Last season was the Philadelphia Eagles year.
They earned the best record in the National Football Conference and with that the top seed in the playoffs despite having to play their final three games without starting quarterback Carson Wentz. Before his December injury, Wentz was among the leaders to win NFL Most Valuable Player.
Once in the playoffs, the Eagles became the first team in NFL history to be a home underdog in both postseason games as a top seed, and downed the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings enroute to their first Super Bowl win, as an underdog, over the New England Patriots. Wentz’s backup, Nick Foles, was named Super Bowl LII MVP.
Yep, last year was the Eagles year.
This season, not so much.
After edging the Atlanta Falcons in their opener, a feat now not considered as difficult as one thought at the time, Philadelphia has been on a trajectory that would have a test pilot pull the ejection seat. Still, two weeks ago, given their division, the NFC East, had not seen a dominate team emerge, the Eagles were still in the playoff hunt and favored by a touchdown at home when the Dallas Cowboys visited Lincoln Financial Field.
Didn’t go well for Doug Pederson and his defending champions in that nationally televised Sunday night game. The Cowboys looked like they should have been the touchdown favorite instead of the underdog as they downed the Eagles on their home field, 27-20.
Off that loss, the Eagles went into the most unfriendly confines for a visiting team this season, New Orleans, and the Saints proved to everyone that this is not the Eagles year as they poured it on during a 48-7 trouncing. That kind of result can happen for a defending team, opponents always have an extra dose of motivation when playing the current Super Bowl champions.
Okay, now that the Eagles have been cleaned out with two straight losses and for all practical purposes eliminated from playoff consideration, won’t they bounce back with a big home win this week over the New York Giants? After all, the Giants are having an even worse year than the Eagles, and even though they have won their last two games, over two of the weakest teams in the league, the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they enter Sunday’s fray in Philadelphia with only three season wins.
Wouldn’t the Eagles want to vent their frustrations out on an undermanned Giants team?
Not so much.
In fact, the Eagles are done playing this year. Pride doesn’t kick in for a defending champ off a couple losses … most often surrender is a more likely path. They don’t have anything to play for here, even though they may say differently, because they have recently played in games that mattered, contests that ended with them winning it all. The possibility of adding a few meaningless wins to their season record carries no drive for the defending champs.
Conversely, the Giants have everything to play for. They were considered the worst team in football just a couple weeks ago, now after two victories they are working to repair the damage inflicted on their fans in head coach Pat Shurmur’s first season with New York. Last year, when the Eagles won it all, the only team in their division they didn’t beat against the spread in either of their 2017 meetings was the Giants.
This is one of the oldest NFL rivalries, and when these two teams meet this week it will be another Hatfield and McCoy type battle. The Eagles dominated the Giants six weeks ago in New York, 34-13, for one of their three point spread wins this season. On Sunday, the Giants are in line to pick up their third straight victory.
Qoxhi Picks: New York Giants (+6) over Philadelphia Eagles