When the Seattle Seahawks officially locked up the top seed in the NFC and earned home field advantage throughout the playoffs, the first question everyone asked was who could possibly go into Seattle and do the unthinkable?
Which NFC team had the best chance of taking down the Seahawks and the 12th man?
Most people immediately look to the Carolina Panthers, one of the hottest teams in the league and the No. 2 seed in the conference. Others look to the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle's biggest rival and a team that can go toe-to-toe with the Seahawks physically.
However, everyone seems to be overlooking the team that is the true biggest threat to the Seahawks—the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles are playing their best football of the season and are rolling right into the playoffs after winning seven of their last eight games.
If the Seahawks want to keep their daunting 15-1 home record the last two seasons intact, there are a few reasons why they better hope they don't cross paths with the Eagles.
An improving defense that makes plays
The Eagles have a strong run defense and a play-making secondary. Despite ranking dead last in passing defense, allowing 290 yards per game, the Eagles are making up for it with 31 takeaways, good for second in the league.
They are also continuing to get better in scoring defense, allowing 20 points per game over their last nine games. Takeaway the one hiccup against the Minnesota Vikings and that number drops to 17 points per game, which would be third-best in the league.
The Eagles are not a shutdown defense, but led by Trent Cole, DeMeco Ryans and Brandon Boykin, they are certainly good enough to make a deep playoff run complementing an elite offense.
Nick Foles is playing at an all-time level
Is it possible for a player to be an elite game manager and still put up video game numbers, because Foles has done just that.
Some may take offense to calling someone playing as well as Foles a "game manager," but that is not a knock on him, merely a testament to how well he has controlled games.
Since taking over as the starter, Foles has led the Eagles to an 8-2 record with a ridiculous touchdown-interception ratio of 27-2. He has thrown for 2,891 yards and has a league-best passer rating of 119.2.
He has done all this despite attempting over 30 passes just three times and throwing over 35 passes just once.
In comparison, Alex Smith—someone who has been known to be a game-manager—has thrown less than 30 passes just four times and less than 35 passes seven times.
Foles has simply been a remarkably efficient quarterback this year, doing a great job of letting the running game carry the load and picking apart the defenses when they over-commit to stopping the run.
The quickest way to let a game get away from you when you're playing in Seattle is to turn the ball over and Foles has proven to be the best in the league this season at taking care of it.
LeSean McCoy is a superstar
Thriving in Chip Kelly's system, LeSean McCoy put up the best season for any Eagles running back in history, breaking the franchise single season rushing record with 1,607 yards on the ground.
Add in his receiving totals and he was one of just two backs to top 2,000 yards (2,146 to be exact), with the other being Jamaal Charles.
Every time McCoy touched the ball he was capable of turning it into a big play. He scored 11 total touchdowns (nine rushing) and was the bell cow for the Eagles all season long.
It's no secret that being able to run the ball effectively opens up a lot of options in the passing game and McCoy has been one of the best in the league at doing just that this year.
The two closest games the Seahawks played at home this season came in an overtime win against the Buccaneers and a late season loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Those two teams combined for 344 yards on the ground.
If the Eagles are going to move the ball and put up points against the best defense in the league, it's going to be thanks to McCoy carrying the load and once again putting the team on his back.
Admittedly, this is all very forward thinking as the Eagles still have to beat two very tough teams just to get to the NFC Championship game where the Seahawks will likely be waiting.
However, with that said, if they are able to knock off the Saints and Panthers and head up to Seattle to take on the 12th man, we are looking at a game that would become an instant classic.
For Seahawks fans that are hoping for a parade after the season, the mentality throughout the playoffs should simply be "anyone but the Eagles."
Because if there is one team in the NFC that is going to derail the Seahawks' Super Bowl run, it's Chip Kelly, Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy and the Philadelphia Eagles.
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