The next week and a half will see so-called experts schlepped through radio and television circuits providing half-baked analysis, while pundits write columns professing the ‘keys to the game’ as this or that.
But I don’t need to remind you that these are the same analysts who wrote off the Birds as soon as Wentz went down. Hell, most of them went as far as to mock the football acumen of those who suggested this team could still compete. Apparently the tried-and-true notion that football is a team sport often won at the L.O.S was too overwhelming of logic for the feeble minds of these experts.
If for the next week and a half you want to avoid the cesspool of groupthink and conceit that makes up the mainstream media (ESPN, FS1) look no further than Full Scale Philly for unfiltered and well-informed takes on the Super Bowl. And if you made it through that excessive (yet necessary) rant, here’s where I think the matchup with New England will be decided:
The Red Zone
While that’s obvious on a certain level, hear me out on why it’s more important compared to our past few matchups.
Everyone’s quick to point out that the Patriots have the 29th ranked defense. While that stat is accurate, it doesn’t paint an accurate picture of their defense – which, in reality, is a lot closer to league-average than the 29 rank suggests.
The Patriots have what most people describe as a “bend-don’t-break” defense. This is evidenced by their red zone efficiency ranking 4th in the league. Which as a result brings their scoring defense down to a respectable 18.5 points per game (5th in the NFL). It’s true that opposing offenses have been able to move the ball with ease against New England, but they’ve had a much harder time turning those yards into touchdowns.
The good news for the Birds is they lead the league in red-zone efficiency at 65.5%. The ability to convert inside the 20 has been a massive reason for their success all season. Matched up against a defense that – not only this year, but historically – has stifled offenses in this area, it’s fair to say that the game will be decided here.
I look at these two teams and think to myself, “what position group do the Patriots have that would be an upgrade from ours?” Outside of quarterback – the answer is none. If the Eagles can turn productive drives into seven points rather than settling for field goals they should beat a Pats team that they overmatch in most areas.