Why you should care
Because it’s the biggest game in town.
This is an OZY Special Briefing, an extension of the Presidential Daily Brief. The Special Briefing tells you what you need to know about an important issue, individual or story that is making news. Each one serves up an interesting selection of facts, opinions, images and videos in order to catch you up and vault you ahead.
Update: The Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII (Final score: 41-33).
WHAT TO KNOW
An Epic Rematch. This year’s most over-the-top display of American sports pageantry could very well make history. On Sunday, Minneapolis hosts a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX, when the New England Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles. A win on Sunday would give New England (the favorites) a sixth title this century, cementing the respective legacies of quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick as the best ever.
Eagle Eyeing. Meanwhile, the Eagles are searching for their first Super Bowl title ever. After 15 years of mediocrity, Eagles general manager — and 2017 NFL Executive of the Year — Howie Roseman has revamped the club. He drafted star QB Carson Wentz, then worked to build a balanced club around him. The Eagles added 14 major contributors this offseason, bouncing back from a 7–9 record last season to go 13–3 this year.
And If You Don’t Care About SPORTS! As much as this is a football game, it’s also an event. The ads cost $5 million for a 30-second spot, mind you, and Justin Timberlake will headline the halftime show.
HOW TO THINK ABOUT IT
A Tale of Two Quarterbacks. Both teams were No. 1 seeds in their respective conferences, but the narrative surrounding them could not be more different. In the NFC, Philadelphia was widely dismissed as a championship contender once Wentz tore his ACL in Week 14. But led by backup–turned–starting QB Nick Foles, who was contemplating retirement last year at the age of 28, the Eagles have been dominant. In the other corner, there’s Brady at 40 years old with five Super Bowl victories and four Super Bowl MVP awards.
The (Great?) Unknown. Eagles Coach Doug Pederson is one of only three NFL coaches who does not have ties to Belichick or his coaching mentor, Bill Parcells. Still, the Patriots are the best team in the NFL when it comes to preparation and confusing the opponent. New England’s offense was not only one of the league’s most prolific this year, finishing first in yards and second in points (28.6), but it was the NFL’s most efficient too. But they’ll have their work cut out for them against the Eagles’ second-ranked defense.
Knee-d to Know. Both teams have more than dabbled in politics. Brady has been seen in the past with MAGA gear, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft donated a million dollars to President Trump’s inauguration ceremonies. For the Eagles, DE Chris Long made headlines this season for joining Malcolm Jenkins and other teammates in protest.
Watch the Line. On the offensive side, Philadelphia boasts a versatile line that manhandles most opponents. All Pro tackle Lane Johnson and center Jason Kelce lead the way, and right guard Brandon Brooks has emerged as a star. They’ll be matched up with New England’s equally versatile, underrated defensive line. Look for New England’s Trey Flowers to be a game-changer. The third-year pro moves all over the field and could be a constant disrupter of Foles. On the flip side, for the Eagles to have any chance at victory, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Chris Long and company will have to hit Tom Brady early and often.
WHAT TO READ
Eagles Have the Ingredients Needed to Upset the Patriots in Super Bowl LII, by Michael Rosenberg at Sports Illustrated
”[The Patriots] have won a lot of games over the years when they didn’t dominate. They have been great because of some combination of talent, craftiness and adaptability, driven by the best quarterback and coach in history.”
The Super Bowl Rematch That Isn’t, by Danny Kelly at The Ringer
“The first thing that stands out is how much the league’s most-utilized schemes and formations have changed in the past 13 years.”
The NFL Boycott Is Real — And Big, by Daniel Malloy at OZY
“33 percent of football fans said they purposefully stopped watching or attending NFL games this season.”
WHAT TO WATCH
Tom vs. Time, the six-part documentary series.
“I know that I’m nothing without the guys that I play with. Your role is very fragile.” – Tom Brady
Janet Jackson’s Wardrobe Malfunction With Justin Timberlake in the 2004 Super Bowl.
WHAT TO SAY AT THE WATERCOOLER
- Pump Me Up: Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, who won a Super Bowl with Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson as Packers teammates in 1996, will share some words of wisdom with the Eagles on Saturday morning.
- It’s a Gambler’s Game: An all-time high $138.4 million was bet last year on the Super Bowl in Nevada, the only U.S. state with widespread legal sports betting. Bookmakers anticipate an even greater figure this year. As of Wednesday, 2.6 times as much money has been bet on the Eagles as has been on the Patriots, and William Hill U.S. reported taking a $1 million money-line bet on the Eagles on Monday.
- Northwoods Special: Super Bowl LII is the sixth Super Bowl to be held in a cold-weather city and Minneapolis’ first big game since 1992. Minneapolis is also the northernmost city to host an NFL championship.