A Super Bowl 52 rematch is on the schedule for Week 2 of the 2018 NFL preseason as the Philadelphia Eagles visit the New England Patriots.
The game is scheduled for Thursday, August 16, at 7:30 PM EST at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
While the jerseys may look the same as the ones fans saw at US Bank Stadium last February, that’s about all that will remain intact.
Tom Brady will lead the Patriots’ first-team offense for a series at most before giving way to the backups. Carson Wentz won’t see the field at all, just like Week 1, as he works his way back from a knee injury that cost him the latter part of 2017 and is still threatening to keep him out of the season-opener against Atlanta.
Eagles’ Carson Wentz says decision to play Week 1 is ‘going to be close’ https://t.co/9qZE4t1KJG
— Steve Vogt (@Steve_PerfectS) August 14, 2018
For the Eagles, that means a little Nick Foles and a lot of Nate Sudfeld and Joe Callahan under center. Foles, the backup-turned-Super-Bowl-hero, is not 100% either, battling neck spasms that kept him out of Philadelphia’s Week 1 shellacking against Pittsburgh (31-14).
Sudfeld was decent in Week 1 versus the Steelers, going 10/14 for 140 yards, two touchdowns, and two picks. Callahan, on the other hand, lived up to his undrafted pedigree, gong 8/18 for just 91 yards and no touchdowns.
The Patriots will turn to backup Brian Hoyer and third-stringer Danny Etling for the vast majority of Thursday’s game. Hoyer verged on excellent in a 26-17 Week 1 win over Washington, going 16/23 for 144 yards and no picks. He didn’t find the end zone, however, as New England punched in three TDs on the ground, including two from the one-yard line and another on an eight-yard scamper from undrafted rookie Ralph Webb.
Etling was not given much of an opportunity to impress, finishing the night 2/5 for 21 yards.
Arguably the best performer on the offensive side of the ball for New England was veteran running back Jeremy Hill, who joins the team this year after several disappointing seasons in Cincinnati. The LSU product ran the ball 11 times for 51 yards (4.6 YPC) and a major, outperforming Mike Gillislee (14 carries, 43 yards; 3.1 YPC) and boosting his chances of making the roster behind first-round pick Sony Michel and the Swiss-Army-knife that is Rex Burkhead.
Michel will likely be inactive again in Week 2 after undergoing a procedure to drain fluid from his knee on Aug. 4.
Patriots’ first-round pick Sony Michel underwent a procedure to drain his knee that will sideline him at least 10 days, per @MikeReiss.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 4, 2018
The Patriot defense was torched in Week 1 while Colt McCoy was at the helm for Washington, but rebounded and pitched a shutout in the second half when Kevin Hogan checked in. Given that they are likely to see a lot of Sudfeld and Callahan on Thursday, the unit should be able to hold up a little better, on the whole.
The Eagle defense was torched by everyone Pittsburgh trotted out in Week 1, giving up 252 yards, two TDs, and a 69% completion percentage to the combination of Mason Rudolph, Josh Dobbs, and Landry Jones. Hoyer is better than all three, though he doesn’t have the weapons on the outside that the Steelers do, and with Hill and Burkhead both questionable as well, may not have much of a running game to rely on either.
All in all, expect some decent first-half play from the likes of Hoyer and Sudfeld, followed by a sloppy second half when the third and fourth teamers get their chance to shine.