So says Pro Football Focus:
This Eagles team has been the best team in the league all year at generating pressure. They led the league with 271 pressures over the regular season, 27 more than the next-best team. They generated that pressure at a greater rate than anyone else, hurrying the opposing quarterback on average 41 percent of his dropbacks – right around that threshold for slowing Brady.
What’s critical, is that they did this typically without blitzing. The Eagles had the 10th-lowest blitz rate in the league, but they generated pressure on 38 percent of their rushes featuring no blitz – again, the highest rate in the league.
And why the Eagles might succeed where the Falcons came so close, is that Philadelphia’s defensive front is much deeper. They had seven players this season top 20 total pressures, which is one more than any other team in the league. While the Falcons’ pass-rush relied on a couple of stand out performers, the Eagles far more closely resemble those Giants’ defenses that could run four or more players deep along the defensive line when it comes to generating pressure.
The Eagles are as well-equipped as anybody to slow Tom Brady and the Patriots offense down in the only way that has been repeatably successful over the years, but there is of course one caveat to that – it still may not be enough.
Brady is just that good that he might beat that game plan anyway. He led the NFL this season in passer rating under pressure at 96.6. That’s almost 10.0 points higher than the average passer rating across all quarterbacks on all plays this year. Put another way, Brady under pressure this year had a passer rate 10.0 points higher than the average quarterback did on any given down, so as much as pressure is important, it’s really the volume of it and how decisive that pressure is – and the cumulative effect it could take over a game – that is more important.
How effectively the Eagles are able to replicate that Giants’ game plan is going to determine whether they can keep Brady and that Patriots offense quiet enough to give themselves a chance.