The ultimate game has been set.
And it’s just like we all had it pegged.
The best quarterback and maybe now the best football player in NFL history, New England Patriots quarterbacks Tom Brady, vs. the ultimate underdog, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.
You remember Foles, don’t you?
He’s the man Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones disrespectfully peered down his uppity nose at before last season.
With his team seemingly in need of a backup for then-starter Tony Romo, Jones said “Foles isn’t an option. We know Foles pretty well. We like (Kellen) Moore.”
“We like Moore” is now a punch line for the Cowboys’ futility since their last Super Bowl title in the 1995 season and seemingly a perfect example of the disparate fates of the Cowboys and their NFC-rival Eagles over the last 20 years.
The Eagles still have never won a Super Bowl in their history but, thanks to Foles, they will be playing in Super Bowl LII against the Patriots on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.
Foles completed 26 of 33 passes for 352 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday’s 38-7 blowout of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game to continue his improbable rise from unwanted backup to Super Bowl quarterback.
Romo, who was actually replaced by Dak Prescott in 2016 and retired to the broadcast booth this season, never did it.
Moore broke his leg shortly after Jones’ proclamation two summers ago only to be replaced as the primary backup by undrafted free agent Cooper Rush in 2017.
The Cowboys like Moore so much that he is line to become the team’s quarterbacks coach.
If only Foles was so fortunate.
He will likely somehow take solace in leading a band of Eagles underdogs into the Super Bowl against Brady and Bill Belichick, the greatest quarterback and coach duo in NFL history looking for their sixth title since 2001.
Foles is not supposed to be here and neither are the Eagles, if you use the Cowboys’ litany of reasons for failure.
Philadelphia entered the season with coach Doug Pederson on the hot seat. They lost one of their top offensive weapons in the preseason in Darren Sproles, lost their best offensive lineman in left tackle Jason Peters, their best linebacker in Jordan Hicks and then quarterback Carson Wentz, the 2016 No. 1 overall pick who was on his way to winning playing of the year honors.
Despite having home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, no one gave the Foles-led Eagles a shot at getting to Minneapolis.
They beat the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round as home dogs before Foles took apart the favored Vikings and their vaunted defense with a flawless performance.
As much as what the Eagles have accomplished is about Foles, it’s also about the coaching staff and a front office that could teach Jones and the Cowboys a thing a two about player evaluation, acquisition and deployment.
A healthy Cowboys team had home field throughout the playoffs last year and were one-and-done.
But let’s not digress.
This is about the Eagles and Patriots, who have followed the Cowboys dynasty teams of the 1990s with two decades of dominance.
The Patriots are looking to join the Pittsburgh Steelers with six Super Bowl titles, surpassing the Cowboys with five.
They will be the decided favorites as expected because of Belichick and Brady.
And while we also expected Brady to here, this week brought some drama to the expected certainty.
He sliced his throwing hand in practice after hitting it on the helmet of running back Rex Burkhead, got stitches and endured some ligament damage.
Yet, he completed 26 of 38 passes for 290 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns to lead the Patriots to a 24-20 comeback victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The most talked about and scrutinized hand in the NFL history proved to be just fine as we all expected.
It may one day be remembered as Brady’s flu-game, a la Michael Jordan in the NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz.
“I thought out of all the plays, my season can’t end on a handoff. In practice,” Brady said after the game. “We didn’t come this far to end on a handoff.”
His dynasty and dominance may never end. He wants more.
He will have to go through Foles.