Just hours before Super Bowl 52, rumors started to swirl that both Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick could retire after Sunday’s game in a somewhat odd report form ESPN.
The speculation started during ESPN’s “NFL Countdown” and according to Dianna Russini, “many in the league have been hearing” the Super Bowl could be final games for the coach and quarterback duo. She added, “Both could be hanging it up. Post game could be incredible tonight if this becomes truth.”
David Steele: The Jaguars, ranked at or near the top of every regular-season defensive category, couldn’t keep it up when it counted in the AFC championship game; neither could the Falcons in last year’s Super Bowl.
Yet this Eagles defense, fresh off of a lockdown of the Vikings in the NFC title game, has what it takes to finish the job. More important, the Eagles offense, Nick Foles and all, can handle the hard work of keeping Brady off the field, exploiting the Patriots’ defense, holding and maintaining a lead, and keeping a foot on the Patriots’ throats. The Patriots are historically great, but they’re not infallible, and this will be proof. Eagles 26, Patriots 24.
But the Pats didn’t get to their third Super Bowl in four seasons by luck, and they’ll utilize their strengths: a defense that has 11 postseason sacks, four more than second-place Jacksonville, and Brady, who has an NFL-leading five touchdowns this postseason. The Eagles may jump out to a lead, but pressure from the Patriots and another terrific performance from Brady gives New England yet another Lombardi Trophy. Patriots 28, Eagles 24.
Bill Bender: If the Eagles can get off the field on third down, then they’ll have a chance. Philadelphia had the third best third-down defense in the NFL this season, and it allowed just 10 of 26 conversions in two playoff games. But this is Brady.
Look for the Patriots to come out aggressive this time and build a lead to put the pressure on Foles. It could be just as tight as the last time these teams met in the Super Bowl, but it will come with an almost identical result. Patriots 30, Eagles 24.