Picking Patriots, Eagles again

In this era of binge-watching shows online and networks seeming afraid to air reruns, we’re getting a repeat Super Bowl.

It’s been 13 years since the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles faced off in Super Bowl XXIX, and though a lot has changed, three factors remain the same: Tom Brady is the Patriots’ quarterback, Bill Belichick is their coach and the Eagles are underdogs.

But unless you’re an Eagle or Patriot fan — or harbor an immense dislike for one of the teams — you might not have any emotional investment in the game itself. That doesn’t mean you won’t end up watching it though, and it’s bound to be a little more fun if you have a rooting interest.

So whether you’re watching the game because you’re going to a party, like football, enjoy the commercials or just need a way to kill time until the new “This Is Us” comes on afterward, here’s my guide to picking a team to root for when you don’t really care.

It doesn’t predict who will win, so you could still end up disappointed — but there won’t be any crockpots on the field, if that makes you feel better.

1. PROXIMITY

Some folks around here were feeling pretty good about Pittsburgh’s chances of making it to the big game until the Steelers ran into a teal-black-and-gold buzzsaw in the form of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

If they want to root for the squad closest to home now, it’s the Eagles, who play their games 417 miles away from Parkersburg. The Patriots’ home in Foxborough, Mass., is 700 miles northeast of us.

Philadelphia 1, New England 0

2. ALMA MATERS

For the Mid-Ohio Valley, the Eagles are the “home” team in more ways than one.

Philadelphia has a quartet former West Virginia Mountaineers — linebacker Najee Goode, running back Wendell Smallwood, cornerback Rasul Douglas and wide receiver Shelton Gibson — on its active roster, plus Marshall’s Vinny Curry at defensive end and veteran Ohio State Buckeye Malcolm Jenkins at safety. Former OSU punter Cameron Johnson was signed to a reserve/future contract but won’t be playing in the game.

For the Patriots, the list starts and ends with defensive back Nate Ebner, who was placed on injured reserve in November after injuring his knee on a fake punt.

Philadelphia 2, New England 0

3. UNIFORMS

If all else fails, root for the team whose clothes you like.

In other years, I’ve had to give some consideration to which team’s uniforms are more aesthetically pleasing, leading to, in some cases, minutes of thought. But since these teams matched up in 2005 and haven’t significantly changed their uniforms since, I can check our archives for my column that year, and boom:

“Green’s my favorite color, but the Eagles’ is too dark. Besides, when’s the last time you saw a green eagle? The Patriots’ red, white and blue isn’t exactly an original color scheme, but it fits them perfectly and looks unique to them, especially with the silver thrown in.”

Philadelphia 2, New England 1

4. MASCOTS

Neither team has a particularly original mascot. In those cases, I like to go with which one would win in an actual, physical match-up. And I don’t even have to go back to the 2005 column since the Patriots played the Falcons in last year’s Super Bowl:

“If you take the mascots literally, I think a human would have the advantage over a really cool bird in most cases — although a falcon admittedly would be hard for a guy in a tri-corner hat to tackle.”

Just change “falcon” to “eagle,” and we’re good to go. And before some of you go online or write letters pointing out that falcons are not the same as Eagles, just remember: That would have involved a few more precious minutes on Google. I think it’s close enough.

New England 2, Philadelphia 2

5. STORYLINE

There may be an ongoing Facebook documentary about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s continued defiance of time, and if ESPN keeps doing “30 for 30s,” there will eventually be one or 12 about the Patriots’ nearly two decades of excellence (in addition to the recent “The Two Bills”).

But like artists who aren’t appreciated in their lifetime, sports dynasties don’t tend to get their full measure of appreciation while they’re trampling other teams.

The Eagles are the underdogs here, especially with starting quarterback Carson Wentz lost for the season and Nick Foles — once a potential star, now relegated to backup duty — at the helm.

Philadelphia 3, New England 2

Contact Evan Bevins at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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