After winning their fifth Super Bowl last February, the New England Patriots have seemed on a non-stop collision course for a shot at their sixth. Here they are. And there is no doubt that these are the two best coached teams in the league this season. Can Foles take the Eagles over the top? Can Tom Brady break Philadelphian hearts again, 13 years after beating the Eagles in the Super Bowl XXXIX?

We’ve broken down a unit by unit guide to all the key match-ups for the big game and taken a deep dive into what to look after for as a crazy NFL season comes to its conclusion with Super Bowl LII.

New England Patriots vs Philadelphia Eagles

Sun 4th Feb: 11.30pm BBC One & Sky Sports Main Event

Eagles Offense vs Patriots Defence

Since Bill Belichick took over as head coach of the New England Patriots in 2000, the lowest his team has been ranked in scoring defence in 17th. They have had a top-10 scoring defence 14 times.

Even now, with his biggest defensive stars absent the entire season through injury, and reliant on a no-name cast on front-seven players, the Patriots are the 5th ranked scoring defence – allowing only 18.5 points per game. Win or lose, this is Belichick’s swan song.

The hardest part about judging the Eagle’s chances against an all-time defensive genius is that we simply have no clue what to expect. We have only seen Nick Foles start five games this year, and he’s only played well in two of those starts. The only thing we know for sure is that if Philadelphia are to stand any chance, they must get their run game going early and keep up the pressure – keep Brady on the bench and keep Foles comfortable, that’s the recipe.

Fortunately for them, the chink in New England’s armour is their 16th ranked run defence. One would expect Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount to get a heavy workload, but I expect the Eagles to lean on the speed of Corey Clement to keep the defence – which will be expecting the run – guessing.

Corey Clement #30 of the Philadelphia Eagles

Like Jacksonville two weeks ago, I think the Eagles have a chance of building a lead in this game, but I do they have enough diversity to their attack to keep Belichick guessing for 60-minutes? Possibly not.

Tips

Philadelphia Eagles total points under 22

LeGarrette Blount & Corey Clement over 42.5 combine rushing yards 

Corey Clement anytime touchdown scorer 

Patriots Offense vs Eagles Defence

The Eagles defence hasn’t been all-time great this year, but it has undoubtedly spurred this team to success and finished as the league’s 4th ranked scoring defence – allowing 18.4 points per game. Their secret has been the deepest roster in the league, which can bring on starting calibre players across the front 7 in relief of the star studded starting line-up.

This unit though, has two challenges they will face on Sunday – how do they solve a problem like Gronkowski? And how can they stop New England when they go up-tempo?

Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots

Tight end Rob Gronkowski needs no more accolades at this point. Midway through his career he is likely already the best to ever play the position and no team has yet figured out a way to prevent him. If you cover him with a defensive back and take away his pass catching, they will use his size advantage and run behind him all day. If you put a linebacker on him to stop the run, he will run right by them. If you do both and double him, the Patriots have winnable 1-on-1 matchups left open elsewhere. Safety Malcolm Jenkins has as good a shot as anyone to limit him, but we’ve seen the Gronk show too many times to think it’s going to be that easy.

In terms of tempo, this is where the game will be won or lost by the Patriots. If the Eagles defence can stay rested, they have a sizeable personnel advantage. But we have seen countless times Brady shred teams late in halves when the clock starts to tick – he is too smart to let a defence substitute in those situations and will do the same to the Eagles.

I think Philadelphia shows up and gives Brady hell, but – like most of the NFL for the past 17 years – don’t have the goods to keep him out when it matters.

Tips for Super Bowl LII

Last scoring play – New England Patriots touchdown

James White anytime touchdown scorer 

Tom Brady over 285 passing yards and Dion Lewis to score a touchdown

Special Teams

Sometimes there is a clear advantage in the oft-overlooked third phase of this sport. However, it is a sign of how well coached both these teams are that there is not much to separate these units. I wouldn’t bank on either side breaking the game open with a return, but I expect both units to add huge value in their reliability. No advantage here.

Prediction

Patriots 24 – Eagles 17

Prop Bets

Any pick 6 scored

Coin flip – Tails (never fails ????) 

Rob Gronkowski Super Bowl LII MVP

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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