Super Bowl Predictions: Five Stat-Free Reasons Why the Eagles Will Reach The Super Bowl
Sometimes in sports, you just gotta believe.
Unfortunately, that’s not good enough to maintain journalistic integrity. Nor is voodoo magic—unless you’re a Saints fan, in which case you can take the bag off.
But while as a fan I want to believe the Eagles can make the Super Bowl, the fact is that as a journalist, I truly CAN believe the Eagles can get there.
Sure, you can throw out numbers and stats and visual facts to disclaim that. I could do the same for any other team.
But it’s always the intangibles that make a good situation great, and the Eagles have five on their side that could be an unwitting boon to their preparation and game planning in their quest to fly south for the winter.
No. 1: Weapons of Choice
The NFC playoff teams are all built the same.
With one or two exceptions or missing parts, all six look the same on offense: top-flight quarterback, deep-threat receiver, very good back who can pound you and an emerging weapon at tight end. On defense, most teams have a top-flight pass rusher and a ball-hawking secondary.
Yet the Eagles are the only team where no one is truly a “star.”
While the secondary players on other teams can beat you if you focus to heavily on Larry Fitzgerald, Marques Colston, Miles Austin, etc., the Eagles don’t have that one elite weapon…because they’re all equally capable.
No, any Eagle can beat you at any time.
DeSean Jackson has become more than just a deep threat this year, but if you don’t watch him he’ll burn you for 60. Jeremy Maclin has improved leaps and bounds over the season, Brent Celek has exploded again in the last month, and Jason Avant is the best third-down receiver in the NFL not named Steve Smith.
Behind the curtain, Leonard Weaver has become a legit running option, and with Brin Westbrook back, they can get a little rotation going and hopefully bring back the specter of the run.
If they can get Reggie Brown involved at all, it will give D-Mac eight legit weapons that he can (and will) deloy at any time.
How do you cover that?
No. 2: The
“W” in this case stands for Brian Westbrook, who missed two-thirds of the season with a concussion.
But everyone knows that when healthy in the past, Westbrook has made the offense go. Just the threat of any part of his all-around game beating teams made them concentrate hard on him.
That isn’t (and won’t be) the case anymore, but what he does do is give them a veteran presence in the backfield.
He’s not the same and neither is the offense…but just him being there gives McNabb another viable option and opens up the running game a crack more than it’s been opened for most of the year.
No. 3: Road Warrior Mindset
As the sixth seed, the Eagles know that they will have a lot in common Willie Nelson’s biggest hit.
So while the destinations aren’t all fully know, the Eagles do know exactly how the road to Miami will play out.
They play at Dallas on Saturday. If they win, they know they’re going to New Orleans for a rematch of the Week 2 shellacking at the Linc.
Beyond that, it’s either Minnesota, Arizona or Green Bay. They won’t necessarily know which depending on how next week’s schedule plays out, but they do know it will be a road trip.
That’s actually an advantage, because they don’t have to hope and pray and keep a glimmer of a game at the Linc alive. They know they have to go on the road.
And against the NFC, they were 5-1 on the road this season.
I’ll take those odds.
No. 4: Dome Sweet Dome
Look at the previous slide again. The Eagles go to Dallas, then would go to New Orleans, and then have a 75 per cent probability of finishing out in Arizona or Minnesota.
What do they all have in common? They’re domed or enclosed stadiums.
This means weather won’t be a factor, the speed offense will be on prominent display, and that Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown can take a couple chances to close on balls if they get help over the top without worrying about bad field conditions slowing them down.
Sure, crowd noise might be a factor on the negative side, but that’s something you have to deal with.
No. 5: History Repeats Itself
And now, for the ultimate “you gotta believe” stat manipulation.
Last season, the Eagles’ finale with the Cowboys determined their playoff fate.
Last season, the Eagles were the No. 6 seed.
Last season, their first-round opponent was a team who won their division on the final week of the season.
Last season, they went on the road to face a divisional opponent for a third time.
Last year, the No. 1 seed in the NFC was a vulnerable juggernaut—a team that started hot, fizzled late, and limped into their bye based on that sizzling start.
Last year, the Arizona Cardinals were the No. 4 seed because they were good early and average late.
Last year, the Eagles met them in the NFC title game after two road wins and a Cards upset of a team they had already played that season.
History can repeat itself.
You just gotta believe.
It all starts in less than 24 hours.