The Patriots are seeking their sixth Super Bowl title during the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era, while going for back-to-back championships for the first time since 2003-2004. New England faces Philadelphia in Super Bowl LII on Sunday in Minneapolis, as the Patriots are attempting to win a Super Bowl by more than six points for the first time in franchise history.
We remember the epic comeback that Brady produced in last February’s 34-28 overtime triumph over the Falcons to cash as three-point favorites. Brady captured his fourth Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award by throwing for a SB record 466 yards and overcoming a 28-3 second-half deficit. Brady has racked up multi-touchdown performances in five of seven Super Bowl appearances, while the Patriots are 4-1 in those games.
In the regular season, the Patriots led the league in yards per game (394.2), ranked second in passing yards per game (276.1), and second in points scored (458). The defense struggled to start the season by allowing 128 points in the first four games (32 ppg), but tightened up by yielding 168 points in the next 12 contests (14 ppg) and compiling an 11-1 mark in that stretch.
In two playoff victories over the Jaguars and Titans, New England gave up 34 points, including one touchdown in the second half.
Philadelphia ranked third in the league in points scored with 457, but posted only 19 points in the final two regular season games with six of them scored on a meaningless fumble recovery returned for a touchdown against Oakland in Week 16. The Eagles posted five defensive touchdowns this season, while each of the Patriots’ 48 touchdowns came from their offense.
This season, the Eagles won an NFC-high 13 games, but beat only two playoff teams, the Panthers and Rams. Obviously Philadelphia racked up a pair of victories over playoff squads in the postseason over Atlanta and Minnesota, but the Eagles are hitting the road for the first time since Week 15.
In the last three road games, Philadelphia has allowed 24, 35, and 29 points, while yielding at least 23 points in all four opportunities as a ‘dog away from Lincoln Financial Field.
Many people forget that the Eagles benefited from a much easier schedule than the Patriots due to a lousy 2016 finish, according to Nelson, “A lot is being made of the easy path the Patriots had to get to the Super Bowl, watching the Ravens and Chargers miss the playoffs and then seeing the Chiefs and Steelers get upset in the AFC field.”
“The AFC East is also deservedly criticized but the Eagles mostly built their great season numbers against lousy competition, drawing a fourth place schedule after finishing just 7-9 last season. The regular season schedule for the Eagles only wound up featuring three games against playoff teams with Philadelphia allowing over 28 points per game in those contests. New England wound up playing seven playoff teams in the regular season schedule,” Nelson notes.
Sixteen times in Super Bowl history prior to last season has the game been decided by seven points or less. The next year in this scenario, the Super Bowl has been decided by a double-digit margin 13 times. That bodes well for New England, as favorites are 11-5 SU and 9-7 ATS in these games.
The Patriots have struggled historically in the Super Bowl scoring in the first quarter by not putting up a single point in the past seven tries in the opening 15 minutes. However, New England has stepped up late by posting 19 fourth quarter points against Atlanta last season and 14 points in the last 15 minutes against Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX.
The AFC has captured four of the past five Super Bowl titles, including each of the last three seasons (New England twice and Denver). Being the top seed in the NFC doesn’t equal Super Bowl success as only two teams since 2000 have claimed the title as the number one seed (2009 Saints and 2013 Seahawks).