When the Philadelphia Eagles lost Carson Wentz, their young QB star, a peculiar situation presented itself, the lower seeded Falcons became favored in the play-off matchup. Eagles players rallied around this media verdict and created a new fashion sensation for Philadelphia fans by donning German Shepherd masks to celebrate victory over the Falcons.
On Sunday the Eagles will host the Minnesota Vikings and have encouraged fans to wear dog masks or underdog t-shirts (for those unable to secure the sold out mask) in support. I will not be wearing a dog mask for a variety of reasons and neither should you, the Eagles are not underdogs.
Home Field Advantage
- Comfort: When you’re the home team, you get to sleep in your own bed; no sharing a hotel room with a 350 pound lineman sawing logs.
- The 12th Man: The energy from a fired up crowd can uplift a flat home team and provide motivation at critical moments.
- Numbers Don’t Lie: An awesome piece by Neil Paine on fivethirtyeight compiled the winning percentage of home play-off teams in all sports since 2000. The NFL displayed the greatest home field winning percentage at 64.7%, up from the regular season rate of 57.1%.
Nick Foles is a Capable Back Up
One of the reasons sports analyst view the Eagles as underdogs is the loss of Carson Wentz to a knee injury, but Foles boasts a nice body of work going into the Vikes game:
- Great 2013: The NFL, like the world, says ‘What have you done for me lately?’ But let’s not forget that Foles posted 27 touchdowns, threw for 2,891 yards, completed 64% of his passes, and only had 2 picks in the 2013 season! Sure, it’s been 5 years since that production but there’s a reason the Eagles brought Foles back into the nest – he’s a capable NFL QB.
- Stepping up in 2017: This year Nick stepped in and tossed 4 touchdowns against the hapless Giants and did just enough to help the Eagles secure the number one playoff seed in the NFC, providing home-field advantage throughout.
- Getting Comfortable: Back up QB’s don’t get many reps in the NFL and now that Foles is the starter, his reps will increase and he should only get more comfortable as he practices with the starting offense. The last two regular season games were rocky, but in the NFC Divisional Round Foles completed 23/30 passes for 76.7%. It looks like Foles is finding a rhythm.
A good Eagles defense is a facing the Vikings 3rd option at quarterback
- The Eagles defense is good: Everybody is talking about the top ranked Vikings defense, but the Eagles ranked in the top 5 for a variety of regular season defensive statistics: points allowed per game at 18.4, total points allowed at 295, and yards allowed per game at 306.5.
- Case Keenum is the Vikings back-up: Yes, the poor Eagles lost Wentz, but the Vikings lost Teddy Bridgewater in 2016 leading to the acquisition of Sam Bradford who was injured this year, which gave Keenum the starting nod. Case has performed well and sustained it, proving he can hang with the top third of QB’s in the NFL, but ultimately Keenum was the 3rd man on the Vikes depth chart.
I see a lot of great reasons to watch the game, but I don’t see an underdog.