Super Bowl LII is set to be a thrilling and intriguing matchup, with a feisty Philadelphia Eagles team taking on the New England Patriots dynasty. As is the case with every Super Bowl, the game will likely come down to a handful of players making special plays precisely when it matters most — and in turn, impacting the entire course of the game. With that said, these five players could be set to have significant impact on the biggest football game in America.
Kyle Van Noy
A former Detroit Lions afterthought, Kyle Van Noy has been a revelation for the Patriots this season. As the team’s third leading tackler, Van Noy has been solid in run defense, but his real value lies in his pass-rushing talent. With 5.5 sacks on the season, and an ability to effect plays even when he doesn’t come away with sacks, Van Noy one of the most underrated players on New England’s defense.
Two great rushes on this sack for the #Patriots. First, a viscous blitz by Kyle Van Noy who blows up the RB. Second, Harrison on the edge with a vet move getting his hands inside Robinson’s and slingshotting himself around him with Cam’s arm. Never seen that one before. pic.twitter.com/o4ROeVoKK0
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) January 25, 2018
After long-time starting left tackle Jason Peters went down for the season, the Eagles looked to Halapoulivaati Vaitai to fill in for the former Pro Bowler. Early on in the season, Vaitai looked overwhelmed, but as the weeks have gone on, Vaitai has looked more and more comfortable. With a matchup against New England’s best pass-rusher in Trey Flowers, Vaitai needs to continue playing well on the sports biggest stage if the passing game has any chance to succeed.
Jason Peters season-ending injury is bad news for Carson Wentz. Halapoulivaati Vaitai is still #bad in pass pro. Slow kick-slide and lack of balance lead to him being overpowered by Shane Ray here: pic.twitter.com/R68ZtoDEEi
— Joe Paeno (@Paeno) November 11, 2017
In the AFC Championship game, Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore made arguably the best play of his career with his pass breakup of Blake Bortles on the Jaguars final down. That play encapsulates Gilmore’s entire career to this point: at times he looks like one of the NFL’s elite players at the position, and other times he’s getting beat with such regularity it’s hard to believe he’s a starter. New England needs the good version of Gilmore on the field if they hope to slow down a deep Philadelphia receiving corps.
Stephon Gilmore made one heck of a play. DB clinic. pic.twitter.com/V5z2a5v3ew
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) January 21, 2018
In the midst of his best professional season, Agholor has been dynamic as the Eagles slot receiver the entire season. If he’s healthy, Agholor has proven himself as a key component of the Eagles offense. The problem however, lies in his health. It was reported Saturday that Agholor was dealing with flu-like symptoms and though he is expected to play, it’s worth keeping an eye on as Philadelphia needs the young receiver to be productive.
If you’re looking for an under the radar X-Factor in Super Bowl 52 for the #Eagles offense it’s Nelson Agholor. They like to throw a lot of passes behind the line of scrimmage to Agholor who can flat out fly. #Patriots defense has gotten beat all year by these types of plays. pic.twitter.com/ecIfA3dsCU
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) January 23, 2018
Often viewed as the weak link in an otherwise formidable Eagles secondary, Jalen Mills is facing the most important game of his career. Tom Brady is one of the league’s best at taking advantage of corners that tend to be too aggressive and Mills needs to make sure he’s not biting on every play-action fake to avoid getting burned by the Patriots receivers. Mills is still young enough at just 23 years old to be viewed as a building block for the future, but it starts with a good showing on Sunday.
Shot 10 – A lot went in to the #Eagles final play on defense, a critical fourth down stop that ended the #Falcons season. Great job by Jalen Mills, both safeties, Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks on this play! #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/IWQc1zPZaL
— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) January 15, 2018