Here we go again: The Eagles are big underdogs in Super Bowl LII

The Birds are relishing the role, but history says it doesn’t help in the Big Game.

NFL: NFC Championship-Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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Yep, we’re underdogs. Again.

As the Eagles head into their first Super Bowl appearance since 2005, sportsbooks have their opponents as 6-point favorites. No surprise, as it’s the perennial champion New England Patriots, who edged past the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 in the AFC championship game Sunday.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia trounced the Minnesota Vikings 38-7 in the NFC title game, making this the 13th time since 1975 the Super Bowl will be played between the No. 1 seeds in both conferences. Over the last five seasons, the top seeds have made the Super Bowl nine out of 10 times. The only No. 1 seed to not make the Super Bowl in the last half decade is the 2016 Dallas Cowboys. (Sorry, Dallas.)

Team history in the Super Bowl

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots are making their 10th Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, and their eighth since Tom Brady took over for Drew Bledsoe during the 2001 season, starting the most successful era of professional football in the history of the game. Brady and Bill Belichick have now made the Super Bowl for the eighth time in their careers in New England. Only three other NFL franchises — the PIttsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos — have made the Super Bowl eight times in NFL history.

The Eagles are making their third trip to the Super Bowl. The last time the Birds made the Big Game was after the 2004 season, when they lost to New England and Donovan McNabb may or may not have thrown up in the huddle.

Stop me if you’ve heard this, but the Eagles have never won the Super Bowl. The Patriots have won five.

Odds are…

Last season, the Patriots went into Super Bowl LI as three-point favorites over the Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan and the Falcons got out to a 28-3 lead before losing 34-28 in overtime. Expect to hear a lot about this over the next two weeks, as the Patriots are hoping to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since the last time the Patriots beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl 14 seasons ago.

The last time a Super Bowl spread was this big was the 2009 season, when Pittsburgh was a seven-point favorite over Arizona. The Steelers won that game 27-23 (in one of the best Super Bowl finishes of all time) but failed to cover the spread. The last time the Eagles were in the Super Bowl, they were underdogs by seven points to the Patriots. They lost by three.

In the Brady-Belichick era, the Patriots have been previously favored in the Super Bowl five times, with Super Bowl XLIX being officially listed as a pick’em game between New England and Seattle. The Patriots are 5-2 in the Super Bowl in this era, but just 3-2 when favored to win.

NFL: NFC Championship-Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Underdogs have done well in the Super Bowl lately. Denver was a five-point dog in Super Bowl 50 but beat Carolina by 14 points. The Patriots opened as underdogs against Seattle before the line moved to a pick ‘em before Super Bowl XLIX. New England won by four.

The 2014 season saw Seattle head into Super Bowl XLVIII as a 2.5-point underdog before crushing the Denver Broncos 43-8. The year before that, Baltimore was a 4.5-point underdog to San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII and won by three. The year before that, the Patriots lost 21-17 to the Giants, who were 2.5-point underdogs.

Outside of last season, the last favorite to win the Super Bowl was Green Bay in Super Bowl XLV, beating Pittsburgh 31-25 as three-point favorites to end the 2011 season. Not counting the Patriots’ win over Seattle, over the last 20 years, the officially-listed Super Bowl underdog has won the game outright nine times, per Vegas Insider, covering the spread 12 times. In the last 10 years, the three Super Bowl games considered blowouts were won by the underdogs.

Basically, while the Eagles are relishing being underdogs this postseason, over the last two decades being the Super Bowl favorite hasn’t meant a whole lot when it comes to actually winning the game. So keep your dog masks, folks. You might need them for a walk down Broad St. in a few weeks.

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