When Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending torn ACL in early December, many decided to write the Eagles’ season off. Not just national “experts,” but also many local ones. For whatever reason, it didn’t matter that the Eagles had the fourth-ranked defense in the league. All of a sudden, the reasons listed as to why the Jaguars would win despite having Blake Bortles at quarterback weren’t looked in the same vein as the Eagles. It didn’t matter the Eagles, who for all intents and purposes, were undefeated at home this season and had home-field advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs.
Yes, Wentz was a legitimate NFL MVP candidate. However, he had some help along the way. And, despite how much of a fantastic season he had, that help isn’t all of a sudden leaving the Eagles. They’re still relatively healthy on defense. The run game has yet to be unleashed, which many think if a part of Doug Pederson’s game plan leading up to the playoffs.
While the odds aren’t exactly in the Eagles’ favor heading into Saturday’s game, that’s perfectly fine with Pederson, the Eagles, and me. The Atlanta Falcons were the NFC representative in last season’s Super Bowl. They should be given every benefit of the doubt due to their experience. However, the Eagles also demolished the Falcons at The Linc last season, as well. They were one of very few teams to actually defeat them.
And this Eagles team is better than last season’s. Much better.
Even without Wentz behind center, Nick Foles can make things happen if the offensive line gives him a chance. With Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz running patterns, Foles should be able to get them the ball and put them in positions to make plays. Of course, Jay Ajayi needs to come up big and have a great game on the ground, as well. But to think the Eagles have no shot to beat the Falcons is merely short-sighted and completely disregards the excellent coaching this team has had all season long.
It’s going to be a good game. The Eagles’ first playoff game since the 2013 season should have The Linc rocking like old times. And with a chance to host the NFC Championship Game the following week, look for Pederson to put Foles in every position possible to make him succeed.
Many fans and experts might be scared of the Eagles without Wentz on the field, but let’s give Pederson a chance to show us what he’s really made of as a head coach. After all, many of us were still wondering just how good he was before Wentz got hurt. Now, it’s his time to prove it.