The New England Patriots will bid to tie the Pittsburgh Steelers’ record of six Super Bowl titles on Sunday when they attempt to win their third championship in four years.
New England are in their eighth Super Bowl in 17 years, all of which have been achieved with Bill Belichick as head coach and Tom Brady at quarterback, while their opponents the Philadelphia Eagles have never won the Lombardi Trophy.
Here Press Association Sport details five talking points before Super Bowl LII in Minnesota.
Can Belichick and Brady be stopped?
New England are favourites to win it all again. Not only are they talented and well coached, they also rise to the occasion when the chips are down, having overturned a 28-3 deficit to beat Atlanta in Super Bowl LI. Hope for Philadelphia comes from a stout defensive line which could spook 40-year-old Brady. In both of his two Super Bowl defeats, the New York Giants managed to pressure Brady by primarily using just a four-man front and Philly have the personnel to follow that formula.
How big of an impact will Jay Ajayi have?
There will be British interest at the U.S. Bank Stadium in the shape of Eagles running back Jay Ajayi. The Londoner left for the States when he was seven but is the poster boy for the sport in his homeland. Ajayi was a mid-season pick up for Philadelphia and will share the load with ex-Patriot LeGarrette Blount but will still see plenty of the ball, particularly if New England do not establish a big lead early on.
Which Nick Foles will turn up?
Philadelphia’s hopes are pinned on their inconsistent back-up quarterback and how he performs under the brightest lights. Since filling in for the injured Carson Wentz, Foles has won two play-off games and was outstanding in the NFC Championship Game against Minnesota. Foles is capable of incredible performances, having once thrown seven touchdowns in a game, but can often be underwhelming too.
Can Justin Timberlake avoid another ‘Janet’ moment?
The half-time show garners just as much interest as the game itself and this year’s performance may elicit even more intrigue given Justin Timberlake’s last Super Bowl performance. It was Timberlake who ripped Janet Jackson’s top, briefly exposing a breast covered by a nipple shield, in a moment that stunned the world. However, Timberlake has already ruled out any special guests this time around so the possibility of yet more controversy looks highly unlikely.
Is another Super Bowl thriller on the cards?
NFL fans have been spoiled in the sport’s showpiece event in recent years. Last February’s contest featured a record comeback that was completed in overtime while three years ago New England snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a last gasp goal-line interception from Malcolm Butler. Only one of the past 14 Super Bowls have been decided by more than 14 points so history suggests these contests usually come down to the wire.