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NFC Championship Game preview: Vikings vs. Eagles

Eagles defensive end Chris Long celebrates by wearing

Eagles defensive end Chris Long celebrates by wearing a dog mask after his team's 15-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 13, 2018 in Philadelphia. Credit: Getty Images / Al Bello

NFC Championship

Vikings (14-3) at Eagles (14-3), 6:40 p.m.

TV: Ch. 5; Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9)

What started as a statement by two Eagles players has turned into a movement, and it could create the most bizarre atmosphere ever for an NFC Championship Game. Thousands of fans are expected to show up at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday to root for the hometown Eagles while wearing dog masks.

Yes, Philadelphia is officially off the leash for its Eagles.

It began with Lane Johnson and Chris Long pulling out their latex German shepherd headgear after the win over the Falcons last week to poke fun at everyone who considered the Eagles the underdog, and has since avalanched to the point that those masks can’t be found anywhere. They’re sold out on Amazon and can only be purchased on back order to arrive in mid-February.

The Eagles, meanwhile, have embraced the phenomenon — especially since they are the underdogs once again while hosting the Vikings. The team tweeted a reminder this week that fans are allowed to wear their masks to the game (so long as they are removed while passing through security).

“Man, I can’t wait to see how crazy Philly fans dress those masks up,” Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills said this week.

The Linc is already known for its ribald fans and intense homefield advantage. Now that it’s about to become a dog park, too, Sunday might just be its zenith of zaniness.

“Oh man, I can only imagine (the atmosphere on Sunday) because last week it exceeded my expectations and it’s only going to get even better,” DE Brandon Graham said. “I know it’s going to be electric.”

Jenkins welcomes new daughter

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins became a father for the second time when his daughter was born earlier this week. It created a bit of a ripple in his preparation for the NFC Championship game with him spending two nights at the hospital.

“It’s been pretty much on par for the rest of the year,” Jenkins said of having to juggle various matters. “Obviously this is an exciting time for not only me but my family. Now that everybody’s home, my focus is on the game . . . It’s been a good week for me. Hopefully it ends well too.”

Recalling Giants’ Super Bowl win

Linval Joseph is the only member of the Vikings roster to have played in and won a Super Bowl. He did it six years ago with the Giants, and it’s a memory he cherishes.

“I was talking to JPP (the other) night about winning it,” he told reporters this week regarding a conversation with Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul. “It was a big thrill. I’m just excited to have another opportunity to hopefully make it there.”

If the Vikings win on Sunday, they will. And Joseph, the Pro Bowl defensive tackle, figures to play a large role in that determination. As the key to the Vikings defensive front, he’ll be one of the key players on the field.

Joseph said he likes the Vikings’ chances.

“I think we have a great opportunity and a great chance,” he said. “We have a great team here . . . We’re young, we’re hungry, and we want it right now.”

HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE?

If the Vikings win, they will become the first team to play in a Super Bowl in their home stadium and just the fifth to play in a Super Bowl in their home state. Only one of those “home” teams won. The four Super Bowls played in one of the participants’ home state (all California):

Super Bowl ... Date ... Winner ... Loser ... Site

XI ... Jan. 9, 1977 ... Oakland ... Minnesota ... Pasadena, Calif.

XIV ... Jan. 20, 1980 ... Pittsburgh ... LA Rams ... Pasadena, Calif.

XIX ... Jan. 20, 1985 ... San Francisco ... Miami... Palo Alto, Calif.

XXXVII ... Jan. 26, 2003 ... Tampa Bay ... Oakland ... San Diego, Calif.

Numbers that matter

4: Quarterbacks who have recorded a passer rating of at least 100 in each of their first three postseason starts. Nick Foles, who had a rating of 100.1 against the Falcons last week, can join them if he has a triple-digit rating on Sunday. The others who have accomplished the feat: Troy Aikman (5), Aaron Rodgers (3), Tony Eason (3) and Joe Theismann (3).

13-13: The all-time record in games, including the postseason, between the Eagles and Vikings. The Eagles, however, have won all three of the playoff meetings including the last on Jan. 4, 2009.

3: Eagles with at least eight TD receptions. Alshon Jeffery had nine, while Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz each had eight. They are the only trio of teammates in the NFL to each have at least eight TDs.

13-13

The all-time record, including the postseason, between the Eagles and Vikings. The Eagles, however, have won all three of the playoff meetings including the last on Jan. 4, 2009.

Recalling Giants’ Super Bowl win

Linval Joseph is the only member of the Vikings roster to have played in and won a Super Bowl. He did it six years ago with the Giants, and it’s a memory he cherishes.

“I was talking to JPP [the other] night about winning it,” he told reporters this week regarding a conversation with Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul. “It was a big thrill. I’m just excited to have another opportunity to hopefully make it there.”

If the Vikings win on Sunday, they will. And Joseph, the Pro Bowl defensive tackle, figures to play a large role in that determination. As the key to the Vikings defensive front, he’ll be one of the key players on the field.

Joseph said he likes the Vikings’ chances.

“I think we have a great opportunity and a great chance,” he said. “We have a great team here . . . We’re young, we’re hungry, and we want it right now.”

Jenkins welcomes new daughter

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins became a father for the second time when his daughter was born earlier this week. It created a bit of a ripple in his preparation for the NFC Championship game with him spending two nights at the hospital.

“It’s been pretty much on par for the rest of the year,” Jenkins said of having to juggle various matters. “Obviously this is an exciting time for not only me but my family. Now that everybody’s home, my focus is on the game . . . It’s been a good week for me. Hopefully it ends well too.”

HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE?

If the Vikings win, they will become the first team to play in a Super Bowl in their home stadium and just the fifth to play in a Super Bowl in their home state. Only one of those “home” teams won. The four Super Bowls played in one of the participants’ home state (all California):

Super Bowl ... Date ... Winner ... Loser ... Site

XI ... Jan. 9, 1977 ... Oakland ... Minnesota ... Pasadena, Calif.

XIV ... Jan. 20, 1980 ... Pittsburgh ... LA Rams ... Pasadena, Calif.

XIX ... Jan. 20, 1985 ... San Francisco ... Miami ... Palo Alto, Calif.

XXXVII ... Jan. 26, 2003 ... Tampa Bay ... Oakland ... San Diego, Calif.

Numbers that matter

4: Quarterbacks who have recorded a passer rating of at least 100 in each of their first three postseason starts. Nick Foles, who had a rating of 100.1 against the Falcons last week, can join them if he has a triple-digit rating on Sunday. The others who have accomplished the feat: Troy Aikman (5), Aaron Rodgers (3), Tony Eason (3) and Joe Theismann (3).

3: Eagles with at least eight TD receptions. Alshon Jeffery had nine, while Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz each had eight. They are the only trio of teammates in the NFL to each have at least eight TDs.

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