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Super Bowl LII picks: 5 reasons why the Eagles will not only cover but win

Nick Foles of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on

Nick Foles of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on against the Atlanta Falcons during the NFC Divisional Playoff game game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 13, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Credit: Getty Images / Abbie Parr

SUPER BOWL LII

EAGLES (15-3) VS. PATRIOTS (15-3)

TV: Ch. 4, 6:30 p.m.; Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9)

Patriots by 4.5; O/U: 48

When the NFL Network airs the 30-minute recap of this Super Bowl one day, it might as well be titled, “Pats & ’Dogs.” Super Bowl LII pits the big, bad Patriots — seeking their third ring in four seasons and sixth during the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era — against the “everyone-counted-us-out” Eagles, eyeing that elusive Lombardi Trophy. Both are No. 1 seeds, but without Carson Wentz, most everyone didn’t give Nick Foles & Co. a chance to make it here. The Eagles were so overlooked that they were a home underdog in both playoff games. They fed off that, sporting dog masks after the divisional-round win over the Falcons, and then chased the Vikings’ top-ranked defense out of the building in a 38-7 thumping in the NFC title game. New England will be Philadelphia’s toughest test yet, but the Eagles are a live underdog in this rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX. Here’s five reasons why the Eagles are the right play with the points, and why they’ll also bring home that first Super Bowl title.

BEWARE OF ’DOGS

In the history of the Super Bowl, favorites are 27-22-2 against the spread (ATS), courtesy of OddsShark.com. But underdogs have ruled lately, going 5-1 over the last six games, 8-2 over the last 10 and 12-4 over the last 16. The underdog has won the Super Bowl outright in five of the last six years and seven of 10. The Eagles have relished their ‘dog role this postseason, going 2-0 ATS and you have to believe that will carry over on the game’s biggest stage. Underdogs are 8-1-1 ATS this postseason.

PHLIGHT PLAN

The key to this Super Bowl is going to be Doug Pederson’s play-calling. Expect the Eagles coach to attack, attack, attack a bend-but-don’t-break Patriots defense. New England (9-5-2 ATS) allowed the fifth fewest points per game in the NFL at 18.5, but gave up the fourth-most yards (366). Philly (10-5-1 ATS) will have its red-zone chances and will need to capitalize to win. Don’t think Pederson will play it safe with Foles, either. Not after his virtuoso performance two weeks ago: 26-for-33 for 352 yards and 3 TDs. Pederson is a creative play-caller, so don’t be surprised if he breaks out another flea flicker like he did against Minnesota, and some other gadget plays with speedy receiver Nelson Agholor. If things go Pederson’s way, the Pats’ defense will be gassed by the fourth quarter.

HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE?

The Vikings’ loss will be the Eagles’ gain — again. Expect Eagles fans to flock into Minneapolis and give Philly a home-field feel. Think about it: This is the Eagles’ first Super Bowl since 2005, and you have to think the team’s passionate fan base will far outnumber a Patriots contingent that is used to being in the big game. Don’t be surprised if it’s 70-30 Eagles fans, and in what figures to be a close game, that could be a factor late.

PATS’ SUPER BOWL HISTORY

All Belichick and Brady do is play close Super Bowls. The greatest coach-QB duo in NFL history are 5-2 but only 3-4 ATS. Sorry Pats fans, but let’s face it: If not for boneheaded coaching decisions by the Seahawks and Falcons their last two trips, those records would be 3-4 and 1-6 ATS. In the Pats’ five wins, the final scores were 20-17, 32-29, 24-21, 28-24 and 34-28. The losses: 17-14 and 21-17. All but last year’s overtime thriller wouldn’t have covered this matchup’s point spread. Brady always finds a way, rallying from 28-3 down last season and 24-14 against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. After a while, though, that kind of magic has to run out, right?

EAGLES’ FINE LINE

The Big Blueprint is there to beat Brady in the Super Bowl: Get after him! The Giants did it to perfection in Super Bowl XLII, sacking him five times. The Eagles’ defensive line has a number of playmakers who could deliver haymakers. Look for defensive tackle Fletcher Cox to control the middle while edge rushers Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett and Chris Long wreak havoc. The Jaguars did a solid job in the AFC title game but their inability to get to Brady cost them the game. Stop him on a third-and-18 with a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and you most likely win. Give up a long pass to Danny Amendola instead, and well, it’s on to the Pro Bowl instead of the Super Bowl. The Eagles have the pass rush to rattle Brady and collapse the pocket. Philly allowed the fourth fewest points (18.4) and yards (306.5) this season, and has been exceptional in the playoffs, holding Atlanta and Minnesota to a combined 17 points.

So there you have it. One of the golden rules of picking NFL games against the spread is that when you think an underdog has a chance to win the game, you scoop up those points as fast as Rocky ran up those steps. That’s the case here. Expect Pederson to pick up where he left off in the first two playoff games with a perfect game plan as the Eagles score first (LeGarrette Blount at 14-1 odds or Agholor at 16-1 are good plays) and keep the Pats’ defense on its heels all game. Brady will be Brady in what should be a back-and-forth game that will be decided by a late field goal. In the end, though, Jake Elliott will do his best Adam Vinatieri and kick the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title. Call it Eagles 30, Patriots 27.

The pick: Eagles

Hot ’Dogs

Underdogs have been super in recent history. A look at their numbers against the spread.

5-1*

last six Super Bowls

8-2

last 10

12-4

last 16

8-1-1

Underdogs this postseason

*Underdogs are also 5-1 straight up in the last six Super Bowls

Staff picks and standings

JOE MANNIELLO

Playoff record: 4-5-1

Regular season: 118-124-14

SB LII pick ATS: Eagles

Final score: Eagles 30, Patriots 27

MVP: Jake Elliott

BOB GLAUBER

Playoffs: 3-6-1

Regular season: 117-125-14

SB LII pick ATS: Eagles

Final score: Patriots 27, Eagles 23

MVP: Tom Brady

TOM ROCK

Playoffs: 2-7-1

Regular season: 124-118-14

SB LII pick ATS: Eagles

Final score: Eagles 22, Patriots 19

MVP: Jake Elliott

CALVIN WATKINS

Playoffs: 3-6-1

Regular season: 115-112-13

SB LII pick ATS: Patriots

Final score: Patriots 38, Eagles 31

MVP: Tom Brady

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