You know, not necessarily in this runaway train to a Super Bowl stuff, but in a strong, successful return to the postseason, sure.
Never bought into the former anyway. Just the latter.
With Sunday night’s reality-check loss in Seattle, the Eagles, and more directly, their fan base, were hit with one unmistakable truth – the team is beatable.
Granted, we’re talking about an other-worldly, better-than-Tarkenton effort by Russell Wilson pretty much required to do them in, but, hey, that’s the kind of opposition or hurdle playing in the NFL can provide.
That’s why the no-doubt-about-it, top-seed, conference-title, February-trip-to-Minneapolis was a bit silly in the first place.
The Eagles being good enough to compete for all that? Well, no, not so silly. That’s still in play.
It’s just not a given. It never was.
Pick your poison from Week 13, but Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson and Co. had a hand in that two-TD defeat.
The quarterback was off with his throws early on and his handle late. The coach was off, well, with his game plan and his feel for what was going on.
The short-passing attack seemed out of whack. Not going for it on fourth-and-two at the Seattle 48 with 22 seconds left before intermission seemed odd. Challenging – and losing – a spot call in the second half that left the Birds with about a half yard on fourth down inside Seahawks territory, and then – the key part in “duuuuh” – going for it, and getting the first down anyway.
If you had confidence enough to attempt it, then when bother worrying about a challenge, and ultimate loss of a timeout, anyway.
Then the one challenge that needed to be made, on an apparent past-the-line-of-scrimmage forward pass by Wilson masquerading as an option pitch that sparked Seattle’s game-clinching score in the fourth, well, never mind, huh?
Yo, what the …
Thing is, the masses – egged on by the voluminous hyperbole shoved down their throat by local sportstalk radio – had gotten, well, way, waaaay too far ahead of themselves. Yeah, it’s true that you can only play who’s on your schedule, and that all teams in the league are filled with “professional” personnel, but, fact is, Philly only had played one team that currently owns a winning record, Carolina, before Sunday night and, yes, it had beaten it.
Now, the Birds are 1-1 against winning teams.
They’re also 2-1 against current .500 teams.
Which means the vast majority of that nifty, NFC East-leading 10-2 record has come against mediocre or worse competition.
So, they’ve routinely beaten the teams they should thus far in 2017. They’ve also shown they can beat playoff-caliber teams, and lose to them.
Which, to me, means they’re not a given to go all the way, or to win the conference title or even gain home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
But they’re good. They’re a strong playoff entrant, with the potential to do some damage.
Still believe in that.