No surprises here. Super Bowl LII will feature the number one seeds from both the AFC and NFC, as the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles each won their respective conference championships on Sunday.
The Patriots defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 while the Eagles demolished the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, making it the fourth time in the last five years that the top seeds from each conference will meet in the Super Bowl.
Each team finished the regular season with a 13-3 record, led by quarterbacks putting up MVP-caliber seasons. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady continues to perform at the highest level, right at the top of the MVP conversation, even at the age of 40, and Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was putting together an MVP-caliber season, but he tore his ACL in Week 14 and was replaced by Nick Foles.
In the latter of the two games on Sunday, Philadelphia showed a dominant display on both sides of the ball. Foles played brilliantly, passing for 352 yards and three touchdowns against the NFL’s best defense, a welcoming sight to Eagles fans who have worried about the quarterback position without Wentz.
The Eagles’ defense has been stout all season—they possess the top-ranked rushing defense—and shut the Vikings down after the opening drive, forcing three turnovers, including a pick six, on their way to an easy victory.
The Patriots had more trouble with the Jaguars, but they prevailed in a tight 24-20 come-from-behind win. The Patriots struggled for much of the game, with the Jaguars controlling the time of possession and pressuring Brady, and then the Patriots lost their top receiving threat Rob Gronkowski to a concussion late in the second quarter. They trailed by 20-10 in the fourth quarter before Tom Brady worked his magic as he so often does, engineering two drives that ended with touchdown passes to Danny Amendola, the second giving them the lead for good with 2:48 left.
It is hard to be surprised when Brady leads a Patriots comeback, even as he deals with an injury in which he received stitches on his throwing hand this past week.
The Patriots look to defend their title from last year. They head to the Super Bowl for the eighth time since 2001, during the Brady-Belichick era, and the duo seeks their sixth title together. For Brady, this would give him the most Super Bowl wins of any player in NFL history, thus adding to his legacy.
Meanwhile, the Eagles return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2005 when they lost 24-21 to Brady and the Patriots. They hope to win their first Super Bowl behind a tenacious defense and a backup quarterback, albeit a very qualified one who was an MVP candidate himself back in 2013.
The Eagles played a terrific game against the Vikings and they possess the type of defense that could pressure Brady. Also, their balanced offensive attack could expose the defensive weaknesses of New England, a much weaker defense than that of Minnesota. They have battled adversity and lost several key starters, yet they continue to win.
However, betting against Brady and Belichick is never a good idea, and two weeks off will help the Patriots because Brady and Gronkowski will have more time to recover from their injuries.
The Eagles opened as 5.5–point underdogs for the Super Bowl, making them the biggest underdogs in a Super Bowl since 2009.
Super Bowl LII will be played in Minneapolis on Feb. 4 at 3:30 p.m., and the game will be televised on NBC.
Prediction: History does not repeat itself, 27-20 Eagles