These past few years of playoffs just weren't the same without the Eagles in the race. Playoff football is always fun, but this year is a whole different level. And who really expected the Eagles to be here? They weren't supposed to be. It was Chip Kelly's first year. It was a rebuild. The defense was in transition. The offense wouldn't be fully installed right away. And so on. Instead, the Eagles have exceeded everyone's exceptions and became a 10 win playoff team. In Chip Kelly's first. Year One!
But before settling on the regular season, consider that the Eagles are legitimately good right now. Aside from the loss to the Vikings in Minnesota, they are a very hot team, having won seven of their last eight games. There are several areas on the roster that could certainly be upgraded upon in the offseason, but that shouldn't prevent this team from competing at a high level now.
For your consideration:
Eagles are #1 in offensive run DVOA all season, fourth in passing DVOA since Week 10, and #1 in overall DVOA since Week 10. Looking scary.— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) January 3, 2014
Short version: The Iggles are ready to beat people up in all sorts of ways if you let them.— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) January 3, 2014
Despite their struggles on the road, the Saints come into town as a significant challenge. New Orleans has a distinct advantage passing game. The Eagles allow a lot of yards while the Saints gobble up the field like it's candy. Saints running back Pierre Thomas will be out, but quarterback Drew Brees still has plenty of weapons to work with. This is the biggest area of concern for the Eagles today.
On the other hand, the Saints should be concerned with the Eagles' leading rushing attack. The Saints are weakest against the run. I'm sure that's a matchup Kelly can't wait to exploit.
I've already covered the home field advantage angle. It's hard not to feel the Eagles will have an edge in this area. The Linc should be loud and rowdy; I completely expect it to be a hostile improvement for the opposing team.
The Eagles got this far because they deserved it. They're a good team and if they continue to play well, it's not unreasonable to see them making a run further into the post-season. But if they're going to do that, it all starts here in Philadelphia. Tonight.
Respect all, fear none.
Score prediction: 31-27, Eagles win.
Bold prediction: James Casey scores a touchdown.
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