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What to expect from locals in Super Bowl LII

Barry Schwartz

How should we expect KVN and Eric Rowe to perform in the big game?

In Super Bowl LII, Utah roots for the New England Patriots. Err well maybe not. At the very least, the Pats are the only team with players who have local ties. Kyle Van Noy (BYU) and Eric Rowe (Utah) play for a Pats defense tasked with stopping the Eagles attack.

First on Van Noy: He’s been a spectacular locker room addition. Since being traded from the Lions in 2017, the former BYU linebacker replaced the injured Dont’a Hightower and took over play-calling. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia trusts Van Noy with pre-snap reads (And according to KVN, Patricia is quite the sailor when calling out plays).

Nora Princiotti of the Boston Globe told Gunther & Hackett, “He’s one of these guys that when they get someone on a Wednesday like Eric Lee, this guy who they plucked off the Bills practice squad and he had to be ready to play on a Sunday, Kyle Van Noy of all people [is who they turn to]. It’s not as if he has this long Patriots tenure, but he’s turned into the one of the guys that helps those players get acclimated.”

On the field, the results haven’t translated to tremendous success. The Pats finished 31st in defensive DVOA, according to Football Outsiders. The measurement weighs later season finishes heavier than early in the year. Replacing a 2nd Team All-Pro is proving to be difficult.

As for Rowe, the nickel cornerback goes against the team that drafted him. He started seven games in the Super Bowl run last year. In 2017, he battled a groin injury, but since returning in Week 12, he’s impressed.

“He blew coverage on that huge 69-yard catch by Ju Ju Smith Schuster in Week 15. If you take that play out he’s allowed just 5.4 yards per pass since he returned in Week 12, which is the best among the Patriots cornerback,” Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders praised on Gunther & Hackett.

With Bill Belichick known for stopping the opponents favorite weapon, expect New England to focus on Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz. Safety Patrick Chung tends to cover tight ends man-to-man (Yielding the 8th ranked DVOA against TEs — h/t Football Outsiders). In this case, the former Utah standout will be relied upon in man coverage against speedy wide receivers. If Rowe continues his postseason form, Utahans will be happy on Sunday.


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