While some of the NFL’s best players have already ended their season with a cameo appearance in last week’s Pro Bowl, there are still some elite names in Super Bowl LII who will be looking to make a major impact for their respective teams to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
If the Patriots win, Tom Brady will be the first player in NFL history to win six Super Bowls and will become the oldest quarterback to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at 40 years of age. He’s proved his critics wrong time and time again, so why would this time be any different?
But Brady isn’t the only big name to watch on Super Bowl Sunday.
Key players for Patriots
Rob Gronkowski, Tight end
When healthy, Rob Gronkowski is, without a doubt, the most dominant tight end in football. He may even be the most dominant offensive player in the NFL.
But that has always been Gronkowski’s achilles heel - injuries. And this game is no different. After he was knocked out of the AFC Championship game with a concussion, there are some question marks surrounding Gronkowski's availability for this weekend’s game.
Rob Gronkowski said “hopefully by tomorrow” he’s out of concussion protocol. Will he play in #SB52? “Yes.”— Kimberly Jones (@KimJonesSports) January 31, 2018
It’s been reported that if the Super Bowl took place this past Sunday, Gronkowski would not have been able to play. Now that we’re less than four days away from the big game, it’s still not 100 percent certain how healthy Gronkowski is.
Even at 50 percent, Gronkowski is still a Top 5 player at his position. After all, he’s a matchup nightmare for opposing defensive backs and linebackers because he’s either A) Too strong and too big for secondary defenders or B) He’s too fast for linebackers to cover.
The Patriots have showed that they don’t need Gronkowski to win, but it’s sure a lot easier to do so when he’s full systems go.
Tom Brady, Quarterback
Brady, the aforementioned ageless wonder, is playing in his eighth Super Bowl. Isn’t that something?
If there were any doubts regarding Brady’s ability to play into his 40s, they were eradicated after he led the NFL in passing yards during the regular season. He’s playing better than ever and shows no signs of slowing down.
Tom Brady still wants to play into his mid-40s.— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) January 31, 2018
But this Sunday, he’s facing an unforgiving Eagles defense that has bottled up its opposition throughout the postseason, holding the likes of the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings to 15 and seven points, respectively.
For all the hype surrounding a Brady vs. Nick Foles showdown, the reality is that Brady has to deal with a high-flying Eagles defensive unit that packs a serious punch in the trenches and in the secondary.
Nevertheless, it’s foolish to doubt Brady at any point during a game. Remember what he did a year ago when the Patriots trailed 28-3 to the Falcons? Be careful before you announce that Brady is washed up at any point during Sunday’s game - he might just make you eat your words.
Key players for Eagles
It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way for the Eagles.
The No. 1 seed in the NFC wasn’t supposed to be an underdog in every playoff game, and even after defeating the Falcons and Vikings to get to the Super Bowl, they remain underdogs against the Patriots.
Why? Because the outside public doesn’t believe in Nick Foles.
The Eagles fans, players and Patriots haters believe that Foles can get the job done on Sunday, as long as Philadelphia’s defense shows up to play. Given his performance in the NFC Championship game (352 passing yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions) one would think that Foles would get more respect.
This is the same player who was a Pro Bowler just a few years ago. This is the same player who threw seven (yes, seven) touchdowns in a single game. He’s also the same player that took over for an injured Carson Wentz, rallied an entire franchise and led them to playoff glory. Foles has been overlooked for much of his career, so it’s not surprising to see him being labeled as an underdog again.
Should Nick Foles lead the Eagles to a victory in @SuperBowl LII, he would become the first quarterback to begin the season as a backup and then lead his team to a Lombardi Trophy since...— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) February 1, 2018
His Super Bowl LII counterpart, Tom Brady (in 2001).#Eagles #Patriots #SuperBowl
But don’t be shocked if he lights up a Patriots defense that allowed Blake Bortles and the Jaguars offense to move the ball downfield with relative ease in the AFC Championship game.
For the casual NFL fan, the name Patrick Robinson might not ring a bell. But if he has another big game against the Patriots, he might soon become a household name.
If you were paying attention to the Eagles at all this season, you would understand how valuable Robinson is to Philadelphia's secondary.
But even if you haven’t paid much attention during the regular season, you don’t have to look far to see his impact on the field.
Patrick Robinson is having a career year! ?? pic.twitter.com/1feSVH7KSa— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 28, 2018
Against the Vikings in the NFC Championship game, Robinson came up big for his team with a 50-yard pick-six on Case Keenum, sending the Philadelphia fanbase into a frenzy.
Names like Fletcher Cox and Chris Long may sound a little more familiar to the average fan, but pay close attention to Robinson on Sunday. He might just be the reason that Eagles win it all.
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