Super Bowl LII Preview: Who should you root for?

WASHINGTON — Since approximately halftime of the Philadelphia Eagles’ historic thrashing of the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, we’ve heard little outside of the exasperated cries of football fans dreading the sight of the New England Patriots “hosting” the Eagles in Super Bowl LII.

It’s the Super Bowl matchup so undesirable that some have even gone as far as to root for a third, very graphic option:

(In case you don’t know the scene in question, here’s the short version.)

But, let’s be real here: You’re going to watch the game. You’re not going antiquing with your significant other. You’re not binge-watching Netflix. On Sunday, Feb. 4, your TV will be tuned to NBC to see just what goes down at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

There’s nothing wrong with that, either. The Super Bowl is more than just a football game. It’s basically an American holiday observed even by non-football fans. So no matter how much we hate the participants, non-fans won’t miss a good excuse for a social gathering and football fans aren’t going to pass up the chance to get one last real taste of professional football until August.

In fact, this is the best way to watch football. While seeing your team play in the country’s biggest sporting event is an amazing thrill, watching games without a vested rooting interest is a close second — and generally better for the blood pressure. Perhaps it’s a bit defeatist, but I find it relieving to know there’s no chance for soul-crushing grief at the end of the night.

That said, there’s no joy in seeing either the Patriots or Eagles leave Minneapolis with a Lombardi Trophy in hand. Of the last 16 Super Bowls, New England has played in half of them and won five — but their greatness isn’t celebrated, it’s widely reviled. Philly fans have a long, sordid history (oh, there’s another link … I could really do this all day) and it would be a slap in the face of karma to see their general thuggery rewarded with a long-awaited Super Bowl.

So, while actively rooting for one of these teams seems out of the question, which is the lesser of two evils?

The Eagles seem to be the easy answer because they’re huge underdogs; backup quarterback Nick Foles is playing historically well despite being the main reason why nobody gave this team a chance to advance in the playoffs; and a number of their players have served as the new face for the NFL players’ social awareness movement. Plus, there’s the whole never-having-won-a-Super-Bowl thing.

Meanwhile, the Patriots are hammering home the point that they’re the greatest dynasty in professional sports. Sure, the Boston Celtics won eight straight championships from 1959-1966 and the New York Yankees have won a pennant in every decade en route to a ridiculous 27 titles in their history. But given the degree of difficulty to achieve sustained success in the NFL, a sixth Super Bowl victory in 17 years will put the Pats ahead of two of the most annoyingly arrogant franchises in sports. Not to mention, the NFL will likely never see another run like New England’s again, so we have to eventually appreciate just how rare and special this organization is.

There’s really no right or wrong answer to which team is the lesser of two evils. The only thing we can reasonably root for is a good game that comes down to the final play — just like last season’s unprecedented overtime thriller.

For those who don’t want to succumb to the dark side, anyway.

Rob Woodfork

Rob Woodfork is WTOP's Senior Sports Content Producer, which includes duties as producer and host of the DC Sports Huddle, nightside sports anchor and sports columnist on

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