How Eagles Are Handling Patriots' Mystique

When you face the Patriots, you're taking on much more than a football team. You're going up against the Patriots Mystique.

A franchise that's won five of the last 16 Super Bowls. A team that's reached more Super Bowls since 2001 than all but three other franchises have reached in their history. The greatest coach ever and the greatest quarterback ever.

It's like preparing for the Yankees, the Bulls or the Steelers during their historic runs.

If you get intimidated by the uniform, you've already lost.

Part of Doug Pederson's job this week is to make sure his team doesn't get distracted by the Patriots' unprecedented two decades of success and focuses simply on preparing for a game against another football team.

"It's a real question," Pederson said Thursday. "That's a real issue that you have.

"These guys been there, they've done it, they've proven it time and time again."

The only team to beat the Patriots in a Super Bowl during the Brady-Belichick regime is the Giants, who did it after both the 2007 and 2011 seasons.

The Patriots won Super Bowls after the 2001, 2003, 2004, 2014 and 2016 seasons, beating the Eagles of course in 2004 in Jacksonville.

The two teams meet again a week from Sunday in Minneapolis in Super Bowl LII.

"My biggest focus with the team is let's just focus on today, let's win today, let's get better today and worry about [the Patriots] when we get to the game," Pederson said.

"Obviously it's a credit to what the Patriots have done and their careers and their history. Everybody's trying to win championships like that, but we're just trying to focus on today."

A lot of the Eagles players were kids and obsessive football fans when Brady and Belichick were getting started winning Super Bowls.

Here they are now a decade and a half later about to face that dynasty.

But Pederson said he has no plans to address any of this with his players. His goal is to just get them to focus on their job each day, and he believes that's the best way to keep them from getting swept up in all the Patriots hype.

"You know what? If I make this all about [the Patriots], we're in trouble," he said. "Honestly. We're in trouble.

"Everything's going to be written about it, has been written about it, talked about it, discussed, debated, and it's about us. And I'll keep saying that. It's about what we do and how well we execute and I can't worry about that."

The contrasts between the two teams are striking.

Belichick has won five Super Bowls. Pederson was coaching high school football a few years ago. 

Brady has won five Super Bowls. Nick Foles has never even been a starter through an entire season.

But Pederson said just watching film of the Patriots should make all his players forget all the history and focus solely on preparing for this game.

"They're a resilient group," Pederson said. "Just put on that Jacksonville game. There's a team that gets down in the game early and there's no panic, you know? They just stay the course, they execute their game plan.

"Defense is creating turnovers, 3-and-outs, they're getting the ball back to their offense. It's just an efficient group.

"That's why it's important for us to continue to detail what we do in practice and execute our game plan, and guys are focused that way instead and you just can't get caught up in what they do. It's more about what we do in this game."

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