Super Bowl 2018 Kickoff Time: When and Where to Watch Eagles vs. PatriotsJanuary 29, 2018
Super Bowl LII pits a perennial championship favorite against a team that has embraced the underdog role.
The New England Patriots, who have won five Super Bowls during the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era, are taking on the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl for the second time.
New England won the first championship meeting 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Florida, which was its third Super Bowl victory in four years.
Philadelphia enters as the underdog for the third straight playoff game after overcoming the odds against the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings. The Eagles are in search of their first Super Bowl win in three appearances.
Date: Sunday, February 4
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Brady's Hand Ready To Go
The most talked about right hand in all of sports appears to be healthy for the big game.
Patriots quarterback Brady, who played in the AFC Championship Game with 12 stitches in his right hand, has had them removed, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Although he was dealing with the injury last Sunday, Brady still put up 290 passing yards and led the Patriots back from a 20-10 deficit to reach his eighth Super Bowl.
The five-time champion has performed well in his previous seven championship games, including 236 passing yards and two touchdowns in the 2005 Super Bowl against the Eagles.
Brady put together his best showing in the Super Bowl a year ago, as he engineered the Patriots' comeback by completing 43 of his 62 passes for 466 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The 40-year-old signal-caller has also achieved success in five career showdowns with the Eagles, as he's tossed 12 touchdowns and been intercepted twice. He is 4-1 against Philadelphia, with the only defeat coming on December 6, 2015, a game in which the Patriots blew a 14-point first-quarter lead.
McDaniels, Patricia Expected to Be Coaching Last Game with Patriots
As most expected, the Patriots will lose their offensive and defensive coordinators after the Super Bowl to head-coaching jobs.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is expected to become the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is set to be introduced as Detroit Lions head coach, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
McDaniels returned to New England in 2012 after a failed two-year stint in charge of the Denver Broncos in which he recorded an 11-17 record and one year as an offensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams.
The 41-year-old has been a part of all five of the Patriots' Super Bowl victories, while the 43-year-old Patricia has been a member of the New England staff since 2004. He has been the defensive coordinator since 2012.
Schefter also noted in his report that special teams coordinator Joe Judge's contract is expiring after this season. He has been in his position since 2015, when he was promoted from special teams assistant.
Eagles Banking on Players with Previous Super Bowl Experience
Eagles defensive end Chris Long and running back LeGarrette Blount, who won a title with the Patriots last season, are two of eight former Super Bowl participants on the current roster.
Safety Malcolm Jenkins, offensive lineman Will Beatty, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, wide receiver Torrey Smith, defensive back Corey Graham and injured special teams ace Chris Maragos all have Super Bowl experience.
Long, Blount, Jenkins, Smith and Graham will be key contributors on Sunday, and all are prepared to give as much advice as possible during the buildup to the championship tilt.
Per Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia, Blount said:
"I told the young guys that you've just got to be a professional. It's hard to control your emotions. There's going to be a lot of distractions as far as family and friends and media. You've got to put all that in the drawer, toss all that aside for however long it takes us to prepare for this game."
In the Patriots' come-from-behind overtime win a year ago, Blount ran for 31 yards on 11 carries and fumbled once.
Smith caught two balls for 35 yards in Baltimore's Super Bowl XLVII triumph over San Francisco, while Ellerbe picked up six tackles and Graham made four tackles. Jenkins recorded four tackles for New Orleans in its Super Bowl XLIV win over Indianapolis.
Foles Looking to Add to List of Victorious Super Bowl Backup Quarterbacks
If the Eagles come out on top on Sunday, Nick Foles will join an illustrious list of backup quarterbacks who have led their teams to a Super Bowl title.
The most famous member of that group will be on the opposite sideline. Brady, who took over for Drew Bledsoe during the 2001 season, won Super Bowl XXXVI against Kurt Warner, who two years prior led the St. Louis Rams to a victory in Super Bowl XXXIV.
Backup quarterbacks have also been key in title runs made by NFC East teams, as the New York Giants won Super Bowl XXV behind Jeff Hostetler after Phil Simms went down with a broken bone in his foot, and the Washington Redskins were led by Doug Williams in their Super Bowl XXII win over the Denver Broncos in which he threw for 340 yards and four touchdowns.
While winning the Super Bowl as a backup quarterback is not an impossible feat, if Foles leads the Eagles to a win over the Patriots, it will go down in NFL lore along with the performances by Brady, Warner, Williams and Hostetler as one of the most unlikely results of all time.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from ESPN.com and Pro Football Reference.