The Patriots face the Eagles in Philadelphia on Sunday (4:25 p.m.) in a rematch of Super Bowl LII. By the opinions of several members of Eagles media, the Patriots are expected to gain a measure of revenge for the championship loss.
Of course, New England responded to its 2018 Super Bowl defeat with a win in 2019 (and is currently 8-1). Philadelphia regressed a season ago, and is off to an uneven 5-4 start this year.
Before the two teams meet, here are a few opinions coming from Eagles media:
The Patriots remain an unknown quantity.
One consistent point brought up in the Philadelphia discussion of the Patriots is the fact that New England started its season going 8-0 against largely underwhelming competition.
“The Patriots coasted in the first eight games, beating their opponents by a combined score of 250-61,” wrote Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “But when they had to face a team with some heft on the road in Week 9, they lost in convincing fashion to the Ravens, 37-20. Even the best teams are bound to lose, but there’s still a little mystery as to how great this New England unit may actually be.”
There is also a perception that the dominant Patriots’ defense has “inflated numbers.”
“A closer look at the numbers and game situations reveals that the Patriots have taken advantage of some quarterbacks who are borderline starters: Josh Rosen, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Luke Falk, Josh Allen, Matt Barkley and Colt McCoy,” noted CBS sports director Don Bell. “Most fans couldn’t pick these guys out of a lineup. So, yes, the Patriots’ defense is good, but the numbers are inflated.”
The Eagles must run the ball.
“There’s really no way to beat the Patriots other than to run, run, run and maybe take a few play-action shots,” wrote CBS reporter Pat Gallen. “Jordan Howard has been limited in practice this week, which would probably be a death knell should he miss the game. If he misses the game, along with Alshon Jeffery, it’s probably going to be a chore to score.”
As was pointed out, the Patriots have actually surrendered a fairly high yards per carry average, but just haven’t had to face too many rushing attempts because of the game flow in most weeks.
“There is a path to an Eagles victory here, involving running the ball, never turning it over, chewing up clock with long drives that end in touchdowns, keeping Tom Brady off the field for extended periods,” wrote Les Bowen of the Inquirer. “Whether that path is viable might hinge on whether the 4.7 yards per carry the Pats are allowing is legit — they just don’t play the run well — or it’s the product of outscoring teams 87-17 in the first quarter, 153-48 in the first half, and not caring much about stopping the run after that.”
The role of Julian Edelman.
One Patriots player who was conspicuously absent from Super Bowl LII was wide receiver Julian Edelman, who was out for the season with a torn ACL. A favorite target of Brady, Edelman will likely factor heavily into the game.
Lining up against him will potentially be Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox.
“In 2019, the [Edelman] has 63 catches for 663 yards and four touchdowns,” wrote NBC Philadelphia’s Dave Zangaro. “To put that in perspective, the Eagles’ top two receivers (not including tight ends) are Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. They have a combined 66 catches for 635 yards and six touchdowns. Edelman is a real threat.”