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Which Receivers Will Step Up For The Eagles And Patriots On Super Bowl Sunday?

Which team has the edge at receiver going into Super Bowl 52?

The Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots’ wide receiving corps have both been phenomenal throughout this season and are big reasons each team has made it all the way to Super Bowl 52. 

Look no further than Championship weekend for evidence of this when Danny Amendola put together what was most likely the best game of his career. He finished the game with seven catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including the game-winner with only 2:48 remaining on the clock. 

During their 38-7 NFC Championship beat down of the Minnesota Vikings, the Eagles had multiple receivers play very well. Nick Foles threw for over 350 yards, which led to Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and Nelson Agholor all finishing the game with 50 or more receiving yards and combining for three touchdown receptions. 

Both teams clearly have versatile weapons out wide, but which players are going to step up in this weekend’s game? Because we are only talking about receivers and tight ends split out wide, I’m going to eliminate running backs from this analysis when looking into the numbers. 

The easiest way to evaluate which team’s receivers will flourish this weekend is simply by looking at their production. Like their performance in the NFC Championship, the Eagles’ receiving stats were very spread out this year. They didn’t have a single player finish with over 900 yards receiving, but they did have three (Ertz, Jeffery, Agholor) finish with over 700

Throw it to Alshon! #SBLII

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 30, 2018

Without their MVP candidate Carson Wentz leading them into the postseason, the receivers for Philadelphia knew they needed to step up to help make Nick Foles’ job easier. They definitely did just that, as they haven’t posted a single drop as a group thus far in the playoffs. Additionally, Jeffery has been the single most efficient wide receiver when targeted among players in this year’s postseason.

During the regular season both teams fared above average in drops. They tied for 12th best in the league with only 19 drops. However, if we eliminate the drops from running backs, the Eagles take the edge in this category with only 14 drops compared to the Patriots’ 15.

Like Philadelphia, New England also had a very spread out passing game during the regular season. Not only did they have three receivers finish with over 650 yards (Danny Amendola), they also had two (Brandin Cooks and Rob Gronkowski) finish with over 1000. Then there’s Chris Hogan, who is another important piece of the Patriots’ pass catching core, but he missed seven games this season so he only had 439 yards on the year. 

Danny Amendola has been the most sure-handed WR in the playoffs!

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 20, 2018

The Patriots’ receivers continued their stellar play from the regular season in their two playoff games. Amendola has the most receptions of any player in the playoffs without a drop. And again it cannot be said enough how big a role he played in the AFC Championship game against Jacksonville, especially considering Gronkowski missed the entire second half with a concussion. Cooks pitched in too in that game, where he had 100 yards receiving on six catches. 

Football Outsiders ranked every wide receiver during the regular season according to DYAR, which is short for defense-adjusted yards above replacement. They said this stat “gives the value of the performance on plays where this WR caught the ball, compared to replacement level, adjusted for situation and opponent and then translated into yardage.” 

New England had three of the top five finishers among these two teams, including 13th (Cooks), 34th (Amendola), and 52nd (Hogan). The Eagles’ highest finisher in this statistic was Agholor, who finished slightly ahead of Amendola at 32nd. Jeffery ranked 43rd on this list. 

Football Outsiders also ranked every tight end by the same metric. The results of this one isn’t shocking at all. They have Gronkowski ranked as the best tight end in the league, with Ertz not too far behind at fifth. 

Rob Gronkowski may be the single most unstoppable force in football”

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 21, 2018

Gronkowski will likely be shadowed by a variety of defenders, but Malcom Jenkins will most likely be the primary defender. The attention on Gronkowshi will help open the field up for Amendola on underneath routes. One can expect another solid output from Amendola, as well as a few deep shots to Cooks or Hogan, which if completed can blow the game wide open for New England.

The Eagles will continue to have an evenly distributed attack. New England will try to limit their leading receiver Ertz and will have Stephon Gilmore cover Jeffery, which should open up the game for Agholor. Philadelphia will need multiple receivers to play well to continue to support Foles. 

These teams aren’t too far apart, and it will be very interesting to see who steps up this weekend.

Edited by Jazmyn Brown.

Who led the league in drops for the 2017 season?
Created 1/30/18
  1. Jimmy Graham
  2. Julio Jones
  3. Dez Bryant
  4. Marqise Lee

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