Home » NFL Picks » Cox, Graham Hold Key For Eagles’ Super Bowl Chances

Cox, Graham Hold Key For Eagles’ Super Bowl Chances

January 31, 2018

The Philadelphia Eagles have the opportunity to win their first Vince Lombardi trophy when they face off against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

Doug Pederson’s men won 13 regular season matches, using their dynamic offense led by Carson Wentz to secure the number one seed in the NFC Conference.

Wentz’s season-ending injury could have knocked the Eagles off course. However, Nick Foles provided a safe option against the Atlanta Falcons to put enough points on the board to guide his team through the Divisional Round.

Foles put on a clinic to defeat the Minnesota Vikings to put Philadelphia through to the Super Bowl.

The story of the two quarterbacks has been the storyline ahead of the match. However, the Eagles’ defense holds the key to their success to defeating Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Philadelphia’s defense was ranked fourth overall in the NFL, giving up just 306.5 yards per game during the regular campaign. The unit allowed 18.4 points per match and a similar performance could secure the crown come Sunday night.

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has a plethora of pass-rushers to throw at Brady and his offensive line. Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham will be the key men, aiming to emulate the two New York Giants’ teams that have been the only side to knock off Brady on the biggest stage.

We’ll now break down the two players and the other vital figure for the Eagles at US Bank Stadium.

Fletcher Cox

Cox holds the key for the Eagles
Credit: Getty Images

Cox has been one of the most dominant defensive lineman in the NFL since entering the league in 2012. The Eagles selected Cox in the first round of the NFL Draft with the 12th overall selection. He has lived up to expectations, and has been one of the driving forces behind their surge for the Super Bowl. The 27-year-old has been named to the Pro Bowl for the last three years on the bounce. However, this term he earned the recognition of the All-Pro team – high praise for a position stocked with quality players.

His ability to provide pressure up the middle of the line will be crucial for the Eagles. The defensive tackle notched 5.5 sacks over the course of the 2017 season, while he has one to his name in the playoffs. Cox does not boast the statistics of the likes of JJ Watt or even Calais Campbell. The attention he draws from the offensive line opens up space for others to make plays around him. The 27-year-old will have a favourable matchup against the undersized David Andrew at the center position. Should Cox dominate as expected and force Brady off his spot in the pocket – it could be enough to turn the match in the favour of Philadelphia.

If the Eagles allow Brady time – the 40-year-old will dissect them with ease. Cox’s production slowed towards the end of the season. He cannot afford a poor performance on the biggest stage. Back him at odds of +250  with BetOnline to register over 0.5 sacks in the Super Bowl.

Brandon Graham

Cox will provide the pressure in the middle of the line. Graham will be looking to burst past Brady’s protectors on the outside. The 29-year-old shares an alma mater with the Patriots quarterback, with both players having attended Michigan. However, there will be no sentiment between the two wolverines when battle commences on Sunday.

The defensive end has blossomed into an imposing pass-rusher over the past four seasons after a stuttering start to his career.  Philadelphia showed patience with him after selecting Graham in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He notched only 11.5 sacks in his opening four seasons., but began to emerge in the 2014 campaign and has not looked back since.

Graham has been the dominant figure on the edge for the Eagles this term, leading them in sacks with 9.5 on the term. Graham is not only a danger to quarterbacks as he is also stout in the run game, helping the Eagles boast the best rush defense in the NFL. The 29-year-old will not only be important in getting after Brady in the pocket, but also containing the potent run game led by Dion Lewis.

He will face an interesting battle with the Patriots’ offensive tackles. Nate Solder has been solid in the playoffs, but Bill Belichick’s men are vulnerable without Marcus Cannon on the other flank. Graham and his team-mate may exploit Cameron Fleming with their continuous rush. Back them to record over 2.5 sacks at 1/1  and to record the most sacks in the game at -125  with Bovada.

Malcolm Jenkins

Jenkins has had success against Brady before

Jenkins is one of the few Eagles’ players with experience of playing on the grand stage. The 30-year-old was part of the New Orleans Saints’ side that defeated Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in the 2009 campaign. The defensive back has come a long way since then and is the heartbeat of Philadelphia’s secondary.

His presence and knowledge will be vital in mastering the quality and pressure Brady will put on the Eagles on Sunday. Jenkins has had success against the future Hall of Fame quarterback. He reeled off a 99-yard interception for a touchdown against New England in their win at Gillette Stadium in 2015.

The chess match will be intriguing as well who Jenkins will be covering. As a safety he could draw the unenviable task of facing off against Rob Gronkowski. The 30-year-old will be giving up a huge size disadvantage in that matchup, although his savvy could hand him an edge that a player such as Rodney McLeod would not be able to utilise.

Jenkins may also drop into the slot to face Danny Amendola. The wideout is such an important player to the rhythm of New England’s offense it could behove Schwartz to hand his best cover man that assignment. Jenkins had five tackles in the Saints’ triumph in 2009 – back him to have over that mark at -130  with Bovada. Also take him to edge out Kyle van Noy for more tackles and assists at -115 .

Tips Summary

Fletcher Cox To Record Over .5 Sacks Super Bowl LII
Sunday 4th February 2018 18:30 ET (23:30 GMT)
Odds: +250

Philadelphia Eagles To Have Over 2.5 Sacks Super Bowl LII
Sunday 4th February 2018 18:30 ET (23:30 GMT)
Odds: 1/1

Philadelphia Eagles To Record Most Team Sacks Super Bowl LII
Sunday 4th February 2018 18:30 ET (23:30 GMT)
Odds: -125

Malcolm Jenkins To Record Over Five Tackles Super Bowl LII
Sunday 4th February 2018 18:30 ET (23:30 GMT)
Odds: -130

Malcolm Jenkins To Record More Tackles + Assists Than Kyle Van Noy Super Bowl LII
Sunday 4th February 2018 18:30 ET (23:30 GMT)
Odds: -115

  • Brandon Graham
  • Fletcher Cox
  • Malcolm Jenkins
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Super Bowl

    About the author

    Eric Roberts
    Eric Roberts

    Sports Journalist

    Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.