According to the sports betting website Bovada, the reigning world champions (that’s never going to get old, is it?) are tied with the Green Bay Packers for the second-best odds of winning Super Bowl LIII. First on the list? Some team with a butter hands quarterback called the New England Patriots.
The most insulting part about this might be that the lines aren’t especially close. The Eagles and Packers are 9/1 to win it all, while the Pats are 5/1. And sure, New England is very like retaining Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. But they’ve lost defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
Meanwhile, the Eagles will regain the services of quarterback Carson Wentz, future Hall of Fame left tackle Jason Peters, middle linebacker Jordan Hicks and a slew of other injured contributors next season. They also just beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, if you care about that sort of thing.
On paper, the Eagles 2018 schedule looks more challenging than this past year. By virtue of playing a first place schedule, the Eagles have home game rematches against the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers, will hit the road to play the New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams and head to London for a date with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
At the beginning of the 2017 campaign, the Eagles were nobody’s darlings. Their 50/1 odds this time last year seemed in line with the national view of the team. Coming off a 7-9 season under head coach Doug Pederson, most national observers thought the Eagles would push for a playoff spot if Wentz could develop into a solid starter in his second year. There were a slew of new signings, and the Eagles seemed like a team on the right track, not one headed full steam toward their destination.
Of course, what happened next shocked the world, as the Eagles rattled off 13 wins en route to the number one seed and the city’s first ever Super Bowl title. The team withstood a slew of injuries, though it looked touch-and-go for a while once Wentz went down and future Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles stepped in.
Vegas consistently underrated the Eagles throughout the playoffs. They were the first Divisional Round home dogs in league history, and went into the Super Bowl around 4.5 point underdogs. But the Eagles used that doubt as fuel throughout the postseason, so in retrospect maybe Philadelphians should be thanking Vegas. Without that disrespect, we don’t get the underdog masks and mentality that seemed to push this team to another level deep into their miracle playoff run.
So while the Eagles and their fans celebrate with a parade down Broad Street this Thursday, they’ll do so knowing that, once again, the powers that be don’t believe in them.
I don’t know about you, but for the first time in a long time, I like those odds.