Despite a perceived lack of funds, the Eagles have been very active this offseason. For the 2017 season it looks like the Wentz wagon has been upgraded. A string of one-year deals allowed the birds to get new wheels, a better sound system, and even fix the air conditioner that was never quite cool enough. So why, despite the upgrades, is everyone still convinced it would be impossible for the souped-up wagon to make the drive to Minneapolis for Super Bowl LII?
I won’t lie, each year I drink the kool aid. A lot of it. As soon as the season is over, I wait for next season’s schedule to come out and like most fans I pencil in the Ws. Most years, I have the Eagles at a comfortable 10-11 wins before anyone even touches a football. This year is no different. I won’t bore you with the week-to-week breakdown, but I will give you 3 reasons why you shouldn’t count the birds out this year:
Doug’s 3 Reasons the Eagles Can Beat the Odds:
- One of the easiest taglines most analysts hand their hat on is that defense wins championships. I won’t argue that there was a time that was true, but if you look at just the last 3 Super Bowls only one team, the Denver Broncos, won on the back of their strong defense in Super Bowl 50. In Super Bowl 49 the Patriots hung 28 points on that years #1 defense the Seattle Seahawks. And, this year despite having a top 10 defense the Patriots allowed the Atlanta Falcons to jump out to a 28-3 lead well into the 3rd quarter. Ultimately, I think it would be more accurate to say ‘defense offers you a better shot at the playoffs,’ but that doesn’t sound as cool.
If you want to win a championship you need a defense that can bend but not break and an offense that can score. With the additions the Eagles made this offseason and some stability on the offensive line, scoring should not be a problem. Add to that, over 16 regular season games the Atlanta Falcons gave up an average of 25 points per game. Over that same span, sporting a frustrating defensive performance, the Eagles gave up on average about 21 points per game. So statistically (based on the statistic that supports my argument) the Eagles had a better defense than the Falcons.
The Eagles defense didn’t take a major hit this off season, and sure the defensive backs are suspect and the linebackers are thin, but it’s not golf. The lowest score doesn’t win it’s the highest. There are touchdowns to be scored and an improved offense will make that happen.
- I see some instability in the rest of the division that could play into the Eagles favor. The Cowboys still have Dak and ‘Zeke, but depth on their vaunted offensive line is starting to run thin. Even the smallest crack will give the Eagles a more competitive shot. In Washington, the front office is a mess. They lost Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon in free agency. They filled that gap with Terrelle Pryor and the hope that Josh Doctson will produce coming off an Achilles injury. Aside from Brandon Marshall the Giants didn’t make a huge splash in free agency. Their running back situation continues to be murky and Eli is starting to show some mileage. Despite throwing fewer passes this past season there was an uptick in interceptions, a drop off in yards per attempt and 9 fewer touchdowns than the previous season.
The instability throughout the NFC East will allow the Eagles to stay in more of those games and hopefully improve the woeful 2-4 division record from 2016.
- Finally, the 2018 Super Bowl is in Minneapolis. The last time the Eagles were in the Super Bowl it was in Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville is a town loved only by Brian Dawkins and Ash Williams from the Evil Dead series. In terms of location, Minneapolis only a couple notches higher than Jacksonville. That probably has more to do with elevation than actual popularity. Logically, if the Eagles were to make it back to the Super Bowl it would probably be to a city like Minneapolis or Jacksonville as opposed to LA or Miami. This is Philly, we come home from a hard day’s work and just want to put our feet up. It doesn’t have to be flashy we just need a place to finish the job. Minneapolis is as good a place as any. We can visit Miami when we retire.
It may not be our year, but it doesn’t have to be over before it starts. Another thing in our favor is the parity that exists in the NFL. No other sport can boast the ‘any given Sunday’ mantra and mean it. Guaranteed contracts in the NBA force cities to lose in order to win. This allows 3 teams to dominate the entire league. No salary cap in Baseball let’s teams buy wins for years. And Hockey…yeah, I got nothing, I don’t watch hockey. The NFL balance of power is pretty fluid and means unlikely teams, like the Eagles, will always have a shot…This could be the year.