- Jamie Squire/Getty
- 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.
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.
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.