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Flight searches suggest Philly fan invasion looming at Super Bowl

Flight searches suggest Philly fan invasion looming at Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is a bucket list item for many sports fans. But if your team is making it to the big game year after year, does that allure of a big, expensive trip to cheer on your squad wear off? Or does any one fan want to blow thousands of dollars on a trip to the big game more than once in their lifetime? Maybe twice?

That line of thinking would suggest that there would be less demand for New England Patriots fans to travel to Minnesota this season than the demand for Philadelphia Eagles fans to travel out to the frigid Midwest.

Tom Brady isn't the only one who has been there before. Patriots fans have also been there.

And you know what? There is data to suggest the above hypothesis to be true.

Airfare Watchdog says searches last week indicate a significantly higher desire for Philly fans to travel to Minneapolis than for New England fans to do the same.

"Fare searches (search period: 1/21-1/26) from PHL (Philadelphia) to MSP (Minnesota) are up nearly 416% from this time last year, while searches from BOS (Boston) are only up 96% from last year for the same time period," they say.

And the day of the conference championship data is even more pro-Philly: "Fare searches on January 21st 2018 (the day the two final competitors were decided) from PHL to MSP were up 705% from that date last year, versus the 198% increase we saw from BOS to MSP."

Searches are obviously not tickets sold, but the difference is still clear.

We also reached out to Jess Lawrence of secondary ticket market website TicketIQ, who said traffic to their website is "5:1 Eagles:Patriots."

Tickets on the Eagles' side of the field are currently more expensive than elsewhere.

"My advice for Eagles fans who want the best possible deal is to not worry about what side they're on, as this is shaping up to be Broad Street North."

Birds fans of a certain age likely remember the sea of green that seemingly took over Jacksonville the last time these two teams met in the Super Bowl back in 2005. It appears as if 2018 is shaping up similarly, with a different outcome to the big game of course.

Eagles releasing Mychal Kendricks the right thing to do

Eagles releasing Mychal Kendricks the right thing to do

For the past two years, the Eagles kept Mychal Kendricks in a state of limbo. It was about time the team set him free.

The Eagles didn’t release Kendricks on Tuesday simply because it was “the right thing to do” — if there was such a thing in this instance. They did it because the move will save $6 million against the salary cap in 2018. They did it because Corey Nelson is a cheaper alternative. They did it because Kendricks isn’t an ideal fit for Jim Schwartz’s scheme. They did it because, evidently, they couldn’t find a trade partner.

In short, the Eagles released Kendricks because the 27-year-old linebacker wasn’t worth $16-plus million over the next two seasons. That really should be enough.

It was also about time the Eagles put Kendricks out of his misery. He made no secret about being unhappy with his reduced role since Schwartz became defensive coordinator, asking the team to either cut him or move him last offseason. The subject of trade rumors annually since 2015, Kendricks probably hadn’t felt comfortable about his standing with the organization for quite awhile.

At what point are the Eagles holding him hostage?

Good thing the club didn’t oblige Kendricks’ request last year, as he wound up filling in for the injured Jordan Hicks and playing a pivotal part in the Eagles’ Super Bowl run. Some see that as evidence the team made a mistake in letting a six-year veteran with 78 career NFL starts to walk away for nothing.

While it’s true Kendricks came up big in 2017, he wasn’t exactly an impact player for the Eagles, finishing the season with four tackles for loss and two sacks in 18 games, including playoffs. He hasn’t forced a fumble since 2015. He hasn’t recorded an interception since 2013. And rushing the passer, arguably his greatest strength, goes almost completely unutilized in Schwartz’s scheme, which sent Kendricks after opposing quarterbacks just eight times all year, according to Pro Football Focus.

Numbers may not do Kendricks’ campaign justice, but typically more would be expected of somebody who was set to carry a $7.6 million cap figure into ’18.

The Eagles also feel they are in better shape now in terms of depth at the position (see story).

Kendricks’ days appeared to be numbered the moment the club signed Nelson and the free-agent addition declared he would compete for the starting weakside linebacker job. It’s unclear whether the Eagles are putting too much faith in the former Denver Broncos reserve and the host of linebacker prospects already on the roster. Regardless, the team likes its options.

So why force Kendricks to stick around? From the team’s standpoint, it was a lot of money for the level of production, for not being a great scheme fit and given his impending return to the bench. The Eagles were wise to keep him around for one more year, but with other arrangements since made, moving on now doesn’t sting as much.

The fact Kendricks was anything less than thrilled to be back only makes it easier. After handling his displeasure like a pro last season, then helping the Eagles win their first Super Bowl championship, granting his release seems like the least the team could do.

Joel Embiid takes shot at Aron Baynes on Twitter

Joel Embiid takes shot at Aron Baynes on Twitter

With the Sixers eliminated, Joel Embiid was asked at his end-of-the-season press conference if he had a prediction for which remaining team would win the NBA championship.

His response was short and simple.

"Nah," he said, "I don't care."

However, Embiid looks like he's still keeping some tabs on the NBA postseason.

And, watching from afar, he's apparently not too impressed with Aron Baynes.

If you recall, during the Eastern Conference semifinals series in which the Sixers fell to the Celtics in five games, Embiid and Baynes had their moments.

Lots of physicality. A few minor scuffles. And this monster dunk by Embiid.

That's probably what the Sixers' big man was referring to when he tweeted Monday night during Game 4 of the Cavaliers-Celtics series.

Could this play have prompted the tweet?

Baynes probably isn't focused on Embiid or Twitter right now in the heat of the Eastern Conference Finals, but maybe he'll be asked about the tweet during media availability sessions before the series goes to Game 5 Wednesday.

The 31-year-old from New Zealand, a role player not known for tons of offense but with a championship ring, can become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. We'll have to see where he plays next season, but let's hope some matchups with Embiid are in the near future.