Eagles vs. Vikings: Nick Foles and Case Keenum's Long, Intertwined Road to the 2018 NFC Championship Game

Quarterback Case Keenum of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates as he walks off the field after the Vikings defeated the New Orleans Saints 29-24 to win the NFC divisional round playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium on January 14, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

At the start of the NFL season, did you predict a Case Keenum/Nick Foles matchup in the 2018 NFC Championship game? That's OK—no one else did, either.

The Philadelphia Eagles, quarterbacked by Foles, squeaked by the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday, 15-10. The following day, the Keenum-led Minnesota Vikings stunned the New Orleans Saints, 29-24, on a last-second a miracle pass.

🎥 #MinneapolisMiracle Sideline Cam#BringItHome pic.twitter.com/fRe9CZTlwt

— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) January 15, 2018

Both Keenum and Foles led their teams to hard-fought post-season victories—and both began the 2017-18 season as backups. But the overlap in their careers goes far deeper. They have had an almost impossibly intertwined road to Sunday's NFC Championship game. Here's a quick breakdown of how it happened.

  • In 2012, Foles was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the third round of the NFL Draft. Keenum was signed by the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent.
  • In 2013, Foles started for the Eagles and had a stand-out year under then-Philly coach Chip Kelly. Keenum got a shot under center after Houston's starter, Matt Schaub, got hurt.
  • In 2014, Keenum bounced between Houston and St. Louis. He was first waived by the Texans and signed by then-St. Louis Rams. He was then waived by the Rams and signed to their practice squad. By December 2014, Keenum was signed again by the Texans, this time off of the Rams' practice squad.
  • In 2015, the Rams traded for Keenum, sending a seventh-round pick to Houston. The Rams also traded with the Eagles for Foles that same offseason. They gave up quarterback Sam Bradford and fifth-round pick in exchange for Foles, a second-round pick and fourth-round pick.
  • Foles started nine games in 2015 for the Rams before being benched for Keenum.
  • In 2016 Foles, disgruntled with his situation with the Rams, signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. After trading up to draft Carson Wentz, the Eagles then traded Bradford to Minnesota for a first-round pick and a fourth-round pick.
  • After two seasons with the Rams, Keenum signed in the 2017 offseason with the Vikings, expected to backup Bradford and perhaps Teddy Bridgewater, who was recovering from a knee injury. Foles, meanwhile, left Kansas City and signed with the the team that drafted him, the Eagles.
  • Bradford began the 2017-18 season as Minnesota's starter, but a knee injury opened the door for Keenum to take over for much of the season. Wentz, meanwhile, led the Eagles to an 11-2 record and seemed like the favorite to win the MVP award before tearing his ACL in December against—who else?—the Rams. Foles stepped in as starter as Philadelphia geared up for the postseason.
  • Foles and Keenum both led their teams to victory this past weekend, setting up Sunday's matchup in the NFC Championship.

Now that it's Eagles-Vikings, I made a handy 2018 NFC Title Game QB flowchart. pic.twitter.com/U5UqPHti27

— Mitch Goldich 🐙 (@mitchgoldich) January 15, 2018

Eagles traded N. Foles to Rams for S. Bradford. Foles lost his job in St. Louis, C. Keenum takes over. Eagles draft C. Wentz and trade Bradford to Minn. Vikings sign Keenum, who replaces injured Bradford. Foles returns to Philly, replaces injured Wentz. Now, Foles vs. Keenum.

— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) January 15, 2018

So there it is: the long, weird road that got us to a quarterback-showdown very few saw coming. It took a lot of trades, signings and one miracle heave from Keenum on Sunday. But as Keenum told teammates before leading that comeback against the Saints, via the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, "You never know, you never know."