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5 Reasons the Eagles will NOT win Super Bowl LIII

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Don’t be bitter, I’m just being honest.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles won the Super Bowl last year, and as they approach their second game of the season undefeated, lets face the sad truth: The Eagles are not going to win the Super Bowl this year. Its a reality we’ve all come to admit internally, but externally, as Eagles fans, we declare this team undefeatable and destined to win their second Super Bowl in not only two years, but in 53 years. Why won’t they win, you might ask? Well...

Have you seen the NFC?

Here’s a not-so-hot take for you, whoever wins the NFC will win the Super Bowl. The league has become very unbalanced in recent years, and the trend only seems to be continuing. If you were to consult Pro Football Focus to find out how many teams from each conference ranked in the top half of the league by year, this is what you’d get:

Teams in Top Half of League by Conference (per PFF)

Season AFC NFC
Season AFC NFC
2014 8 8
2015 8 8
2016 7 9
2017 7 9

For those of you who don’t care what PFF has to say, if you were to simply refer to the initial draft positions of each team by year to find how many teams each conference has in the final 16 picks, you’ll get a very similar table:

Teams in Top Half of Conference by year (by draft position)

Season AFC NFC
Season AFC NFC
2014 9 7
2015 9 7
2016 8 8
2017 7 9

Either way, as you can see, the power of the NFC has been slowly growing over the past few seasons, and the trend should continue in 2018. Here is a(n incomplete probably) list of players that transitioned from the AFC to the NFC in one way or another this offseason:

  • Alex Smith (KC to WAS)
  • Allen Hurns (JAX to DAL)
  • Allen Robinson (JAX to CHI)
  • Aquib Talib (DEN to LAR)
  • Brandin Cooks (NE to LAR)
  • Demario Davis (NYJ to NO)
  • George Iloka (CIN to MIN)
  • Khalil Mack (OAK to CHI)
  • Marcus Peters (KC to LAR)
  • Muhammad Wilkerson (NYJ to GB)
  • Nate Solder (NE to NYG)
  • Ndamukong Suh (MIA to LAR)
  • Ryan Jensen (BAL to TB)

While some power rankings show the Eagles in the top spot, others have one, two, or even three NFC teams ahead of them. If the Eagles win the NFC, they will win the Super Bowl but the odds of them doing so in such a competitive conference are only 6/1, per vegasinsider.com and 4/1 per oddsshark.com.

The Eagles just won the Super Bowl.

Since the Super Bowl was first played on January 15th, 1967, only 8 times has the game been won by the same team two years in a row. That means about 15% of the time a team will repeat, with only once occurrence since the league got to 32 teams. It was tough enough for the Eagles to win one Super Bowl (as I’m sure we all remember) and to assume that Philly can march back to the Championship again is putting the metaphorical cart before the horse. In fact, its more likely that the Super Bowl winning team will finish the following season without a winning record (which has happened 11 times, or 22%) than it is that the team will finish the following season as the Super Bowl Champions again. While history like this, of course, has no barring on the future, it is a good indicator of just how tough it is for a team to repeat a championship run.

The secondary is more of a liability than you’re comfortable admitting.

The loss of Patrick Robinson could cause shock waves throughout this defense. Jalen Mills, while fierce and aggressive, is arguably the worst player on the defense. Rasul Douglas and Ronald Darby both looked the part at times last year, but then again, both players rank within the top 30 cornerbacks in terms of most yards allowed per cover snap. Rodney McLeod was great in coverage, but was one of the least effective tackling safeties in the league last year.

Here are some 2017 coverage stats you might not have thought of:

  • Jalen Mills has a passer rating when targeted of 90.3 on contested catches (ranks 72/91 out of CBs with at least 10 contested targets)
  • When in press coverage, Mills had an allowed completion percentage of 69.2 (ranks 114/126 out of CBs with at least 10 press coverage targets)
  • On plays without pressure on the quarterback, Mills allowed 4 TDs but only registered 1 INT (TD/INT ratio ranks 81/130 CBs with at least 20 non-pressure targets)
  • On third or fourth down, Rodney McLeod allowed 5 of 5 targets to be caught for an average of 10.2 yards.
  • In the red zone Ronald Darby had allowed a passer rating when targeted of 88.7. Jalen Mills was even worse at 104.2. Patrick Robinson, on the other hand, allowed a passer rating of just 31.6.
  • Jalen Mills allowed 252 yards after the catch from the cornerback position. Only 6 players allowed more.

The common defense of Jalen Mills is something along the lines of this: He is schemed to allow receptions underneath of him while quickly making the tackle. He excels in press coverage and in quick throw situations. He is a good coverage corner with a good ability to break up passes.

The problem is, almost all of that is wrong. Mill is below average without the help of pressure. Mills is very bad in contested situations. Mills is very bad when starting a play in press coverage. Mills allows more yards after the catch than most cornerbacks. It’ll be interesting to see what Sidney Jones and Avonte Maddox are capable of bringing to this unit, but for now, the loss of Patrick Robinson might have the biggest impact on the roster out of all of the changes that happened to this team since February, positive or negative.

The loss of Frank Reich & John DeFilippo hurts. It hurts bad.

Just four days after winning the Super Bowl, it was announced that QB Coach John DeFilippo would become the new offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings. Three days later, Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich was hired by the Indianapolis Colts to be their new head coach. It is common for coaches and coordinators to picked away from winning teams in the NFL, and unfortunately for the Eagles, that is exactly what happened here. A big reason why Carson Wentz has been so thus far in his career can be attributed to the trio of “Quarterback Gurus” he had coaching him. It is yet to be seen how Wentz will play after not only returning from a devastating knee injury, but also without two of his three primary coaches, but it is probably a safe bet that his level of play could take a hit.

If week 1 was any indication, just months after being crowned the MVP of Super Bowl LII, Nick Foles completed a paltry 55.9% of his passes for just 117 yards and 1 interception. Nelson Agholor, who looked like a changed man in 2017, caught 8 passes for just 33 yards. Zach Ertz, who led the team in receiving last year, caught just 5 of 10 targets and had 2 horrendous drops. Its not a coincidence that the defense looked virtually unchanged while the offense looked like a different unit entirely. With new coaches comes new systems, new plays, and most importantly, more required time to adjust.

Luck.

Many times throughout the 2018 Super Bowl run, lady luck blew a kiss in the direction of the Eagles. Here are a few things that happened last year that greatly benefited the Eagles, even though the Eagles had no control over it:

  • Ezekiel Elliott missed 6 games
  • Odell Beckham Jr. missed 12 games
  • Aaron Rodgers missed 9 games
  • Luke Kuechly missing a majority of the game played vs the Eagles
  • The 49ers getting Jimmy “better than Tom Brady” Garoppolo after playing the Eagles
  • This play:
  • The Miracle Touchdown catch by Stefon Diggs on the final play of the game that allowed the Eagles to play the Vikings instead of the Saints, an opponent who had a better chance of beating them.

While there are always going to be injuries in the NFL, and fluky plays that could not ever be recreated, sometimes these things go in your favor, and sometimes they don’t. Last year the Eagles lucked out more often than not, and for those familiar with how flipping a coin works, there is always a head for every tail.

So here’s to another long run, folks. I’ll be along side you rooting for the Birds until the very end, but unlike you, I have accepted that the very end will happen before February 3rd.

Poll

Will the Eagles win Super Bowl LIII?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    Yes!
    (1265 votes)
  • 6%
    No!
    (219 votes)
  • 59%
    Bro, its September. I have no effing idea.
    (2159 votes)
3643 votes total Vote Now