Final thoughts on New England Patriots versus Philadelphia Eagles

The New England Patriots (8-1) travel to take on the Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) today in a rematch of one of the most exciting Super Bowl games ever.

Both the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles are very different teams today than they were two seasons ago.

That Patriots team that lost Super Bowl LII in epic fashion has since lost Rob Gronkowski to retirement, Danny Amendola to free agency, and David Andrews to injury, amongst of a number of other personnel changes as well. Similarly, the Eagles team that emerged victorious in Minneapolis and won its first Super Bowl title that fateful day no longer has Nick Foles, LeGarrette Blount, Trey Burton, or Torrey Smith on its current roster.

Whichever team ends up the winner on Sunday evening at Lincoln Financial Field will put a significant stamp on their chances of making the postseason this year.

Both the Eagles and the Patriots lead their respective divisions – the Pats by two games over the second-place Bills in the AFC East, and the Eagles tied with the Cowboys atop the NFC East. If Dallas falls on the road today to the Detroit Lions and Philly beats New England, the Eagles would assume sole control of the top spot.

The Patriots are also hoping to put some more distance between themselves and their competition in the AFC pecking order. It seemed early on this year that New England was going to run away with the No. 1 seed in the weaker of the two NFL conferences, but the Bills aren’t the only team keeping things interesting in the AFC these days for the defending champions.

The Baltimore Ravens are just a game behind the Patriots and now own the head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to their Sunday night victory in Week 9. In the AFC South, the Houston Texans are only two games behind the Pats. Thankfully for New England, one of these two rivals is going to end up with another ‘L’ today for sure, as the Ravens and Texans will have finished playing each other well before Patriots/Eagles even kicks off.

Philadelphia has one of the better rush defenses in the league right now, and is one of just 11 teams in the NFL that are averaging less than 100 yards rushing allowed per contest. If Sony Michel wants to break out of his season-long slump, today might be a tough day to do it.

Thankfully for Patriots fans though, there are plenty of other intriguing options on this New England offense who could have a breakout performance against this beatable Philadelphia passing defense.

The most obvious name is Julian Edelman. Edelman is following up winning his first-ever Super Bowl MVP award with a fantastic season for the Pats, having already accumulated 63 receptions for 663 yards and four touchdowns through nine games. Now in his 11th year as a pro, Edelman surprisingly has only surpassed more than 1,000 yards in a season twice in his career – back in 2013 and then again in 2016.

If he keeps up his current pace, he should hit that 1,000-mark for a third time… and could even set a new career high for himself in terms of receiving yards in a season. Edelman is currently projected to finish the year with 112 receptions for 1,178 yards and seven scores.

Newcomer Mohamed Sanu could also feast Sunday against the Eagles’ mediocre secondary.

Sanu was the bright spot on offense for the Patriots in their loss to the Ravens, finishing that game with 10 catches on 14 targets for 81 yards and just his second touchdown of the season. Sanu has shown flashes of promise since being brought over via trade from the Atlanta Falcons a week before the deadline. If his emergence continues for the Patriots, they might have one of the better one-two punches at wide receiver in the NFL.

The Eagles are down a number of key playmakers today, including Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, and Jordan Howard. The Patriots also probably figure to be down a few starters – namely Patrick Chung on defense – but overall, New England is the healthier of the two teams coming into this high-profile tilt.

While the Eagles are a good football team and will decidedly have home-field advantage tonight, the Patriots should be able to come out with a win this week. They’re a better team on paper this season than the Eagles, they’re healthier across the board, they’re well-rested, and they should be extremely motivated after their double-digit primetime loss to the Ravens.

Final score prediction: New England Patriots 27, Philadelphia Eagles 17.

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