The matchup for Super Bowl LII is set. The 13-3 New England Patriots will be facing the 13-3 Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis, Minnesota in two weeks.
- This is a matchup of the two #1 seeds, which is starting to become a thing again. The 1993 Bills/Cowboys was the last matchup of #1 seeds in the Super Bowl for a long time, until the 2009 Colts/Saints game. From ’94 to ’12, that was the only matchup of #1 seeds in the Super Bowl, but since then, it happened in 2013 (Seahawks over Broncos), 2014 (Patriots over Seahawks), 2015 (Broncos over Panthers) and now 2017.
- For the 8th time, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots are going to the Super Bowl. Remarkably, Brady has made the Super Bowl in half of his 16 seasons as the Patriots starting quarterback. He will, of course, extend his own record by playing in his eighth Super Bowl: no player has made seven, while Mike Lodish and Don Beebe each made six (Lodish played in all six; Beebe played in three).
Brady has made the Super Bowl in half of his seasons as a starter; the other seasons haven’t been so bad, either:
This is Belichick’s 11th Super Bowl: he was 2-0 as the Giants DC, 0-1 as the Patriots Assistant Head Coach, and 5-2 as the Patriots head coach. Belichick has five Super Bowl rings, tying him with Vince Lombardi. But with a win in Super Bowl LII, Belichick will move up the coaching ranks and tie George Halas and Curly Lambeau for most NFL titles (each won six) won by a head coach. Paul Brown won 7 championships, although only three NFL titles (the remaining four were in the AAFC). Lambeau won three straight titles from ’29 to ’31 before the NFL had playoff games; after, he went 3-1 in championship games (winning in 36, ’39, and ’44). Halas won a title in ’21, was the owner but not the coach when the team won in ’32, and then won title games as head coach in ’33, ’40, ’41, ’46, and ’63. He was not the coach when the team won in’43, and lost title games in ’34 and ’37.
- The Patriots won 3 out of 4 Super Bowls from 2001 to 2004, beating the NFC West champion, missing the Super Bowl, beating the NFC South champion, and then beating an Eagles team whose best player suffered a serious leg injury. New England didn’t win any Super Bowls from 2005 to 2013. But with a win in Super Bowl LII, the Patriots will have won 3 out of 4 Super Bowls since, beating the NFC West champion, missing the Super Bowl, beating the NFC South champion, and then beating an Eagles team whose best player suffered a serious leg injury. Oh, and after each mini-dynasty, the Patriots lost their offensive coordinator and defensive coordinators.
- Nick Foles started just three games during the regular season, giving him the third fewest starts by a quarterback who started a Super Bowl. The Foles/Carson Wentz situation certainly resembles the Phil Simms/Jeff Hostetler situation from 1990, and even has a Belichick tie-in. Hostetler started two games in 1990 before leading the Giants to a Super Bowl. Three years earlier, Doug Williams started two games — winning zero — in the regular season before leading the Redskins to a championship.
- The Eagles are going to be underdogs for their third straight playoff game. The 1980 Raiders and 2007 Giants are the only teams to win four games as underdogs in one postseason, with the ’85 Patriots, ’11 Giants, and ’12 Ravens being the only teams to win exactly three games as underdogs.
- Tom Brady is going to win his 3rd Super Bowl in 4 years… or LeGarrette Blount will. After being a member of the Patriots for the last three years, Blount is now on the Eagles. Blount (and teammate Chris Long) would join an exclusive club if he managed to win back-to-back Super Bowls with different teams.
- What’s the experience disadvantage at quarterback? Nick Foles has thrown 66 touchdowns in his career, regular and postseason combined. Brady has thrown 68 touchdown passes just in the postseason. Nick Foles has been in the league for six years; Brady is looking to win his sixth Super Bowl.
- Irving Fryar, Asante Samuel, and Harold Jackson are the only players who produced over 20 points of AV with both New England and Philadelphia. Center Guy Morriss was on the ’80 Eagles and ’85 Patriots teams that lost Super Bowls, while linebacker Steve Zabel started over 40 games for both teams and was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
- The Patriots have opened as 5.5-point favorites. If that holds, it would mean that in 10 Super Bowl appearances, New England has been favored by, in the aggregate… zero points. New England was 14-point dogs to the Packers and Rams and a 10-point underdog to the ’85 Bears (total of +38). The Patriots/Seahawks game was a pick ’em, the Patriots were favored by 3 against the Falcons and the Giants II, by 5.5 against the Eagles II, by 7 against the Eagles I and the Panthers, by 12.5 against the Giants I (total of -38).
- Oh, but there’s no justification for that line holding at 5.5 points. The Eagles were 3-point underdogs at home to the Falcons two weeks ago. Are we supposed to believe some combination of Atlanta being better than New England and the Eagles getting better since then? I would have set this line at Patriots -8.5.
- This is a “rematch” in name only. Brady is the only Patriot still on the roster from 2004, and there are no Eagles from 2004 still on the team. Brady joins Joe Montana as the only QBs to start two Super Bowls against the same franchise with different quarterbacks (Montana’s 49ers faced the Bengals with Ken Anderson in 1981 and then Boomer Esiason in 1988).
- Nick Foles just joined Matt Ryan, Kurt Warner, Montana, Dan Marino, and Bart Starr as the only QBs to post a 130+ passer rating on 25+ passes in a conference championship game in the Super Bowl era.
Please leave any thoughts you have on Super Bowl LII in the comments.