Two big story lines

Eagles are a machine on third down

Quarterback Nick Foles and the Eagles offense trampled the Vikings on third downs, converting 10 of 14 attempts in the NFC Championship Game. How they fare vs. the Patriots, allowing 37 percent conversion in two playoff victories, will be a major factor in a Super Bowl win or loss.

 

MVP candidate Wentz watches from sideline

No matter the outcome, the future is bright for Philadelphia and former North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz. His 33 touchdown passes ranked second among all quarterbacks despite missing the final three games because of a torn left knee ligament in Week 14.

Two key matchups

Eagles LT Halapoulivaati Vaitai vs. Patriots DE Trey Flowers

The Eagles lost All-Pro LT Jason Peters in October, but they haven’t fallen off much thanks to Vaitai. Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen went without a sack vs. Vaitai in the NFC title game. Flowers, the Patriots’ top rusher, had four hits on Blake Bortles in the AFC title game.

 

Eagles TE Zach Ertz vs. Patriots S Patrick Chung

The Patriots haven’t been tested by tight ends this postseason (Jaguars tight ends had only two catches for 8 yards in the AFC title game). One catch went for a TD with Chung nearby in coverage. Ertz, the Eagles’ leading receiver, can be a matchup nightmare vs. the Patriots defense.

The Eagles will win if…

They win in the fourth quarter

The Patriots have outscored opponents 53-21 in the fourth quarters of their past five playoff games, including 19-0 in last year’s Super Bowl vs. the Falcons. Philadelphia needs to somehow prevent another signature Tom Brady comeback to win the Eagles’ first Lombardi Trophy.

 

They effectively run the ball

Patriots opponents averaged about 45 more rushing yards per game when defeating New England this season, so keeping Tom Brady on the sideline will be crucial. The Eagles led the NFL in time of possession because they effectively ran the ball with LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement.

ANDREW KRAMMER