Storylines abound as the Super Bowl returns to the Land of 10,000 Lakes (there are actually 11,842 lakes in Minnesota at last count) for the first time since 1991. Just about all of those have been explored in some form or another in this space over the past 13 days, with everything from a ranking of all 106 players on the two rosters to the more, shall we say, simplistic way of determining whether you're experiencing a truly cold day in Minnesota to a complete breakdown of the greatest teams in each NFL franchise's history that don't have a Lombardi trophy to show for it.
Because of the extra time between championship weekend and Super Bowl Sunday, the amount of angles explored can resemble Thurman Thomas' helmet the last time the Super Bowl was played in the Twin Cities, in that they're both hard to keep track of.
Given all of that, we'll do our best to provide you a one-stop shop for all of your Super Bowl needs. Here's everything you need to know (and maybe some things you didn't know you needed to know) if you're planning to watch the game, make an investment in its outcome, or simply want to be the go-to person for information at your Super Bowl party.
Brady seeks to further cement his place in history
A win on Sunday would give Tom Brady his sixth championship as the Patriots' starting quarterback and make him the first player in NFL history to win that many rings, breaking a tie with Charles Haley.
If Brady gets to six, it would tie him with the man many consider the greatest team sport athlete of all time, Michael Jordan, in the championships won department. Ian O'Connor breaks down the potential Jordan-Brady debate.
At 40 years old, Brady will become the oldest quarterback (and non-specialist) to start in a Super Bowl. He's not the first athlete to excel at 40 or older, but he might be playing at the highest level of all of them. Speaking of age, when Brady turned 40, ESPN's Mike Reiss offered up a collection of stories about Brady that most people had never heard.
Brady has never struggled to conjure up some magic on the game's biggest stage, but he'll be hard-pressed to top what he pulled off last year, when he led the Patriots to the most incredible comeback in Super Bowl history. That's why Mike Sando ranks it as the best Super Bowl MVP performance in history. On the topic of ranking performances, Reiss listed the top 10 Brady playoff efforts.
With all Brady has accomplished, there's a strong chance he's going to have ample opportunity to add to his résumé. Patriots president Jonathan Kraft made it clear Brady will be given plenty of latitude in deciding when to call it quits.
While Brady is universally loved in the New England area and has his followers in the Bay Area, where he's from, don't be surprised if there are pockets of Minnesotans making noise on his behalf Sunday. Brady's mother grew up in central Minnesota and the Brady family would return for a visit every summer when he was a child.
Eagles just might have the D-line to stop Brady
The Patriots opened as 5.5-point favorites, and much of the hype has centered on Brady and coach Bill Belichick adding to their legacy. The Eagles wouldn't have it any other way, as the sales of dog masks over the past few weeks would attest. Philadelphia has fully embraced its underdog role.
But Philadelphia also just might have the one thing that can give Brady and the Patriots problems in the biggest game of all. That would be a strong defensive line that goes seven deep and is capable of creating pressure without the help of the blitz. In these playoffs, the Eagles have sent five or more rushers just 16 percent of the time but still generated pressure on 35 percent of dropbacks. Part of the reason for that is the depth that has allowed them to keep their defensive line fresh. Philadelphia had seven defensive linemen play at least 400 snaps in 2017.
In seven previous Super Bowls, Brady has been pressured 10 or more times and taken multiple sacks three times: in the Pats' two losses to the Giants and last year's comeback win against the Falcons. Beyond just getting sacks or incompletions when they get pressure, the Eagles also have a penchant for getting takeaways when they get after opposing quarterbacks.
Philadelphia has 15 takeaways, including 10 interceptions, when pressuring opposing quarterbacks this season, good for second in the NFL. And for what it's worth, Brady has thrown four of his five interceptions in Super Bowls when pressured, while completing 74 percent of his passes when not under pressure.
In what amounts to the closest thing we've seen to bulletin-board material from either side, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins absolutely believes his defense is ready to prove the Patriots' dynasty can be conquered.
Speaking of that defensive line, end Chris Long has been a key addition for the Eagles. The man who once knew nothing but losing in the NFL is playing in his second consecutive Super Bowl and he (along with running back LeGarrette Blount) is doing it against the team he won his first title with last season. Long's second trip to the Super Bowl in as many years isn't just happenstance, either. When he became a free agent in the offseason, he sought out Philadelphia in an effort to get back to a scheme more suited to his skills, ESPN's Jordan Ranaan writes.
Which Foles will show up?
Since replacing the injured Carson Wentz as the starting quarterback, Nick Foles' performance has most closely resembled one of the roller coasters inside the Mall of America. That also has been the modus operandi for Foles' career, from his breakout in 2013 to the lowly days when he was benched for Case Keenum with the Rams.
We've already seen both sides of that coin just in the time since Foles took over for Wentz near the end of the season. So, which Foles will show up Sunday? It's a question ESPN's Bill Barnwell attempted to answer.
To pull out the "good" Foles, the Eagles actually had to dive back into their recent history, conjuring concepts from former coach Chip Kelly, who was in charge of the offense when Foles was at his best. FiveThirtyEight provided some of the numbers behind how the Eagles changed their offense to allow Foles to succeed.
Don't underestimate coach Doug Pederson's role in adapting and building the Eagles' offense, either. On paper, it might look like a mismatch against Belichick, but Belichick himself sees a talented coach at the top of his game on the other side.
One season in Kansas City (not to mention away from Jeff Fisher) helped Foles get his career back on track, ESPN's Adam Teicher writes. Even amid all the chaos of Super Bowl week, Foles has remained calm in the run-up to the game.
For as crazy as Foles' story might seem, it's not entirely unheard of. In fact, Foles is the third quarterback and the first since the Giants' Jeff Hostetler in 1990 to make three or fewer regular-season starts and then guide his team to a Super Bowl. For what it's worth, there could be some good mojo in that stat for Foles. Hostetler and Washington's Doug Williams are the other two to accomplish the feat. Both played for NFC East teams, and both went on to win the Super Bowl.
And what of the quarterback who put the Eagles in the postseason in the first place? Well, Wentz seems to be coming along just fine, with a goal of Week 1 next season for his return from a season-ending knee injury.
Patriots' run of success is unmatched in league history
Sunday will mark New England's record-extending 10th Super Bowl appearance. It's the eighth for Belichick at the Pats' helm and for Brady at quarterback. That pairing has led the charge behind the most successful and extensive run of success in NFL history. This Super Bowl comes in the midst of the greatest 17-year run of success the league has ever seen.
The Patriots' .766 winning percentage (not to mention five Super Bowls and 15 division titles) in those 17 years is easily the most successful run spread out over that many years. There are plenty of other eye-popping numbers showing just how dominant New England has been in that span.
Considering that Brady and Belichick already hold the record for most Super Bowl appearances at their respective jobs, there's no shortage of great seasons they've put together as a duo. Football Outsiders' Aaron Schatz ranked them from 1 to 16, leaving out the season Brady mostly missed in 2008.
One of the questions that will be asked about the Patriots' run is whether it was Brady or Belichick who had the most impact on their success. For New England fans, the answer to that question is irrelevant, but it's still an interesting debate.
In case you missed it earlier in the season, this oral history traces Belichick's rise to prominence in the NFL. Given their success, it can be hard to keep talent together, but Kraft deserves credit for keeping Brady and Belichick together for so long and allowing New England's dynasty to squeeze out every last drop of its potential.
Gronkowski's play is essential for the Patriots
There's no injury situation in this game that will have more bearing on the outcome than Rob Gronkowski's effort to return from a concussion. On Thursday, the Patriots tight end was cleared to play. In fact, FiveThirtyEight says Gronkowski could be a death knell to the Eagles.
Gronkowski has slowly worked his way back from the concussion he suffered in the AFC Championship Game against Jacksonville. It's safe to say Gronkowski will again find himself the target of big hits from Eagles defenders having to work extra hard to bring him down. Such is life as a dominant big man, ESPN's Kevin Van Valkenberg writes.
Options for off-the-field entertainment are bountiful
You can finally place that bet you've searched for pitting the number of fairways Hideki Matsuyama hits in the fourth round of the Waste Management Open against the number of points scored by New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
Betting on completely random things is a Super Bowl tradition as timeless as eating too much dip and complaining about having to go to work the next day. Fear not: There are plenty of options for you to sink your teeth (and savings account) into this year. ESPN's Ben Fawkes took a glance at a few of the many potential options for those who are hoping to walk away from the Super Bowl with victories beyond team pride. For the serious gambler, Insider offered a complete betting guide.
If you prefer more traditional wagers, the Eagles entered the week as the biggest Super Bowl underdogs since 2009, with lines favoring the Patriots ranging from 5 points to 6.5 to open the week. Eagles supporters haven't hesitated to try to cash in on the team's underdog status with multiple six-figure bets coming in on them to win outright. One bettor even put $1 million on the Eagles.
Even with that much money on the line, you'd be hard-pressed to find a riskier bet on the line than the one Long has with Eagles assistant Ken Flajole. If Philadelphia wins, Long is supposed to get a picture of Flajole's face tattooed somewhere on his body.
Players, matchups, stats, information to know
Getting a lead on Belichick & Co. is one thing, but sealing the deal is another. NFL insiders dish on how Philadelphia should approach beating New England.
ESPN The Magazine uses the numbers to break down the matchup from all angles.
Here is a quick breakdown of the game with a look from each side and some gut-reaction predictions after championship Sunday.
Five NFL coaches offered some insight and predictions for Super Bowl LII.
Barnwell dives deep and makes his prediction.
The entire ESPN NFL staff also weighed in with predictions.
ESPN's Kevin Seifert provides everything you need to know about the officiating crew.
In the span of one week, the Eagles made a series of moves that set them up for success in 2017.
Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia are on their way to head-coaching jobs, but it's linebackers coach Brian Flores who might have the brightest coaching future of all considering the path he has followed to get where he is.
Safety Patrick Chung started his career with New England, and had a brief stint with the Eagles before returning to the Patriots. In his second turn with the team, he has become a key cog, according to Belichick.
Considering a last-minute trip to Minnesota for the game? It's slightly cheaper because the Vikings didn't make it, but it's still not exactly a bargain.
Finally, if you're still undecided on which team to root for on Sunday, this quiz is here to help.