Skepticism, like fluoride, is in the Philadelphia water. It is just there, invisible but ever-present. All of which is an attempt to explain what the sports fans of this town are feeling.
I have heard people say that the Eagles are x-number of players away from being a serious Super Bowl contender. I have heard myself say it. How can they win without a playmaker in the secondary? How can they win with a retread backup quarterback who doesn't throw the ball down the field very much?
And here is the truth: if the Eagles beat Seattle on Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field, the sky’s the limit.
We all say in hindsight that we always knew x, y and z about whatever football team we’re talking about. We all walk around with this file folder full of facts, and we can make them fit whatever outcome takes place. But that isn’t how the NFL works. It is a six-week season at the end, provided that you aren’t buried. I say this all the time but it really needs to be emphasized, especially now, especially with the Eagles.
Because it doesn’t matter who the quarterback is anymore. And it doesn’t matter that every last Mettenberger off of the street can throw for a bunch of yards against them. For the Eagles, all that matters is staying hot.
Nearly every year, some highly-regarded team takes a late tumble and everybody laments how they wasted their talent. Never every year, too, some dead-and-buried team revives itself despite all of the death notices and all of the burial prayers. That is the way the sport has worked for years now, especially in the salary cap era.
There are no large sample sizes in the NFL. There are only six games at the end -- or five, or maybe seven, but you know what I mean. Past is not prologue. There is no prologue, except in the narrative sense. There are only these last few weeks, where one bounce can matter, where a run of bad weather can matter, where a significant injury can matter most of all.
Is it always fair and just? No. But it is equitable. Everybody who has a pulse going into Thanksgiving gets the same admission ticket. For an NFL team, when the weather gets cold, you either get hot or your home. Those are pretty much the choices. Teams that build an early advantage and then falter at the end can hang on -- but that’s all it is, hanging on, and everybody knows it.
Get hot or go home, then. That is the Eagles’ task. The win at Dallas was enormous. A win Sunday over Seattle would be the confirmation that even the greatest skeptic might need. It offers a great stylistic contrast between the Eagles’ offense and the Seahawks’ defense. It is a game where the Eagles are listed as a small favorite.
Win and, well, who knows? You can tell me that you know for sure that none of this matters because the Eagles can’t beat the Packers in Lambeau Field, and I might agree in a theoretical conversation. But if they beat Seattle, well, who knows? If they beat Seattle, if they run the table from here, well, who really knows?