Going into the 2018 season, the NFL scheduled their biggest international game ever in London, as they announced that the reigning Super Bowl champion Eagles would travel to England’s capital to square off against the Jaguars, who were coming off an AFC Championship game loss. To have two of the final four teams of last year battle it out overseas was very uncommon, as most matchups abroad prior to this one seemed to either be lopsided from the start or included a rather odd pairing of teams. However, as we are on the brink of reaching the mid-season mark of this NFL season, both these teams stand at 3-4 and this Sunday’s matchup looks like anything but a potential Super Bowl preview. While there’s still plenty of games to be played after this weekend and both teams don’t have a clear favorite in their division, this game to me feels like it could decide the fortunes of Philadelphia and Jacksonville. Since I’m flying over for this matchup myself, I thought it would make sense to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of either squad and look at how they can exploit them respectively. Will the Eagles soar high in their first trip to the UK or can the Jags take advantage of what has to feel like their home-field almost, playing at Wembley for their sixth straight year now?
The Saints and Vikings faced each other in the season-opener at U.S. Bank Stadium. Minnesota never really was in trouble that day and won the game 29-19. Both team have evolved throughout the season and they are set for a rematch on Sunday. After losing their first two games of the year, New Orleans went on to win ten of their next twelve and an NFC South title, to set them up as one of the biggest contenders in the conference. The Vikings won the North with a 13-3 record and earned the number two seed, possibly giving them home-field advantage all the way through the Super Bowl. In week one their starting quarterback still was Sam Bradford and everybody thought this was the same old Saints, who air it out and play no defense. Times have changed and both teams need to be reckoned with. This should be a huge matchup and looking at both squads, I believe the final score could look a lot different this time around. Here’s why:
After having two different conferences represented in the title game for the last six years, this is the first time since 2012 the two contenders are coming from the SEC. While Georgia won the conference title, Alabama didn’t even get the chance to play in the championship game. With Kirby Smart facing off against his former head coach Nick Saban and two teams that are built similar, there’s lots to talk about. Over the next couple of paragraphs, I want to analyze the paths of both these programs heading into the matchup, how they will approach it, under-the-radar contributors and the outcome of the game. Alabama has been crowned national champions four times since 2009, while Georgia is looking to do so for the first time since 1980. It’s dynasty versus contender, teacher versus student, the Tide versus the Bulldogs.