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With the storied history of big-game wins between the Patriots’ Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, it’s easy to get fixated on New England’s quarterback/coach pair. The real key to the game, though, according to Chris Gasper, could be Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.
WBZ NewsRadio’s Adam Kaufman caught up with the Boston Globe columnist and host of the Season Ticket podcast ahead of the big game in Minneapolis to discuss Super Bowl 52 predictions.
Although, like the majority of reporters and analysts, Gasper foresees a 31-20 win in favor of the Patriots, he says the Eagles’ key to stealing a win could be Nick Foles.
“When I look at Nick Foles, I’m not sure he’s the kind of quarterback who can string together four or five drives of eight, nine, ten plays and have them end up in the end zone," Gasper said. "I think that’s what the Patriots are going to try and make him do. He’s never proven, consistently, that he can dissect a defense the way an upper-echelon quarterback can on a week-to-week basis.”
However, if Foles can rise to the occasion, Gasper said it could be enough to make him the team’s x-factor.
“If, suddenly, Foles is able to perform in a manner of an upper-echelon quarterback, and he doesn’t need all the big plays to move the ball, then Philadelphia has a real chance,” Gasper said.
If in fact, this does happen, the columnist thinks Foles could be Philadelphia’s key to opening up the field for the team’s vast array of weapons, resulting in a multi-faceted assault on the New England Patriots.
“Due to the RPOs [run-pass options], with the fact that they have a diverse offense, they have Jay Ajayi in the backfield, they have Corey Clement out of the backfield to catch to football, LeGarrette Blount can run it a little bit. Alshon Jeffery is a big physical receiver - the Patriots have had issues with that in the past. [Nelson] Agholor is a guy that can get the ball in some gadget plays – the Patriots have had issues with that in the past. Torrey Smith is a straight speed guy which, every once in a while, can get the Patriots.”
Gasper went on to say that the offensive line could be the key to unlocking Foles’ in-game potential. “If they’re able to give him all day to sit back there and allow Philadelphia to run the ball. Now, all of a sudden, the Patriots are worrying about ‘oh, my God, they’re running it on us and we can’t stop it. Now we need to step up and stop the run.’ Then, all those RPOs open up and it gets a lot easier for Foles.”
Here’s the full interview: