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This Eagles team is it

Green Bay Packers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Yeah right, like I was going to screw up the Super Bowl juju and not write the one annual article BLG demands of me.

Here’s the deal - this all feels MUCH different for me from being an Eagles fan normally. Sure, it helps to no longer have to grapple with the unbearable, crushing weight of never winning a Super Bowl, but that can’t be the only reason I feel so calm. Let’s dive in.

I enjoyed rooting for Jalen Hurts because he’s so likable, but I was also very lukewarm about him coming out of 2021. I loved everything about Hurts, except the most important aspect of the position and remained steadfastly unconvinced he had the passing chops to elevate himself into the true franchise star quarterback tier. Hell, I was one of the people who would’ve traded him for Russell Wilson. At least going into this season I knew we’d have our definitive answer about his status and what needed to be done at quarterback - lean in or move on. It didn’t take long for me to choose “lean in” and fully commit. Sure, AJ Brown helped change the calculus on offense, but it was clear in the first month that Jalen had taken the leap. Then he took that hard hit from Devin Lloyd of the Jaguars on 4th and goal at the goal line to score a touchdown and I had a revelatory moment. I always understood why Hurts’ teammates loved and followed him into battle, but, for me, that desperate, gotta-have-it moment in the rain, after having thrown a pick-six, with his team down 14-0 and facing its first adversity of the season, is what made me a believer deep in my soul. I just knew.

Similar to Hurts, I had my doubts about the caliber of this Eagles team deep into the season. Those feelings of doubt about the team’s ceiling gnawed at me until the Titans game, which was my “oh, this team can win the whole thing” moment. And since? I’ve never, not for a second, had any doubts about. Not even after the Jalen Hurts’ injury and during the two-game Gardner Minshew stretch. The Cowboys game in Dallas? Despite all the mistakes and the 3rd and 30 disaster, I firmly believe Minshew leads the offense to a game-winning touchdown if Lane Johnson doesn’t get injured on the final drive. The Saints game sucked, but that defense was hot and well-equipped to torture Minshew, especially without Johnson playing - a classic “whatever, throw this performance in the trash and move on” kind of day. The final 3 weeks of the season were simply about surviving without any truly catastrophic injuries and winning one game - whenever, however - to secure home field advantage. Then over the next two weeks, it was about resting, resetting, getting as healthy as possible, and, perhaps just as important for coaches and players, remembering how dominant they were as a unit in running roughshod over the NFL for the first three-plus months of the season.

The week leading up to the Divisional Round Playoff game was humorous. It was almost like national media decided the first game between the Eagles and Giants - you know, with both teams healthy and playing at 100% - a month before wasn’t the true barometer of this matchup. Momentum, whatever what means, is never as important as being healthy. I didn’t have even a millisecond of worry during the week - we were going to annihilate the Giants from kickoff, and that’s what happened. The game was over in five minutes.

I felt similarly going into the 49ers game that I did against the Giants. Maybe it was the relief of not having to worry about losing to the Cowboys at home with the Super Bowl on the line, I don’t know, but something about facing the Niners instead of Dallas was simply… freeing. I did know two things for certain. First, Kyle Shanahan was going to make a monumental in-game coaching blunder that put his team in a bad spot, and second, Brock fucking Purdy wasn’t coming to The Linc in January and beating us. Definitely a fun, cute story, but rookie quarterbacks were 0-4 in Championship Games, and I’ll be damned if Purdy was going to make that 1-4 in our house. We didn’t have to wait long for our Shanahan’s mental mishap by not automatically challenging the Eagles’ opening drive fourth down conversion so that he could save his first half timeouts and do… absolutely nothing with them later. What a master strategist! Purdy’s fate didn’t have anything to do with his own performance, but rather his coach calling a play that isolated the his backup tight end against the other team’s best pass rusher. Oh, and let’s get this out of the way - while it would have obviously been a more competitive game with Purdy healthy, the Niners were dominated up front on both sides of the ball from start to finish.

The other sense I got going into the NFC Championship Game was that, while the 49ers matched up well with the Eagles and posed the toughest matchup yet on defense, they played up their “identity” a little too much and what got lost in the shuffle as a result is that these Eagles are pretty ferocious on both sides of the ball in their own right. I’d say the offense and defense more than proved their points on their respective opening drives. Maybe next time Kyle Shanahan won’t have Tyler Kroft isolated on Hassan Reddick, and maybe the Niners will carry a third quarterback so they can lose 31-10 instead of 31-7.

The Eagles simply have not been tested in eight quarters of playoff football, with the second halves of both games essentially mimicking preseason scripts. And while the Eagles are the deeper, better team in this Super Bowl matchup against the Chiefs, it will be anything but a cakewalk. Mahomes, even at less than 100% and not his usual mobile wizard self, will carve up the Eagles top-ranked pass defense. Andy Reid is going to tap into his West Coast Offense roots by highlighting the quick, short pass game with Travis Kelce, Kadarius Toney, and Skyy Moore (sleeper pick for being a surprise pain in the ass) and heavily involving Isiah Pacheco and Jerrick McKinnon out of the backfield. It’ll be his version of what the Commanders did to the Eagles defense in the Monday Night Football loss - and I think it’ll work early and allow the Chiefs to jump out to a lead in the first quarter while the Eagles are settling in. That said, once the Eagles find their bearings, I think they do to the Chiefs what they’ve done to pretty much every opponent this season - impose their will by embracing their identity on offense as a physical, smash-mouth running team. There will be a lot of Miles Sanders, Kenny Gainwell, and even Boston Scott, but Russell Wilson and Joe Burrow both had success with their legs against the Chiefs defense, and I expect Jalen Hurts’ running ability to be heavily featured - that part of his game has been lying in wait for two months, waiting for precisely this moment. If you’re a bettor, smash Hurts o49.5 yards rushing (-110), ATD at +100, and play his ladder to 90 rush yards at +700. I think we put up the most yards on the ground that the Chiefs have allowed all season, which is currently 172 yards by the Titans, and Hurts as the leading rusher at +270 is a solid bet. He’s going to shred the Chiefs through the air too and account for over 300 yards of total offense en route to winning the MVP award that actually matters. Maybe we’ll even get the breakout AJ Brown game we’ve been waiting for, since the Chiefs get worked by opposing #1 wide receivers and L’Jarius Snead may be dealing with a knee injury that made him a limited participant in Thursday’s practice. DeVonta Smith is definitely going to have a nice game too - he’s built for moments like this, and he knows it:

I’m telling you, this Eagles team is it, and I am in the exact same mindset I was against the Giants and 49ers - unsettlingly confident.

The Chiefs are the stalwart, the NFL’s new dynasty with a Hall-of-Fame coach, quarterback, and tight end. Yet the Eagles, while an upstart when you view them through the Sirianni-Hurts lens, have a stalwart quality themselves thanks to all-time franchise greats like Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, Fletcher Cox, and Lane Johnson bridging the eras and playing in what will be their final game together in Eagles uniforms after over a decade in Philadelphia. There’s a unique, special blend of last stand and long-term upside at play here, with one generation handing the keys to the next. We thought 2017 could be the start of a dynasty, but 2022 has way more potential to fulfill that dream.

Mahomes will get his because he’s Patrick Mahomes, but Chiefs fans are nervous about their tackles going up against our edge rushers - trust me on this, two of them told me as much a few days ago while I was in New Orleans before then predicting 38-28 Chiefs; they asked me for my thoughts on the game, and I said, verbatim, “We are going to run all over you and you won’t be able to do shit to stop us.” Our front four is going to get to Mahomes a few times on defense and force a turnover; on offense we are going to ground, pound, and tenderize that ass for 60 minutes. I felt this way in October while watching them and envisioning a possible Super Bowl matchup, and I’m even more convinced now. The 2022 Eagles are one of the best teams in the trenches EVER. Seriously, I put our offensive and defensive lines up against any team in NFL history. The advantage against the Chiefs up front is significant, and the Eagles are going to live their identity one more time and punctuate this magical season with their trademark - grinding away, physically dominating along the line of scrimmage, and wearing down their opponent. Pretty poetic that this is the kind of team we have when facing Andy Reid in the Super Bowl, eh?

Speaking of Andy, I’m a “football gods” guy, so he is karmically required to go full Eagles Andy and make a mystifyingly bad in-game decision that cripples his team and ruins the psyche of their fans. It’s destiny. He couldn’t deliver us a Super Bowl win during his time here, but hey, we’ll take it like this.

Eagles are going to win their second Super Bowl, and just for symmetry shits and giggles like beating the Giants 38-7 on the anniversary of the 2017 season NFC Championship Game, I’m calling a 41-33 final score.

See you on Broad Street later tonight and then again for the parade.

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