New England (15-3) vs. Philadelphia (15-3).
Superstars, overachievers, old guard, new guard.
For the Patriots, it’s all about quarterback Tom Brady, coach Bill Belichick and stability, despite rumors of a possible breakup looming.
New England chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, Belichick and Brady have won five Super Bowl titles together, the most by an owner, head coach and starting quarterback in NFL history.
Been there. Done that.
But championships never get old in the NFL.
The Patriots need one Super Bowl victory to tie the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl wins in history with six. Dallas and San Francisco have five.
The Patriots have posted a winning record in 17 consecutive seasons (2001-17) to pass San Francisco (1983-98) and Dallas (1970-85) for most consecutive seasons with a .500 or better record since the 1970 merger.
They also tied Dallas (1975-83) and Indianapolis (2002-10) for the most consecutive playoff appearances in NFL history with nine.
For the Eagles, it’s been a rags-to-riches season.
From 7-9 and last in the NFC East a year ago to 13-3 and division champions.
Philadelphia has clinched its third conference championship (1980, 2004, 2017) and will be making its third Super Bowl appearance.
Insiders haven’t forgotten what second-year quarterback Carson Wentz did for the team this season, turning in a Pro Bowl effort (3,296 yards, 33 TDs, 7 INT in 13 games) before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament Dec. 10 against the Los Angeles Rams and ending his season.
Outsiders are raving about the way Nick Foles has guided the team to the Super Bowl, although Foles began his career with the Eagles and was shipped out of town after three seasons. A broken collarbone in his third season didn’t help.
However, both players represent the heart and toughness that is the foundation of the Eagles in good times and bad times.
These are great times.
In 14 of the past 15 seasons, at least one team has won its division the season after finishing last or tied for last place.
The last two teams that went from “worst to first” in their division and earned a Super Bowl berth were the 2003 Carolina Panthers (Super Bowl XXXVIII) and the 2009 New Orleans Saints, who won Super Bowl XLIV.
The Patriots and Eagles met in the Super Bowl after the 2004 season, with the Patriots winning 24-21.
That’s the storyline on the field. Here are the storylines on the pageantry that is Super Bowl LII:
Uniforms and uniform colors always matter in sports.
The Patriots will be wearing their white road jerseys in the Super Bowl, even though the AFC is the home team.
The Eagles, as the visiting team, will get to call the coin toss.
For those who play the numbers, 12 of the past 13 Super Bowl winners and each of the past six wore white jerseys, according to NFL Research.
In the Belichick/Brady era, the Patriots are 3-0 when wearing white jerseys.
Speaking of numbers, there are more.
This will be the sixth Super Bowl rematch. The Patriots beat the Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX.
In the past three rematches and four of five overall, the team that won the first game also won the second game.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys have met three times in the Super Bowl. The Steelers won the first two games.
Referee Gene Steratore will lead the seven-person crew of on-field game officials.
Steratore made some super headlines of his own in December when he used a folded sheet of paper to measure a critical first down during the Dallas Cowboys’ 20-17 win over the Oakland Raiders.
Steratore, in his 15th season as an NFL game official, entered the league in 2003 as a field judge and was promoted to referee in 2006. He has officiated 11 playoff games, including two conference championships. He was the alternate referee for Super Bowl XLIV.
The other members of the Super Bowl LII officiating crew are Roy Ellison (umpire), Jerry Bergman (down judge), Byron Boston (line judge), Tom Hill (field judge), Scott Edwards (side judge) and Perry Paganelli (back judge). Collectively, the Super Bowl LII officiating crew has 127 years of NFL officiating experience and 101 combined playoff game assignments.
Paul Weidner is the replay official.
Steratore and Bergman are officiating their first Super Bowl.
America the Beautiful
Tony and Grammy Award-winning performer Leslie Odom, Jr., will sing “America the Beautiful” as part of the pregame festivities.
The appearance will be the first time Odom, an original cast member of the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit “Hamilton: An American Musical,” will perform on the Super Bowl stage.
Three-time Grammy Award winner Pink will be making her first appearance on the Super Bowl stage when she sings the national anthem.
Her seventh studio album, Beautiful Trauma, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s 200 chart and marked her career high for first-week sales. The first single, What About Us, received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Solo Performance and reached No. 1 on the adult pop songs chart, earning her ninth leader on the chart, the most No. 1 hits at the format for a female (second overall).
On behalf of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), Alexandria Wailes will sign the national anthem and America the Beautiful.
This will be Timberlake’s third time performing on the Super Bowl halftime stage, giving him the distinction of having the most appearances by an individual entertainer. He previously performed at Super Bowls XXXV and XXXVIII.
Manasa Yerriboyina, a 12-year-old from Rochester, Minn., is this season’s NFL PLAY 60 Super Kid.
As the winner of the 2017 NFL PLAY 60 Super Bowl Contest presented by Danimals, Manasa will act as the official NFL PLAY 60 Ambassador during Super Bowl Week and deliver the game ball to the official on the field moments before the kickoff.
Hundreds of young fans nationwide entered this year’s NFL PLAY 60 Super Bowl Contest presented by Danimals online at NFLRUSH.com/SuperKid. To be eligible, Manasa submitted videos showcasing her favorite celebration dance and her commitment to being active for 60 minutes a day.
Manasa is a seventh-grade student who helps lead health and wellness events at her school throughout the year.
Watch Manasa’s surprise here: https://tinyurl.com/y7hcd8jr.
Calling the game
Seven-time Emmy Award-winner Al Michaels (play-by-play), in his record 32nd season, and 16-time Emmy Award-winner Cris Collinsworth (analyst), who played in two Super Bowls as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, will be in the NBC booth, with two-time Emmy Award-winning reporter Michele Tafoya on the sideline.
This marks the 10th Super Bowl assignment for Michaels, and the fourth for both Collinsworth and Tafoya.
Dan Patrick will host the Super Bowl LII pre-game show alongside co-host Liam McHugh, who will be joined by NBC Football Night in America teammates Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Mike Florio and Chris Simms. Paul Burmeister, Kathryn Tappen and Randy Moss also will appear on the pregame coverage.
The NFL will salute 15 recipients of the Medal of Honor.
The 15 recipients will participate in the official on-field coin toss. World War II veteran and former Marine Herschel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, who received the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the Battle of Iwo Jima, will flip the coin.
Joining Williams will be Bennie Adkins (Army), Don Ballard (Navy), Sammy Davis (Army), Roger Donlon (Army), Sal Giunta (Army), Flo Groberg (Army), Tom Kelley (Navy), Allan Kellogg (Marines), Gary Littrell (Army), Walter Marm (Army), Robert Patterson (Army), Leroy Petry (Army), Clint Romesha (Army), and James Taylor (Army).
The Medal of Honor is for valor in action against an enemy force and is the highest award that can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the armed services of the United States.
Can I get a ticket?
Is that a trick question?
Tickets might still be available on resale, but they won’t be cheap.
NFL Ticket Exchange powered by Ticketmaster is the official resale marketplace of the NFL where fans can buy and resell verified authentic Super Bowl LII tickets. Visit NFLTicketExchange.com for more information.
If you’re looking for another outlet, there’s the Ticketmaster Ticket Exchange.
According to Ticketmaster data, the average ticket price for Super Bowl tickets on their platform is $5,564. The lowest starting price is currently $3,407.
Here are some other statistics:
▪ NFL fans are willing to travel to see their team in action — nearly 30 percent are willing to travel 100 miles and more than 20 percent are willing to travel more than 500 miles.
▪ Relationship woes? Some 40 percent of NFL fans say attending a game has strengthened their relationship.
▪ Wearing lucky clothing is fans’ No. 1 game-day ritual.
Is it cold in Minneapolis?
Is that another trick question?
Even though U.S. Bank Stadium is an indoor facility, fans still have to withstand the elements to get inside.
The average low temperature for Minneapolis in February is 7 degrees Fahrenheit. The average high temperature for Minneapolis in February is 24 degrees Fahrenheit.
The game day forecast is for a high of 16 and a low of 2. The good news is that there’s only a 20 percent chance of precipitation.
Maybe it’s a good thing there’s no tailgating allowed before the game.
If you’re going to the game ...
The game is being played at U.S. Bank Stadium. It’s on the corner of South Sixth Street and 11th Avenue South, close to the Mississippi River. The address is 401 Chicago Ave.
Fans are encouraged to use service options provided by Metro.
If you’re driving, all stadium parking lots will require a parking permit. Only Super Bowl LII ticket holders will be allowed in U.S. Bank Stadium parking lots on game day.
If you’re using ride hailing transportation, Uber, taxis and Lyft are available.
There will be no vehicle-for-hire (limo, sprinter, mini bus, motor coach) drop off or pick up at the stadium.
If you’re not going to the game (like most) ...
Well, that’s where NBC comes in.
NBC Sports Group’s broadcast, cable, digital and radio platforms will present nearly 100 hours of coverage on-site from Minneapolis. They will be using 50 miles of camera and microphone cable, 130 microphones and 106 cameras, including 20 pylon cameras.
▪ The Road to the Super Bowl show begins at 11 a.m.
▪ The Super Bowl pregame begins at noon
▪ Game coverage starts at 5 p.m. with the kickoff at 5:30 p.m.
▪ The postgame coverage is at 9 p.m.
Don’t forget the commercials. A 30-second commercial will cost advertisers $5 million because when it comes to the Super Bowl, time really is money.
Who’s got next
After queries about the pageantry, commercials and game, the most asked question is where is the next Super Bowl?
Thanks for asking.
Super Bowl LIII will be Feb 3, 2019, at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga.
For the deep planners, Super Bowl LIV is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 2, 2020, at Hard Rock Stadium in south Florida.