It’s finally arrived.
The week of the biggest sporting event in the United States is here. Super Bowl LII, which pits the AFC-champion New England Patriots against the NFC-champion Philadelphia Eagles, kicks off at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Along with it comes everything from a full week of non-stop hype, to Monday’s surreal Media Day, to the one time people set their DVRs so they can go back and watch the commercials instead of skipping over them.
But this week’s poll isn’t about the hoopla. This week’s poll is about the game itself.
Since this year’s Super Bowl doesn’t involve the Seattle Seahawks, I was considering having the poll be about which team people were rooting for. But given the Patriots are in this one — not only the team everyone outside of Boston is tired of seeing win year after year, but also the perpetrators of that Super Bowl XLIX theft from the Seahawks — I think the results of that poll would be obvious.
So instead we’re going to keep it about who’s winning.
New England has built a dynasty unlike anything ever seen in NFL history. The Bill Belichick/Tom Brady Patriots are in their eighth Super Bowl since 2002, having won on five of the previous seven occasions. They’re looking for their third Super Bowl championship in the past four years, including last year’s stunning comeback to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime.
In contrast, Philadelphia is in unfamiliar territory. the Eagles had losing records each of the past two seasons before breaking out this year. Philly has been to just two Super Bowls in franchise history, losing both. The last time the Eagles made the big game was in 2005 when they lost to, who else, the Patriots 24-21.
Is it any wonder that New England is a 4.5-point favorite?
But if one crunches the numbers, one finds some remarkable similarities between the teams:
- Both teams finished the season 13-3 and as the No. 1 seed in their conference.
- The teams finished 2-3 in the league in scoring during the regular season, being separated by a single point.
- The teams finished 4-5 in the league in scoring defense during the regular season, again separated by a single point.
Add in that the Eagles crushed the Minnesota Vikings 38-7 in the NFC championship game, while the Patriots needed some more late-game magic to knock off the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 in the AFC championship game, and maybe the line shouldn’t be so skewed toward New England.
But the quarterback discrepancy can’t be discounted. Brady is the best in NFL history, while Philadelphia is having to rely on back-up Nick Foles following starter Carson Wentz’s season-ending knee injury.
So who do you got in Sunday’s game? Vote here: