksonville Jaguars who owned the fourth best defense against quarterbacks this year. They held him in check for nearly 40 minutes, before Brady balled out.
Rob Gronkowski vs. Malcolm Jenkins
Gronkowski left the AFC Championship game with a concussion and is set to play on Sunday. Over the past few years Gronkowski has been Brady’s favorite target and the Eagles rank 13th against tight ends.
Jenkins is a physical safety, so it will be interesting to see how Gronkowski deals with the physicality after the concussion.
Danny Amendola and Dion Lewis vs. Eagles kick coverage
Amendola is a threat on punt returns. He’s averaged 8.6 yards per return this year and had a big one against the Jaguars in the AFC title game.
Lewis returned a kickoff for a touchdown this season and ranked fourth in the NFL with an average return of 24.8 yards.
Both of these guys are threats to change the field position battle, and with Tom Brady behind the helm, special teams will be especially important to Philadelphia this Sunday.
Stay tuned throughout the week as GOTR brings you plenty of Super Bowl week goodies.