The Philadelphia Eagles’ NFC championship game against Minnesota on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field is shaping up to be a “Dog Day Afternoon.”
Since the opening kickoff is scheduled for 6:40 p.m., make that early evening.
The Eagles are listed as 3.5-point underdogs against the Vikings. The team is encouraging fans to follow the lead of tackle Lane Johnson and defensive end Chris Long and wear dog masks to the game.
“Doggone it, you better believe dog masks will be allowed at (Lincoln Financial Field) this weekend,” the Eagles tweeted Monday. “Just make sure to take them off when you go through security.”
Johnson and Long wore German shepherd masks Saturday after the Eagles defeated Atlanta 15-10 in an NFC divisional-round playoff game. The Eagles were the first No. 1 seed to be underdogs in a home playoff game since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970.
Johnson told PennLive.com on Saturday they bought the masks on Amazon.
“We were talking at lunch one day, and we thought it’d be a cool idea, really funny,” Johnson said. “We were the underdogs. I don’t know if that’s what an underdog looks like, though.”
Fans who want the same mask for Sunday’s game may be out of luck, however.
According to Amazon.com, the CreepyParty Novelty Halloween Party Latex mask Animal Dog Head Mask German shepherd (Silent), which sells for $39.99, is not available until at least Jan. 22, one day after the game.
They will either need to pick another breed or perhaps visit a local costume store. And they might want to bring an extra one for Eagles coach Doug Pederson.
“I guess I’m gonna have to wear a dog mask,” Pederson said Monday during his weekly appearance on sports radio station 94.1 WIP.
The win over the Falcons continued a streak of playoff upsets for the Eagles. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Eagles are 4-0 as home underdogs during the postseason in the Super Bowl era.
They upset Dallas 20-7 in the NFC championship game at Veterans Stadium during the 1980 season and beat Detroit 58-37 in a 1995 wild-card game at the Vet, Tampa Bay 21-7 in a wild-card game in 2000 at the Linc.
Next Sunday’s game against the Vikings will feature a number of intriguing story lines.
There are several connections among the quarterbacks.
Eagles starter Nick Foles and Vikings counterpart Case Keenum were teammates with the St. Louis Rams in 2015. Both are also tied to Sam Bradford. The Eagles traded Foles to the Rams in 2015 for Bradford, then traded Bradford to Minnesota a few days before the 2016 opener. Kennum replaced Bradford as the starter this year after Bradford suffered a knee injury.
Foles, who took over for injured Carson Wentz on Dec. 10, threw for 246 yards in the win over the Falcons. Keenum and wide receiver Stefon Diggs combined for a miraculous, 61-yard TD on the final play of Sunday’s 29-24 win over New Orleans.
“We got lucky, but we’ll take it,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I’m beginning to think this team might be destined.”
The Vikings are 0 for 4 in Super Bowls but haven’t played in one since the 1976 season. They are trying to become the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. This season’s game is Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
The Eagles are trying to reach the Super Bowl for the third time overall and the first time since the 2004 season, when they lost to New England 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Florida.
“Any time you get to this point of the season, you do want more because you’re on the doorstep of being one of those elite football teams,” Pederson said. “To have a lot of sort of people not having a lot of confidence in us and yet to find ways to win just makes it that much more special for this group, and they understand where we are.
“I’m sure Minnesota is the same way. They understand where they are, as well, and the things they’ve heard all season long, too.”