PHILADELPHIA ( - Much is made about the stage the Eagles will be on when they kick off Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.

In many ways Philadelphia will be facing two opponents: the AFC champion New England Patriots and the mystique Bill Belichick and Tom Brady bring to the dance as the most well-regarded coach/quarterback tandem in NFL history.

Eight Super Bowl appearances and five Lombardi Trophies, working on a sixth, are part of the mystique the Pats will bring to Minnesota as is a storied legacy that needs no embellishment but still gets it.

From Spygate to Deflategate to Peyton Manning standing outside in the halls of Gillette Stadium because he feared the locker room was bugged, the Patriots are often in the opposition's head before any game even starts.

And Eagles coach Doug Pederson seems to understand you can't get caught up in the hyperbole that surrounds the Patriots' unprecedented success.

"You just can't get caught up in what they do," the coach said at his Thursday press conference. "It's more about what we do in this game."

It's a practical position to take but one easier said than done.

As good as Mike Zimmer and Case Keenum were this season, it's easy to treat them like just another opponent but human nature can start playing tricks on anyone who sees Belichick and Brady on the horizon.

And getting away what got the Eagles to this point might be the biggest landmine the team faces leading up to the big game, something Pederson acknowledged.

"You know what if I make this all about them we are in trouble, honestly in trouble," the coach admitted. "Everything is going to be written about [the mystique]. Everything has been written about it, discussed, debated. It's about us and I'll keep saying that."

-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for You can reach him at or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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