@TouchdownTips – For further posts, see touchdowntips.com
The culmination of 266 games between 32 teams is here, and the two remaining teams give us a rematch of Superbowl 39, a game which the Patriots won 24-21, with of course Brady and Belichick leading them to that victory back in 2004. It was the 3rd win for them in 4 years, a feat which they look to emulate this week in Minneapolis.
This matchup provides the top seeds of each division, both teams finishing with a 13-3 record in the regular season. It will be the 13th time the top seeds have faced each other in the title game since seeding was introduced in 1975.
By all rights the Eagles shouldn’t have made it this far, they got to the record they had during the regular season largely because of a potential MVP campaign from Carson Wentz in his second year in the league. He took a huge step forward this season and his athleticism was a huge asset for the team for much of the season. Realistically the ACL injury that put him out for the season and probably most of the off-season should have ended their season. BUT they have stepped up in his absence with both lines proving they were indeed Superbowl calibre.
I have quoted to the yards available when I wrote this (26/1/18) as the lowest available as most of us generally choose to go over. If you check oddschecker you may be able to find different lines if you want to go under on any of them.
Even Nick Foles (currently set at 240.5 passing yards) finally proved his worth in the Championship game last week. His story is a weird one! He’s thrown 7 TDs in a game, he’s had a 13 game season of 27:2 TD:INT so he’s obviously got the abilities and his stats from last week were, frankly, ridiculous. Though 26 from 33 attempts gave a 78.8% completion rate, and a pass rating of a near perfect 141.4, his downfield passing was hugely improved over the game against the Falcons and playing in the dome in Minnesota should help him greatly.Embed from Getty Images
Those ratings were, in fact better than Wentz put up in any single game this season. He threw for 3 TDs in that game, a 53 yarder, a 41 yarder and then finished with a 5 yard pass for Alshon Jefferys’ second. I wouldn’t normally concentrate so much on one previous match but the way the game unfolded was significant and in particular the downfield passing of Foles is worthy of note, especially as that game was against one of the best secondaries in the league. Also with the lack of much else to judge Foles from I guess the most recent makes the most sense. He wasn’t great before that game though, the game against the Falcons was pretty awful but we can attribute at least a little of that to the weather, it was cold and windy. It will be neither of those things in the the dome this week.
So which Foles do we think will turn up? I doubt he will reach the heights of last week, but he should be better than his season up to that point. I think he’ll be serviceable, the Pats won’t be an easy out for him though, the Pats will have seen that film and they won’t make it easy for players to get free downfield as they did last week. They should be able to protect him though, the Pats don’t have the best pass rush and the Eagles offensive line is one of the best in the league.
The best running back they have is (London Born) Jay Ajayi (65.5 rush yards – 9/4 TD) and 16.5 attempts on PP, a line that I think he’ll be under, Britain’s very own… He was born over here you know… In London… He’s BRITISH and playing AMERICAN football! If he gets the carries he could probably win the game for them, but he shares the backfield with LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement, and they occasionally even mix in Kenjon Barner as well, it’s a bit of a mess back there.
He has had the bulk of the carries for the team in the play-offs though and they signed him pretty much exclusively for this post-season run so it seems to me like they’ll run him around 15 times this week. He has averaged a very nice 5.8 yards per carry and has a long of over 10 in each game since joining the Eagles and usually won’t go down from the first tackle, he usually pops up with a few catches as well so he does have a pretty decent involvement in the games. Blount (25.5 rush yards – 13/5 TD) has scored rushing TDs in both of their post-season matches, equalling what he had in all 16 regular season games before that (He did have a receiving TD in the first game of the season). He’s been used in goal line situations in both games which is frustrating if you’re on Ajayi for anything, but it’s what he does, and he does it well, he will be wanting to show the Patriots what they missed out by jettisoning him after last years Superbowl.Embed from Getty Images
Corey Clement (13.5 rush yards – 5/1 TD) has been used a lot as a third down back, the new Darren Sproles, he’s a tough one to judge and in fact came up a half yard short on probably my most confident bet from last week, finishing with 28 combined yards. I definitely wouldn’t take 13.5 rush yards, but around 30 combined yards will probably be the line once they get that one sorted out. He’s usually one I’d look for as an anytime scorer as well, 5/1 is probably a little short for me to risk too. Others – Kenjon Barner – 20/1
The passing game is a tough one for me to figure out as well, I can’t work out whether he prefers the tight end Zach Ertz, WRs Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor or even Torrey Smith. My first thought would be that Ertz (54.5 rec. yards – 7/4 TD) is his favoured target, he caught 8 of 8 for 93 yards last week and has had a very good season, scoring 8 times, although a lot of his production was with Wentz with just 1 has come from playing with Foles, again with such a small sample size it’s tough, but last weeks receptions, 8 for Ertz, 5 for Jeffery, 5 for Torrey Smith, 3 for Agholor, 3 for Ajayi.
Looking a little further back into it (sorry for the numbers, but I’m struggling to get a feel for this team – These are the target numbers in the games the Foles started (excluding the Dallas game) – Ertz – 14,9,5,8. Jeffery – 10,2,5,5. Agholor – 9,7,4,3. So… After all this, I believe the Ertz will be the higher targeted player by Foles in this game, add to that the the Partiots probably have better corners than they do linebackers, and I think it would make sense for the Eagles to target the middle of the field with the tight end.
So if I’m going with that then I’ll class Alshon Jeffery (60.5 – 23/10) as his preffered WR target. He’s had a great season since joining as a FA from the Bears and fair play to him for that decision, he could have secured a long-term deal elsewhere but chose a 1 year “prove-it” deal with the Eagles, and he’s obviously done that with the team signing him for 4 years. I do find him hard to judge but he’s a big bodied strong receiver who can cause most CBs issues, he scored 2 last week against the Vikings, one a 53 yards bomb (he only put up 29 yards with his other 4 catches).Embed from Getty Images
The slot guy who they seemed to want to get more involved was Nelson Agholor (38.5 – 3/1) after a horrible 2016/17 where he could barely catch a ball he’s proven himself more than adequate in this side and has been pretty important in their Superbowl run. I have definitely noted that his targets with Foles have been dropping since he took to the field the first time and he’s already cost me money in this run, but he could do well here against the Patriots team that gives up around 58 yards per game to WR2s.
Torrey Smith (35.5 – 7/2) is the wildcard here, he’s always had the pace and the ability to catch the ball downfield as he did from a perfectly thrown 41 yard pass from Foles last week, but he’s even tougher to call, he’s had 3,5,4,8 targets from Foles so he’s been involved. There’s a few other guys, the likes of Mack Hollins (9.5 – 14/1), Trey Burton (11.5 – 17/2) and Brent Celek (3.5 – 18/1) who can pop up with plays, Hollins is the younger Torrey Smith essentially, Burton and Celek are the other tight ends on the roster, who have been known to also chip in with catches and TDs over the season, Burton “famously” scored 2 earlier at 500/1. Obviously these guys are practically impossible to call, but if you think they’ll catch a pass, there’s a good chance they’ll beat their prop lines!
The Eagles defence has been one of the best in the league this year, ranking 4th in total yards allowed, 17th against the pass and 1st against the run. They were 4th in interceptions with a +11 turnover differential in the regular season, 3rd in 3rd downs allowed and best against 4th down attempts. Looking into that run defense a little more, they allowed 6 rushing TDs on the year, but 5 to pass-catching RBs, that could well be where the Pats decide to attack with one of their many pass-catching backs, either that or just through the air in general, the Eagles gave up the 6th most receptions during the regular season.
The more I write the better I think the Eagles match up against a Patriots team that usually does a good job of taking away your best weapon. Who is that here? I would argue it’s Ertz, but they have great depth in both the pass and run game so it will be tough if you concentrate on one particular player
Summary of Eagles (so far…) –
- Tribet – Any other result – 2/1 – 365
- 1st qtr points – u10 – 1/1 – 365
- 1st qtr TDs – u1.5 – 4/9 – 365
- Eagles first half FG – o0.5 – 4/7 – 365
- Team to receive opening Kick – Eagles – 10/11 – PP
- Mack Hollins o9.5 rec. yards – 5/6 – PP
- Jay Ajayi u16.5 rush attempts – 5/6 – PP
- First team penalised for PI – Eagles – 1/1 – PP