Super Bowl LII: Expert picks and predictions

The Vince Lombardi Trophy sits with helmets from the New England Patriots (L) and Philadelphia Eagles. (Tanner Maury/EPA)

The big day is upon us.

With the New England Patriots set to face the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII, the expert panel at Sportsnet provided their predictions for how the final game of the NFL season will play out.

The panel includes editors Geoff Lowe and Craig Battle, as well as staff writers Donnovan Bennett, Mike Johnston and Emily Sadler.

So who will hoist the Lombardi Trophy?

Donnovan Bennett
The Pick:
Philadelphia
The Score: 25–21
Super Bowl MVP: Jay Ajayi

The Breakdown: Tom Brady’s completion percentage is 26 per cent when he faces interior pressure. The Eagles front four is the best at getting after the passer in football. After completing three quarters of his passes in the playoffs — against defences better than the Patriots’ — Nick Foles has shown he’s capable of allowing the playmakers around him to dominant.

The tale of the tape says Philadelphia is better at every positional group except for QB. The way the teams are matched up, the journeyman back-up may have a bigger day then the GOAT. Get your dog masks ready.

Mike Johnston
The Pick:
New England
The Score: 30–20
Super Bowl MVP: Rob Gronkowski

The Breakdown: My 2018 Superb Owl pick is the Australian Masked Owl, a nocturnal and secretive creature… sort of like Patriots mastermind Bill Belichick. My 2018 Super Bowl pick is New England because they’ll inevitably have a few bounces and calls go their way, plus there’s no way the Eagles play a perfect game like they did against Minnesota, which is what it will take to win.

Geoff Lowe
The Pick:
Philadelphia
The Score: 24-20
Super Bowl MVP: Zach Ertz

The Breakdown: Fletcher Cox and the Eagles pass rush will cause big problems for Tom Brady, bringing the pressure from all sides. And here’s a bold prediction: Philadelphia will score on defence or special teams. But it’ll be a two-TD, 75-plus yard effort from Ertz that will put the Eagles over the top, becoming the first-ever tight end to be named Super Bowl MVP as Philadelphia win its first title since 1960.

If it's a sports story you're talking about, you can bet they'll be talking about it.

Emily Sadler
The Pick:
New England
The Score: 28–20
Super Bowl MVP: Tom Brady

The Breakdown: Following in the footsteps of the Patriots’ other post-season opponents, the Eagles get off to an early lead thanks to a solid run game and a confident Nick Foles, but not even Philadelphia’s most dangerous defenders can contain Tom Brady in the fourth quarter. Brady is roughed up, but is ultimately showered with Patriots-coloured confetti (and questions about retirement) as he raises his sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy, and the New York Giants remain the only team to beat New England in the Super Bowl.

Craig Battle
The Pick:
Philadelphia
The Score: 19–17
Super Bowl MVP: Fletcher Cox

The Breakdown: Super Bowl LII has major potential to be a low-scoring affair (the Patriots needed a late rally to hang 24 on Jacksonville; this same Eagles defence has already held Atlanta to 10 and Minnesota to seven in these playoffs; etc.), and if it is it could lean the Eagles’ way. Honestly, I’m not sure if I expect this to happen or just want it to happen, but either way: I’m predicting a game so tightly contested and field-goal-heavy that MVP goes to a defender for the 11th time in Super Bowl history.

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