Philadelphia Eagles: Yes, They Can! (Opinion)

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PHILADELPHIA -

We are finally here: The day that Eagles Nation has been waiting on the past 18 weeks. Playoff fever is back in Philadelphia for the first time since 2013.

Keep in mind that these are two completely different teams but do share one very important commonality: Nick Foles as quarterback.

In 2013, Nick Foles had a banner year throwing 27 TDs and 2 INTs, but sadly that was at the apex of his NFL career. The Eagles are facing off against the reigning NFC Champions, the Atlanta Falcons, who are the experts’ pick to get back to the Super Bowl after their victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

I have been very clear since the gut-wrenching injury of Carson Wentz in saying that there is little chance for a Super Bowl run. But, as the game approaches and the doubters keep popping up, I am growing more and more confident that the Eagles can win this game. Yes, I said it, they CAN win this game.

This match-up between the northern birds (Eagles) and the southern birds (Falcons) marks the first time in history that the No. 1 seed in the National Conference is an underdog on their home turf. Look I get it, as I explained two weeks ago, this is a completely different team without Carson Wentz. This team is also going against one of the league’s top quarterbacks in Philly’s own Matt Ryan. Atlanta has playoff experience and a loaded offense, while Nick Foles has been unimpressive in his final two games of the season.

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But let’s look at the reasons why the Eagles can win this game. First, let me point out that Matt Ryan is 1-3 against the Eagles when playing in Philadelphia. Winning in Philadelphia is no easy task. The Falcons will experience a fan base and environment which is downright cruel. The electricity in the stadium will be off the charts. And, lest I forget, Old Man Winter is preparing a nice welcome to the southern birds, and weather is an issue for a dome team like the Atlanta Falcons. The weather will start out relatively mild for a January day in Philly but steadily drop during the course of the game, with temperatures hitting the low 20s (with a wind chill much lower than that) by the fourth quarter. Nice and nasty!

Add this to the fact that the Eagles have the best NFL Home Record (13-3) over the past two seasons (better than those guys from New England or even the Eagles' cross-state rivals in Pittsburgh). Also, I believe we were fortunate to draw Atlanta as the No. 6 seed instead of facing the No. 4 seed New Orleans Saints, who will be traveling to Minnesota to square off with the Vikings.

From a pure match-up standpoint, Atlanta wants to run the ball; they make no bones about it. They rank in the top half of the league in rushing yards and attempts, with 39 rush attempts just last week. Fortunately for the Eagles, stopping the run is their strength and it has been all season, ranking number one in rushing defense. If the Eagles stop the run on early downs, then that will allow them to focus on stopping Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu in the short passing game.

The last factor that I want to discuss goes back to the underdog role this team has been forced into. Let’s face it: Philadelphia is an underdog city, we always have been. Now this team is suddenly playing as an underdog. Listening to the national media outlets and the so-called football experts, we stand little chance to win the game. This can only help this team, a team that has fought for every game they played and for every ounce of respect they have earned. Doug Pederson has used the fact that Vegas has made this team an underdog as bulletin board material all week at practice. Fletcher Cox has been vocal about proving the naysayers wrong.

All of these factors will make for an interesting afternoon as kickoff approaches on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field. I’ll tell you one thing: I absolutely cannot wait. This is what we, as fans live for, moments like these. Moments like what the 2001 Sixers experienced when nobody gave them a chance to win a single game against the Lakers. This is a very important and special moment for us fans, but even more so for the players and the coaching staff. They are out to prove the doubters wrong, and as Philadelphian fans I don’t believe we would have it any other way.

Saturday begins our march to the Super Bowl. It is a game we can win. Let the mantra begin: “Philadelphia against the World.”

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