Patriots look to hit high note as band breaks up

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - The New England Patriots band will break up after Super Bowl and they have every intention of going out on a high note when they take on the underdog Philadelphia Eagles in Sunday's National Football League championship game.

Playing in their third Super Bowl in four years the Patriots success could be their dynasty's demise with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive mastermind Matt Patricia poised to move to the head coaching ranks soon after the Vince Lombardi trophy is hoisted.

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Patriots assistant coaches Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia
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Patriots assistant coaches Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots gets a Gatorade shower as he celebrates with eefensive coordinator Matt Patricia and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels near the end of the game against the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 12: Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels talk in the second quarter against the Denver Broncos. The Denver Broncos hosted the New England Patriots at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado on Sunday, November 12, 2017. (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 25, 2017: Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels of the New England Patriots makes a play call from the sideline in the first quarter of a preseason game on August 25, 2017 against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. New England won 30-28. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JULY 29: New England Patriots offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels waves to the fans during New England Patriots training camp on July 29, 2017, at the Patriots Practice Facility in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 26: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels before a game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on November 26, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, NY - DECEMBER 24: New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels walks the sidelines during a National Football League game between the between the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots on December 24, 2017, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA. (Photo by Icon Sportswire)
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 12: New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia watches a play during a game between the Denver Broncos and the visiting New England Patriots on November 12, 2017 at Sports Authority Field in Denver, CO (Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 24: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady talks to Matt Patricia (defensive coordinator) before they play the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Dec. 24, 2017. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 11: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and offensive coordinator Matt Patricia talk prior to their game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on December 11, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 25, 2017: Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia of the New England Patriots converses with linebackers coach Brian Flores prior to a preseason game on August 25, 2017 against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. New England won 30-28. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JULY 26: New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia speaks to the media at the start of training camp at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., July 26, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
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The three pillars of the Patriots empire, quarterback Tom Brady, coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft, remain in place but even there cracks in the foundation have begun to appear with an ESPN report this month detailing dissension at the top of the New England ranks.

The Patriots, however, have rarely been distracted from their objective. Even the Deflategate scandal that swirled around the team in 2015 could not cause them to lose focus as they beat the Seattle Seahawks to be crowned champions.

"We prepare for all situations that we can going into a game," Belichick told reporters. "We have a game plan, as the game unfolds then we'll adjust as we go.

"Every game is different, every team's different, every situation is a little bit different so we'll just do what we normally do."

Normally that means winning championships.

Brady and Belichick have teamed up to win five Super Bowls, including two in the last three years and another on Sunday would tie them with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most by any franchise.

Number six will once again hinge on the arm and play of their evergreen 40-year-old quarterback, who has faced as many questions about retirement during Super Bowl week as he has about the Eagles pass rush.

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Tom Brady and Bill Belichick through the years
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Tom Brady and Bill Belichick through the years
CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 18: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick holds a sideline meeting with quarterbacks Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe during the fourth quarter of Saturday's NFL preseason game with the Carolina Panthers played in Charlotte. (Photo by John Bohn/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, UNITED STATES: New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady celebrates with head coach Bill Belichick (R) after their win over the St. Louis Rams 03 February, 2002 in Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Patriots defeated the Rams 20-17 for the NFL championship. AFP PHOTO/Jeff HAYNES (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)
Head coach Bill Belichick and the coaching staff give frantic last second instructions to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during the final drive of the game vs. the Chicago Bears 11/10/2002. Brady went on to throw a 20 yd. touchdown pass to wide receiver David Patten to beat the Bears 33-30.� Don Lansu. (Photo by Don Lansu/Getty Images)
NFL Football - New England Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady against Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Championship at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Penn., on Jan. 25, 2005. Patriots won 41-27. (Photo by Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, UNITED STATES: Head coach Bill Belichick (L) of the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady (R) talk 06 February 2005 after winning the Super Bowl XXXIX at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida. The Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 to win their second straight Super Bowl and third in four years. AFP PHOTO/Jeff HAYNES (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick celebrate after 24-21 victory over the San Diego Chargers in AFC Divisional Playoff game at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif. on Sunday, January 14, 2007. (Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH - OCTOBER 20: During the Patriots practice on the practice field at Gillette Stadium, coach Bill Belichick (left) talks with Tom Brady. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 22: New England Patriots' coach Bill Belichick hugs Tom Brady (#12) after winning the game against Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - SEPTEMBER 30: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick applauded New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (#12) after Brady's touchdown pass to New England Patriots wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (#85) in the fourth quarter as the Patriots took on the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22: Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots confers with Tom Brady #12 during a time out in the 2nd half in a game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
PEBBLE BEACH, CA - FEBRUARY 07: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hits a tee shot on the 13th hole as New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on during the second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club on February 7, 2014 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 14: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick share a moment as the final seconds tick off the clock in their victory, which gave them their 6th straight AFC East title. The New England Patriots hosted the Miami Dolphins in a regular season NFL game at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with head coach Bill Belichick after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12, team owner Robert Kraft, and head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots celebrate with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 to win Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 13: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws the first pitch before the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Nationals as New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on from left at Fenway Park on April 13, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - OCTOBER 25: With only three days off between games, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (rear) and head coach Bill Belichick (front) will have very little time to get ready for Thursday night's game against the Dolphins. Here they are pictured on the sidelines during Sunday's game against the New York Jets in a regular season NFL football game at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 13: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts with head coach Bill Belichick during the fourth quarter of a game against the Seattle Seahawks at Gillette Stadium on November 13, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 30: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and Tom Brady #12 stand onstage during Super Bowl 51 Opening Night at Minute Maid Park on January 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Tom Brady #12 and head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots celebrate a 34-28 overtime win against the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
BOSTON - FEBRUARY 7: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady raises a Lombardi Trophy during the rally in City Hall Plaza following the Patriots Super Bowl LI Victory Parade in Boston on Feb. 7, 2017. Head coach Bill Belichick is behind him. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 31: Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and Tom Brady #12 chat before a preseason game with the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium on August 31, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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NO GOOD REASON

Statistically, there certainly would seem no good reason for Brady to hang up the cleats.

He led the NFL in passing yards this season with 4,577 while his 32 touchdown passes ranked third.

For those looking for a sign of decline there has been none.

He has his team back in the Super Bowl for the third time in four years and has had the type of season that has once again placed him in the most valuable player conversation.

Brady could be without his favorite target in tight end Rob Gronkowski, who remains under concussion protocol, but will have plenty of weapons at his disposal including Danny Amendola, who had two touchdown grab catches in their comeback win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game.

The Patriots and Eagles have met once before in the Super Bowl, in 2005 when New England beat Philadelphia 24-21 and Brady will be the only player from either team on the field on Sunday who took part in that game.

Since then New England has been back to the Super Bowl four times, winning it twice. Philadelphia has been back once.

The Eagles have made it to their third Super Bowl despite losing number one quarterback Carson Wentz to a knee injury in Week 14 after leading his team to a 10-2 record.

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Carson Wentz tears ACL against Rams
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Carson Wentz tears ACL against Rams
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 10: Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles is hit by Mark Barron #26 of the Los Angeles Rams during the third quarter of the game. Wentz was later escorted off the field due to a knee injury at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 10: Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles is hit by Mark Barron #26 of the Los Angeles Rams during the third quarter of the game. Wentz was later escorted off the field due to a knee injury at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 10: Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles is hit by Mark Barron #26 of the Los Angeles Rams during the third quarter of the game. Wentz was later escorted off the field due to a knee injury at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 10: Quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles adjusts his helmet after being hit against the Los Angeles Rams during the second quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. The Eagles defeated the Rams 43-35. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 10: Quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles is escorted off the field after injuring his knee at the end of the third quarter during the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 10: Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles is escorted off the field at the end of the third quarter during the game against the Los Angeles Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 10: Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles is escorted off the field at the end of the third quarter during the game against the Los Angeles Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 10: Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles is escorted off the field at the end of the third quarter during the game against the Los Angeles Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 10: Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles is escorted off the field at the end of the third quarter during the game against the Los Angeles Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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The loss looked a devastating blow to the city's hopes of celebrating a first Super Bowl title but back-up Nick Foles has stepped up, leading Philadelphia to playoff wins over the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings.

The key to victory for Philadelphia will be the play of their defensive line, which is among the league's best, and putting pressure on Brady.

The Eagles will give the Patriots the respect they have earned and deserve but will not be intimidated.

"All I can tell you is, we're coming home with that trophy," Philadelphia wide receiver Alshon Jeffery said.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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