Are you ready to say it yet? You know, those words rhyming with “Scooper Mole.” Are you ready to board the bandwagon? To suspend your hard-earned fatalism? To scout your parade-watching spot on Broad Street for February?
Most of us remain wary of declaring the Eagles Super Bowl worthy, despite their 7-1 record. The players, of course, must adhere to one-game-at-a-time clichés. “They don’t give out trophies at midseason,” center Jason Kelce warned after Sunday’s waterlogged 33-10 whooping of the lowly 49ers.
No, they don’t. But for fans, is there any rational reason beyond fearing a jinx to not project this team heading to Minnesota on Feb. 4? (I’ve looked up hotels. They’re pricey.)
I studied dozens of power rankings last week. Each had the Eagles as the NFC’s top team, and none listed them as lower than fourth overall in the league. That was before Sunday’s 23-point win.
Think of it this way: If you were not an Eagles fan, where would you rank them? And which NFC franchise would you put ahead of them now?
There are other good ones – Minnesota, New Orleans, Seattle, maybe the Rams – but each has flaws. Hell, I won’t even count out the despicable Cowboys, whose fate remains in the hands of whoever ultimately rules on Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension.
The Eagles strength is they have no real weakness. Carson Wentz is a bona fide MVP candidate, even after Sunday’s mushy performance. But while the QB has received the most hoopla, the defense deserves great credit.
Over the past four games, they have allowed opposing running backs just 129 yards on 58 attempts – an average of 2.2 yards per carry. They’re vulnerable against the pass, but they make stops – currently the defense has the NFL’s third-best rate of stopping 3rd-down conversions.
Fletcher Cox, after slumping last season, is a rock-solid All-Pro. The front seven, overall, is deep enough that coordinator Jim Schwartz can always call on fresh legs for the fourth-quarter pass rush.
The secondary has gone from a perceived weakness to an asset – even after losing CB Ronald Darby. Who’d have thought Jalen Mills would grow from seventh-round pick to play-making starter, or that Patrick Robinson would climb off the scrap heap to contribute?
The offense may be without star power beyond Wentz, but the strength is in the number of viable options. Sunday, the QB completed passes to nine different receivers.
It must be noted that Wentz was sacked three times and hit seven more in the first game without LT Jason Peters. That must be cleaned up – either through scheme, coaching or a trade at Tuesday’s deadline.
Are the Eagles great? No, they’re probably not as talented as the 2004 team that made the Super Bowl. But their timing is excellent – they’re a very good team in a season when quality is down around the NFL. As we turn to the second half of the season, they’re Vegas’s darling.
Clearly, that’s hard for some Philadelphians to fathom. I turned on WIP Monday morning, just in time to hear some fool named Levi say, “I’ve seen enough times when we’ve been built up just to get knocked down.”
Okay, maybe they crush our hearts again. No guarantees. But things are breaking the Eagles’ way now. The road to Minneapolis hasn’t got any traffic blocking the way. The bandwagon is loading.
Are you climbing aboard?