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The Sneaky Important Players of Super Bowl LII

The Sneaky Important Players of Super Bowl LII

Estimated Reading Time: 2 Minutes

No need for pleasantries here. You know the match up already. And you have heard all the chatter leading up to the Super Bowl: Can the Eagles get after Brady? Will Gronk be 100%? Is Foles able to make enough plays for Philly to win?

But, obviously, there’s much more to it than that. The game will be decided by more guys than just Brady, Foles, Gronk, and Fletcher Cox. So here’s two players, one from each team, that may prove to be more important than you think come Sunday night.

Philadelphia Eagles RB Corey Clement

Some people may wonder (with the duo of Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount in the backfield for the Eagles) how there is room for Clement to fill a need. I think his chances to shine lie in catching passes on third down. If used correctly, Clement could have a field day helping the Eagles move the chains.

Take the AFC Championship game as an example. The Jaguars utilized pass-catching back Corey Grant to pick up big chunks of yards in the first half, as he hauled in three catches for 59 yards. The Patriots did not have enough speed at the linebacker position to cover running backs out of the backfield on pass routes (and still don’t), and Grant made them pay on several occasions. Any coincidence that the Jags offense started to stall around the same time they gave up on throwing to their backs? Corey Clement has a speed factor that Ajayi, and certainly Blount, tend to lack. I see Clement becoming a valuable option for Nick Foles to keep the chains moving and the offense churning, especially against a linebacking corps that struggles in coverage.

New England Patriots WR Chris Hogan

As far as the Patriots passing attack goes, the middle of the field is where their bread is buttered. Whether it’s to Gronk or Amendola, their preference is to strike between the hashmarks. But, this scheme becomes easier to defend if the Patriots aren’t able to have a semblance of an outside or deep WR option. Since Brandin Cooks will likely garner Philly’s top CB assignment, I think Hogan has a chance to shine in this game. A league-leader in yards per reception a season ago, I see Chris Hogan coming up big for Tom Brady on Sunday. And not necessarily a Deion Branch-esque 11 catches/100 yards kind of Super Bowl performance, but rather one or two big catches deep down the field. Maybe a toe-dragger on the sidelines in crunch time. If Hogan can get his coverage to respect the deep ball, things should stay open over the middle for Amdendola and Gronk to have their way.

Ryan Kelly lives in Cambridge, MA, a stone's throw away from his beloved Boston teams. When he is not working as an editorial assistant, he is providing commentary on the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins for The Turf.

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