Jacob Hebda | Staff Writer
Back in early December, just a couple days after Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending knee injury, I overheard a classmate making a bold, seemingly unfathomable declaration. He guaranteed that the Eagles, with Nick Foles at the helm, would win the Super Bowl.
The National Football League is driven by quarterbacks. Only one non-quarterback (running back Adrian Peterson in 2012) has won the Most Valuable Player Award during the last 10 years. So it is easy to understand why just about everyone, myself included, considered the Wentz-less Eagles to be out of the picture.
Yet here we are, just a few days out from the Super Bowl, with the underdog Philadelphia Eagles preparing to face the modern dynasty that is the New England Patriots. While both teams were their respective conference’s top seed, this is not the matchup most expected.
Coming into the year, the Patriots were a preseason Super Bowl favorite. Some thought New England might even make a run at an undefeated season. Despite not achieving a perfect record, they are exactly where we all expected them to be.
The Eagles, on the other hand, are a much more surprising team. Until the season began and Carson Wentz started putting together an MVP-caliber year, there was speculation as to whether or not they would even make the playoffs. After Wentz tore his ACL, that uncertainty returned.
Despite finishing the season 2-1 with Foles at quarterback, Philadelphia opened their postseason slate as underdogs, becoming one of the only No. 1 seed ever to be favored to lose in the Divisional Round.
However, the Eagles stunned many by edging the defending NFC Champion Falcons and then clobbering Minnesota. In both games, Philadelphia was predicted to lose.
New England, meanwhile, cruised past the Tennessee Titans before staging a fourth-quarter comeback against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Regardless of their differing paths to the championship, both teams are now in Minneapolis preparing for their showdown Sunday in Super Bowl LII.
The Eagles are once again underdogs, largely due to the fact they are facing the greatest coach-quarterback pair of all-time in Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Together, the duo has five Super Bowl victories.
The Patriots are also one of the most disciplined teams in all of sports. In the AFC Championship, they drew just one penalty for 10 yards.
Already, it is easy to see why Philadelphia is the biggest Super Bowl underdog since 2009. However, you might not want to write off this Eagles team so quickly.
The Eagles have had one of the best defenses in the NFL this season, ranking No. 4 in total defense. In their two playoff games so far, against 2016 MVP Matt Ryan and 2017 MVP candidate Case Keenum, they gave up just 17 combined points.
It also worth noting that Nick Foles, despite his backup status, is an experienced play caller. Although inconsistent, Foles has also had some terrific moments in his career. In 2013, he was a Pro Bowler and tied the single-game NFL passing touchdown record on Nov. 3, 2013, tossing seven touchdowns for the Eagles versus the Raiders.
He is also 4-1 since taking over for Wentz, with the only loss coming in a meaningless season finale.
With all that being said, will the Eagles have enough to shock the Patriots and the football world alike?
It should be exciting to watch one of sports’ best dynasties face off against one of the best stories in the NFL this year. The Patriots are, as they should be, favored to take home a sixth Lombardi Trophy, which would tie the Pittsburgh Steelers for most all-time.
However, the sports world is an unpredictable place. It was just last year that we saw the largest comeback and first ever overtime game in Super Bowl history.
So don’t be surprised if you wake up Monday morning to find the Eagles are this year’s Super Bowl champions. In fact, I’m picking Philadelphia to defeat New England, 27-24.
As good as the Patriots are, the Eagles have powered through adversity all season long. They are a deep team with plenty of talent, and Foles has shown he is more than capable leading the offense. There’s little reason as to why they can’t surprise us all again.