For only the second time in their 10 trips to the Super Bowl, the New England Patriots will meet an opponent whom they have faced before in the battle for the Lombardi Trophy.
The Philadelphia Eagles handled the Minnesota Vikings with ease in the NFC Championship game Sunday night, a 38-7 blowout that had very little of the intrigue and theater that the Patriots had in their dramatic, 24-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC title game.
Coincidentally, the Patriots played the Eagles in a Super Bowl 13 years ago located in Jacksonville, Fla.
Now, it’s onto Minnesota for Super Bowl LII in less than a fortnight. There will, indeed, be no home team in the Super Bowl.
Oh, so close though. Until Sunday night’s debacle.
Poor Minneapolis. Just when it thought it might make hometown history, the city is instead treated to visitors from Philly and New England, sites of two of the most boisterous, obnoxious fans in the NFL.
This might not have been the matchup many expected when standout second-year quarterback Carson Wentz went down for the season in December, but Nick Foles looked like anything but an inadequate replacement Sunday night, throwing for more than 350 yards and three touchdowns against one of the league’s best defenses. Old New England friend LeGarrette Blount scored a touchdown as well, and is headed to his second-straight Super Bowl with a different team, a fate that also brings former Patriot Chris Long to Minnesota.
The Patriots are shooting for their sixth Super Bowl against a ferocious defense and an offense that has been opportune even in the absence of Wentz. The Eagles’ home turf likely played a factor in dominating Minnesota, but Eagles fans will assuredly travel well to Minnesota just like they did to Jacksonville all those years ago.
It was in that game when Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel shared a postgame hug after winning their third — and final — title together. It may be the same fate that is in store for Belichick, Josh McDaniels, and Matt Patricia, with the pair of coordinators seemingly headed to head coaching gigs in Indianapolis and Detroit, respectively.
That will be one of the many parallels that will be covered in the two weeks leading up to Feb. 4. Also expect plenty of talk about Brady’s injured hand, the relationships among Brady, Belichick, and team owner Robert Kraft, the quarterback’s age (he’s 40), and whether or not Rob Gronkowski, who exited Sunday’s game after a blow to the head, will be in tune enough to play against the Eagles.
New England and Philadelphia are back in the Super Bowl together. There last time they met in this situation, it was the Patriots’ third Lombardi Trophy in four years, sealing their dynasty.
This time, the Patriots are six-point favorites for No. 6, and what would be, again, the third title in four seasons.
This should be a fun repeat.