NFL final four is David and David and David v. Goliath

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Every Wednesday, Dan Hanzus combs through the expert findings of the NFL Media Research Department to share nuggets (also known as "nugs") that fascinate, frighten or change him on a fundamental level. This is the Championship Week edition of High-Flying Adventures In The Research Notes.

THE PATS ARE A DIFFERENT LIFEFORM THAN THE OTHER REMAINING PLAYOFF TEAMS

The Patriots are the perfect foil for Championship Weekend, aren't they? Here we have the most successful franchise in modern football history, and the only thing standing in the way of a record-tying sixth Super Bowl title are three organizations with no ties to a Lombardi Trophy. Tom Brady -- widely regarded as the best quarterback in league history -- exists in a Connect Four with Nick Foles, Case Keenum and Blake Bortles. It's David and David and David vs. Goliath.

If you're sick of watching the Patriots on this stage, what could be better than one of these underdogs sending them home? Sports aren't as fun when they're predictable. Look at the NBA, which has yet to recover (in a competition sense) from the Warriors and Kevin Durant getting in bed together. If the Pats win again, it will be impressive, sure, just like we'll all praise the Warriors when they hoist another O'Brien trophy in June.

But fun? Fun is someone knocking New England from their Throne of Ease. The fact that it seems so unlikely right now makes the thought of that reality all the more exciting. The Jags get the first crack.

THE JAGUARS DEFENSE IS ABOUT TO FACE THEIR GREATEST TEST

Of course, dreams, wishes and fairytales are all well and good, but it's best not to disconnect from reality here. On paper, the Patriots have a great chance of winning another Super Bowl. And there's a very good chance all the people currently talking themselves into the Jaguars winning on the road in Foxborough are going to look very stupid by Sunday night.

The Jaguars are young and talented and have an obscene level of machismo. Perhaps the newness of this stage will play to their favor. But Brady has been doing this for decades now. Tom Brady devours upstarts like the responsible portion of kale salad he throws back for lunch. And as you see above, your stats won't save you here. This is The Crucible. And lest we forget that Jacksonville's vaunted D faltered badly against the Steelers last Sunday. The only reason they're still playing is that Pittsburgh's defense was, almost impossibly, worse.

If the Jaguars want to be more than a nice story, if they want to avoid being vaguely recalled as a footnote in another Patriots march to immortality, they'll have to be better on Sunday. Much better.

EAGLES MIGHT FIND A WAY IF THEY CAN CHASE CASE

Did Case Keenum's perfect ending against the Saints obscure a potentially fatal flaw in his game with the ferocious Eagles on deck? Keenum has had such a special year and we've long exited the window where it'd be fair to question whether he can keep it up. Still, the man is not beyond reproach. Putting heat on him could lead to a wild party at the Link -- a.k.a. the new Dog Pound.

Speaking of Keenum, I love this stat: With one more touchdown pass, Keenum will have as many touchdown passes (24) this season as he did in his entire career entering 2017. Sure, the Vikings have an incredible defense, but Case Keenum playing in the Super Bowl would be a Cinderella story of the decade.

THE EAGLES' OFFENSE REMAINS A MAJOR, MAJOR QUESTION MARK

These are all facts about the Eagles since Nick Foles replaced Carson Wentz at quarterback:

» Scored fewer than 20 points in three straight games
» Multiple turnovers in three straight games
» Held under 400 total yards on offense in four straight games
» Held under 100 rushing yards in three straight games

More ominous news for Iggles Nation: None of Foles' work has come against a defense that's ranked inside the top five units in the league. Now they get the Vikings, who rank -- yep -- No. 1.

The good news? Foles looked generally proficient last Saturday against the Falcons. Every football fan in America is now throwing around "RPO" (run-pass option) like it's been in their football vocabulary for decades. Given a week to prepare, you think Vikings coaches will have strategy to take away the safe throws that allowed Foles and the Eagles to survive the Divisional Round? Yeah, probably. Then what?

The Eagles rode their defense and a great atmosphere at home to a win last week. They'll need more than canine masks and the "Nobody Believes In Us!" card to get to the Super Bowl.

We'll be back Super Bowl week ...

Follow the NFL Media Research Group on Twitter at @NFLResearch. Follow Dan Hanzus, too.

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