Super Bowl LII is upon us and with it comes the last Sportsnaut Pick’em of the season. Yours truly has already clinched the top spot — in fact, all of the standings are locked in. Here are our experts’ picks for Sunday.
Michael Dixon: Eagles +4.5
If this turns into a battle of Tom Brady vs. Nick Foles, New England will blow Philadelphia out. If, however, the Eagles’ defensive line can get into Brady’s face, this figures to be like every other Super Bowl that the Brady/Bill Belichick Pats have been in, which is to say it will be decided in the final minutes. I trust the Eagles’ defensive front and more importantly, I don’t trust the New England O-Line. Ultimately, I suspect that Brady will figure a way to keep the Eagles off balance for long enough to pull the win off (much like he did in the AFC Championship Game), but this feels like a three-point game.
Rachel Wold: Eagles +4.5
The Patriots will find a way to win but will not cover the spread. I think this game could boil down to a field goal. Philadelphia’s pass rush will be quick to the draw and will push Tom Brady into a corner more than once. I see Nick Foles continuing with his brilliant passing game against a Patriots’ defense much more giving than that of the Vikings he most recently destroyed. And, LeGarrette Blount will be relentless against his former team. That said, there should be no beating the force of Brady, Gronk, Amendola, Cooks and those lightning fast Patriots running backs — especially if they have to claw their way from behind at the start of the second half.
David Kenyon: Eagles +4.5
Jesse Reed: Eagles +4.5
Vincent Frank: Eagles +4.5
The Philadelphia Eagles may enter this game as big underdogs. But that’s nothing new for a team that lost its MVP-caliber quarterback late in the regular season, only to replace him with a player in Nick Foles who was an afterthought prior to the season. There’s something to say about working your tail off to get to the pinnacle. And based on simply the quarterback position, Philadelphia had to work harder here than Tom Brady and Co. It’s also important to note that New England does tend to play down to the level of its competition in the Super Bowl. See the two New York Giants games as an example.
From an on-field standpoint, games have been won in the trenches a lot longer than quarterbacks have played huge roles in determining the championship. Philadelphia has a huge advantage in terms of both the offensive and defensive lines. That’s going to play a role here. It’s in this that I pick the Eagles to win straight up, 27-23.
Ethan Sears: Patriots -4.5
Somewhere along the way, it became contrarian to take Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in the Super Bowl. That is patently absurd. It’s fun to think Nick Foles and the Eagles can win a Super Bowl, but come on. Yes, the Eagles can pressure Brady from the interior. Guess what? So could the Jaguars.
New England is a flatly better team everywhere except along the lines. The Patriots are better coached. They have the better quarterback (and it’s not particularly close). Foles has played one good game and the entire world seemingly forgot not only that he was putrid during the regular season, but he also was also barely competent against the Falcons in the Divisional Round. I’m open to the idea of this game being close — mostly because New England has a historical tendency to play close Super Bowls — but that’s not enough to stop me from seeing the Patriots are just better.
Ethan Sears: 137-115-14
Vincent Frank: 135-117-14
Michael Dixon: 129-123-14
Jesse Reed: 127-125-14
Rachel Wold: 118-134-14
David Kenyon: 112-140-14