I am already on record predicting the Eagles to win Super Bowl XLIV. Since that prediction, the Eagles have lost Jim Johnson, Stewart Bradley and Cornelius Ingram. They have added Michael Vick, and may be starting a rookie at free safety.
A rookie may be replacing Brian Dawkins.
So, naturally, I will not be cutting them an inch of slack. I will not be changing my prediction. Super Bowl or bust.
SI’s Don Banks disagrees. He thinks the Eagles will miss the playoffs. But he is a mook, who cares what he thinks?
I believe that the Eagles are a top five team. Here, in order, are the four teams I believe pose the greatest threat to the Eagles Super Bowl chances.
The Giants are not the best team in the NFL. But they may be the best team in the NFC, and they are in the same division as the Eagles, making them the biggest threat.
They have a great defense, a great running game and a Manning at quarterback. (Yeah, I know it's the wrong Manning, so what?) They have championship experience and know how to win. They will not have the Plaxico Burress issue distracting them this season.
In fact, I think that it is highly likely that they will win the division with the Eagles getting in as a wild card.
But the Giants have not beaten the Eagles in the playoffs since Bill Clinton was in office. The Eagles are 2-0 versus the Giants in the playoffs, having beaten them at the Linc in 2006 and in the Meadowlands last year. Since 2001, including the playoffs, the Eagles are 12-6 versus the Giants.
They also lost their defensive coordinator. All Pro DE Osi Umenyiora recently walked out of camp for a day because he felt that new defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan was disrespecting him. How long until Tom Coughlin goes off on somebody for showing up five minutes early for a meeting instead of ten minutes early?
The Giants are a great team. They may have a better regular season than the Eagles. But the Eagles will beat them in the playoffs. Again.
The defending champs are still the best team in football. They return intact, plus get Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall for the entire season. They should avoid the slow start they had last year. This is a ridiculously good football team.
They are well coached. They are battle tested, having won two of the last four Super Bowls. They have the most clutch quarterback in football not named Tom Brady, and an otherworldly great defense.
For some reason, the Eagles own them. The Birds are 46-27-3 all time versus the Steelers. They even won the only postseason meeting between the two. (OK, it was in 1947. I’m just sayin’.) They are 2-1 versus the Steelers since 2000.
I’m not saying the Eagles are better. I’m saying the Eagles can beat them. If they meet in Super Bowl XLIV, they will.
The most analyzed knee in the NFL is back to wreak havoc on the league. Tom Brady’s return makes the Patriots a Super Bowl threat.
Granted they have questions at running back, but they always have questions at running back. Laurence Maroney is listed as the starter, but BenJarvis Green-Ellis and Fred Taylor will see time there as well.
Brady’s knee was shredded less than 12 months ago, and as of now they have only undrafted rookie Brian Hoyer as a backup. They are rumored to be looking at AJ Feeley, but ESPN”S Adam Schefter reports that deal is unlikely to happen.
If Brady’s knee holds up, they will be dangerous. If not, they will be beatable. Either way, in the tougher AFC, they will be battered and bruised by the time they get to play the Eagles in the Super Bowl.
They have their usual ferocious defense, and Joe Flacco now has a year under his belt at QB. They are very well coached and well assembled by GM Ozzie Newsome. The offensive line may be one of the league’s best. Did I mention the defense? It’s pretty good.
But they have major questions at RB and WR. Derrick Mason changed his mind about retirement, but one has to wonder how enthusiastic he’ll be by, say, week eight. The defense is good enough to win a lot of games by itself, but can that propel them to the Super Bowl? They did it before in 2000, but this defense is not as good as that one, which was arguably the best ever.
This offense is better than that one also. Do they have enough to get by the Steelers and Patriots? Maybe. Do they have enough to win it all? I think not.
Green Bay and Minnesota are sexy picks this year. San Diego and Indianapolis are always in the mix, and should be this year as well. But all four are all in the next tier of teams behind the four mentioned above.
My official prediction? In a game for the ages, the Eagles beat the Steelers, 20-17 in Super Bowl XLIV.
Stone Cold Lead Pipe Lock(tm).