Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Rodney Dangerfields of the NFL

The Rodney Dangerfields of the NFL went back to practice yesterday.

That's right, your Philadelphia Eagles are not getting much respect these days.

Without potential MVP candidate quarterback Carson Wentz, they limped into the playoffs with Nick Foles at the helm of the offense.

Do you think the Vegas oddsmakers watched any of those last two regular season games?

Maybe that's why they knocked the Birds, who now have the dubious distinction of being the first team in history to enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed, and yet being listed as an underdog at home.

The game opened in Vegas with the Falcons listed as a 3-point favorite. It went down to 2.5 and is holding steady.

The Eagles - in particular head coach Doug Pederson - seem more than a bit peeved by this distinction. Pederson gave a series of short, clipped answers at his Tuesday press briefing.

Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe the Birds can parlay that massive chip on their shoulder into a rallying cry.

People have doubted them all season.

But make not mistake, this is not the same team that sprinted to a 13-3 mark, best in the NFL.

It's pretty simple really. Nick Foles is not Carson Wentz.

So of course all the experts and fans are saying that the Eagles should merely load up on the run, feed Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount and play smash-mouth football, literally trying to run the ball down the Falcons' throats.

But everyone else knows this, too.

The Falcons No. 1 objective in this game is to stop the Eagles' ground game and force Nick Foles to beat them.

It comes down to Nick Foles vs. Matt Ryan.

If the Eagles win, it will be because Foles outplayed the Exton native.

If they lose, it likely will simply be the reverse.

I remain hopeful that the weather iced Foles these past two weeks. That won't be an issue Saturday. It should be in the 40s by kickoff at the Linc.

The fan in me desperately wants Foles to play well and the Birds to post a big win.

The realist in me tells me otherwise.

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