A month ago, we were all looking at the defending Super Bowl champions leaving them for dead. Gone was the hope that they could even get back to the playoffs, let alone make any deep run like last season.
Carson Wentz wasn’t off statistically so much as he was with the eye test. It turns out the back injury to Wentz opened up the door for Nick Foles. Fast forward a month later and here we are in a familiar setting like last season.
Winners of five of their last six, the discussion is just how dangerous this team really is. Can NFL betting fans trust this year’s Eagles team like they did last year? Should they bet on them as part of their Wild Card weekend betting plans? The answer may surprise you. Stay away from Philly this year.
There is no debate the offense simply moved better this year with Foles at the helm versus Wentz. There are two key factors as why that was the case, the first being Wentz was hurt. He overcompensated coming back from double ligament tears in his knee and hurt his back as a result.
The other factor is Foles doesn’t have the athletic ability that Wentz has. Wentz can extend plays with his feet, allowing him to hold the ball longer. Foles might use the run/pass option, but the ball is coming out much faster.
So, most of what we see looks the same as last year, at least on the surface. But scratch a little deeper and you see this year’s team has a much steeper cliff to climb than last year.
Foles took a big shot to the ribs in their Week 17 win over Washington. While he is expected to play in Chicago, the fact he’s nursing a bruised rib is a major contrast from last year’s playoff team.
The health of the QB is a new concern this team didn’t have last year around this time, so is the state of the team Foles took over. The Eagles have a legit chance of going into Chicago, keeping it close, and winning that football game.
They do not have that same chance of doing it in New Orleans. It’s a wide gap between last year’s domination and this year’s head-above-water team.
The numbers aren’t lying here. In fact, they tell the entire story. The Super Bowl champion Eagles entered the playoffs as the third-best scoring offense in the NFL. That’s a pretty big difference from this year’s team at 18th this season.
This year’s defense is asked to bend and not break, something that has proven far more difficult on the field than on paper. They are 23rd in the NFL in yardage allowed but just 12th in total points allowed. Not terrible. Jim Schwartz and his players on defense did an even better job last year, finishing fourth in both categories. A true top-five defense in the NFL.
The Eagles might have magic and some intangible element that Foles brings to this team, but recent history is not on their side. Over the past five seasons, including last year, 9 of the 10 No. 1 seeds made the Super Bowl.
The lone exception was when the Falcons blew that huge lead to the Patriots, Atlanta was a two seed. That’s a heck of a trend the Eagles would have to buck on top of everything else that’s different from last year.
This Sunday might prove favorable to the Eagles as a road dog in Chicago. They were able to ride that underdog mentality, despite playing at home, for three straight games until they hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. But if you aren’t playing at home, you have a significant disadvantage to make any kind of a run.
What we saw last year was one of the greatest stories ever told in the history of sports. The harsh reality of how much difference a year makes will be evident at some point in the next two weeks.
Either the Eagles bow out early in Chicago or find a way to survive another week, ultimately losing in New Orleans. Hope itself may be back with the return of Foles, but make no mistake, that on field magic from last season’s team is gone.
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