The 2 surprising quarterbacks on the brink of the Super Bowl had a bizarre and intertwined path to starting the NFC title game

  • Case Keenum and Nick Foles will square off at quarterback when the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles play in the NFC Championship on Sunday.
  • Keenum's and Foles' paths are bizarrely intertwined, beginning in 2015 when they played for the St. Louis Rams before going their separate ways.
  • Now, because of injuries, both players are the surprise starters for their teams and playing well.


At the start of the 2017 NFL season, few could have predicted that Case Keenum and Nick Foles would be starting for the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game.

When the two quarterbacks face off on Sunday, they may have a laugh at the respective paths that got them to the brink of a Super Bowl.

In 2015, the then-St. Louis Rams traded Sam Bradford to the Philadelphia Eagles for Nick Foles, a second-round pick, and future fourth-round pick. While Foles became the Rams' starter, Case Keenum became the No. 2 quarterback after he was re-acquired in a trade with the Houston Texans, and ended up starting five games after Foles struggled.

Related: See the Eagles' victory over the Falcons: 

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Eagles vs. Falcons NFC divisional playoff game
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Eagles vs. Falcons NFC divisional playoff game
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 13: Cornerback Jalen Mills #31 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates after defeating the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 13, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Atlanta Falcons with a score of 15 to 10. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 13: Defensive end Brandon Graham #55 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts against the Atlanta Falcons during the fourth quarter in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 13, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles won 15-10. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 13: Wide receiver Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons attempts to make a catch against cornerback Ronald Darby #41 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the fourth quarter in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 13, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 13: Wide receiver Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons catches a first-down pass as he is tackled by cornerback Ronald Darby #41 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 13, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 13: Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons looks to pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 13, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 13: Outside linebacker Nigel Bradham #53 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates with teammate defensive end Derek Barnett #96 after sacking quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons during the third quarter in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 13, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 13: Running back LeGarrette Blount #29 of the Philadelphia Eagles is tackled as he runs the ball against the Atlanta Falcons in the second quarter in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 13, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 13: Zach Ertz #86 of the Philadelphia Eagles misses a pass against the Atlanta Falcons during the second quarter in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 13, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 13: Brent Celek #87 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates after Jake Elliott #4 kicked a 53 yard field goal against the Atlanta Falcons during the second quarter in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 13, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 13: Cornerback Jalen Mills #31 and defensive back Randall Goforth #36 of the Philadelphia Eagles take a knee in the endzone before playing against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 13, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 13: Injured Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles talks with teammate Trey Burton #88 prior to the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field on January 13, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 13: Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons makes a call while playing against the Philadelphia Eagles in the first quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 13, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 13: Running back Tevin Coleman #26 of the Atlanta Falcons runs the ball against cornerback Jalen Mills #31 and defensive end Brandon Graham #55 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 13, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 13: Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons throws a pass against the Philadelphia Eagles in the first quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 13, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Bradford struggled in Philadelphia, too, and before the 2016 draft, the Eagles made a big trade to acquire the second overall pick, which they used on Carson Wentz.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater badly injured his knee in training camp, prompting the Vikings to send a first-round pick to the Eagles for Bradford. Wentz became the starter in Philadelphia.

The Rams, meanwhile, used the No. 1 pick (which they acquired from the Tennessee Titans in a massive trade) on Jared Goff. Keenum started the first nine games of the season before eventually being benched for Goff.

Fast forward to 2017, and the Vikings re-signed Bradford while the Eagles signed Foles in free agency to be their backup. Keenum, a free agent, signed with the Vikings, becoming the No. 2 quarterback behind Bradford while Bridgewater continued to rehab from his knee injury.

Bradford ended up getting hurt after the Vikings' first game game, and only made one other start the rest of the season, turning the keys over to Keenum. Keenum played so well as the starter — thanks to the help of VR — that the Vikings didn't go back to Bridgewater when he was finally healthy. Keenum became their guy.

Related: See the Vikings' miraculous win against New Orleans: 

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Minnesota Vikings beat New Orleans Saints on miracle play
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Minnesota Vikings beat New Orleans Saints on miracle play
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14: Stefon Diggs #14 of the Minnesota Vikings jumps to make a catch over Marcus Williams #43 of the New Orleans Saints as Jarius Wright #17 of the Minnesota Vikings and Ken Crawley #20 of the New Orleans Saints look on during the second half of the NFC Divisional Playoff game on January 14, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Diggs scored a touchdown on the play (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14: Stefon Diggs #14 of the Minnesota Vikings leaps to catch the ball in the fourth quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the New Orleans Saints on January 14, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Diggs scored a 61-yard touchdown to win the game 29-24. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14: Stefon Diggs #14 of the Minnesota Vikings leaps to catch the ball in the fourth quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the New Orleans Saints on January 14, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Diggs scored a 61-yard touchdown to win the game 29-24. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14: Stefon Diggs #14 of the Minnesota Vikings scores a touchdown as time expires against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of the NFC Divisional Playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium on January 14, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14: Stefon Diggs #14 of the Minnesota Vikings runs with the ball to score a touchdown as time expired in the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the New Orleans Saints on January 14, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Saints 29-24. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14: Stefon Diggs #14 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates after scoring a touchdown to defeat the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium on January 14, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14: Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) catches his balance after beating coverage to score the game winning touchdown as time expired during a NFC Divisional Playoff game between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints on January 14, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. The Vikings defeated the Saints 29-24 to advance to the NFC Championship Game.(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14: Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) celebrates his game winning touchdown during a NFC Divisional Playoff game between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints on January 14, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. The Vikings defeated the Saints 29-24 to advance to the NFC Championship Game.(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14: Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) gets emotional after scoring the game winning touchdown as time expired after a NFC Divisional Playoff game between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints on January 14, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. The Vikings defeated the Saints 29-24 to advance to the NFC Championship Game.(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14: Stefon Diggs #14 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates after defeating the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium on January 14, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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And in Philadelphia, Wentz tore his ACL in Week 14, making Foles the Eagles starter for the remainder of the season.

In the NFC divisional round this past weekend, Foles helped the Eagles scrape by the Atlanta Falcons in a defensive battle, while Keenum helped orchestrate a miracle touchdown in Minnesota to beat the New Orleans Saints.

While the circumstances that got both Keenum and Foles to the NFC championship are slightly different, both surprise quarterbacks need just one more good game to get to the Super Bowl.

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