Eagles settling back into underdog role

Ed Benkin
November 16, 2018 - 7:17 pm
Philadelphia Eagles

Ed Benkin | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- It took ten weeks, but the Eagles are finally underdogs once again.

The defending Super Bowl champions are 4-5 on the season and are heading to New Orleans this weekend.  Despite being under .500, the Eagles were favorites in all nine of their games so far this season.  It will be a different story this Sunday when the Eagles take on the Saints.  New Orleans is an eight-point favorite to beat the Eagles, and many believe Doug Pederson's squad will be watching the playoffs from home.  The outside noise suits the Eagles well after an underdog run to the Super Bowl last season.  Now, they will see how they measure up against one of the teams many believe can replace them atop the football world.

"Each season is different," said Pederson.  "Our season is different, obviously, but we've got a stretch of games coming up where we're going to benchmark or a measuring stick is how good are we, and this is one of those games.  Coaches and players, not just players.  It's not all about the players.  Coaches have to prepare and study and put our guys in position.  It's a good benchmark for our team."

Learning where they stand could be a hard lesson on Sunday.  The rampaging Saints have won eight in a row and are coming off a 51-14 win in Cincinnati.  Quarterback Drew Brees is playing some of the best football of his Hall of Fame career and has a host of weapons to work with on offense.  When asked what makes the Saints offense different from others, Eagles cornerback Rasul Douglas smiled and gave the rather obvious answer.

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"They score every time they get the ball," Douglas said.  "It's very different.  They've been at third down probably about 20 times and punt the ball about twice a game.  We see stuff like that and that just means something's going on with the offense.  You've a got a great quarterback like that and you see why."

The underdog approach has taken a different path this season.  Last year, the loss of Carson Wentz forced many on the outside to pick against the Eagles even as they continued to roll towards the Super Bowl.  This year, they are 4-5, wounded, and showing all the signs of a team taking a step back after a Super Bowl season.  Pederson says his players have blocked out the outside noise and have prepared as well as they possibly could for the challenge that lies ahead in the Bayou.  

"This week has been really good," said Pederson.  "Guys have really responded to a lot of the....and listen, it's rightfully so, some of the negative criticism surrounding the team.  They see it, they read it, they hear it, and they responded well. They don't listen to it necessarily. They keep it at bay, but I think it's fuel for a little motivation, and they've responded well."

Maybe the Eagles are simply fooling themselves as they get closer to being pushed out of playoff contention.  Perhaps a loss in New Orleans will mean less if they win their next three contests against division opponents.  Regardless, the Eagles are now back in their familiar spot as an underdog.  Defensive Lineman Fletcher Cox hopes the underdog mentality will carry over on the road this Sunday as the Eagles once again look to get back on track..  

"It's the next football game for us," Cox said.  "We're coming off a loss and we've got to go on the road.  We always talk about if you want to be good, you have to win on the road and I think this would be a start to it if we get a big win on Sunday."