Why the Eagles will win the Super Bowl


Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

There will be dog masks aplenty inside U.S. Bank Stadium, as Eagles players, coaches and fans have embraced their underdog status throughout the playoffs. While Carson Wentz’s injury seemed like a death blow to Philadelphia’s title hopes, the Birds are much closer to powerhouse than plucky underdog.

Let’s take a look at why Doug Pederson’s resilient bunch will win Super Bowl LII.

They have Fletcher Cox

There is, if you haven’t noticed, a bit of a blueprint for beating Tom Brady and the Pats. Teams need to knock Brady around, collapse the pocket from the middle and make him uncomfortable. Cox, though he doesn’t lead the Eagles in sacks, is the kind of every-down disruptive force that can make New England’s offense miserable and have the Pats playing from behind the sticks. If Cox isn’t double-teamed, he will likely destroy Brady and Josh McDaniels’ best-laid plans.

Cox has running buddies who aren’t half bad, either

Brandon Graham, Chris Long, Derek Barnett and the rest of Philadelphia’s front seven are talented, fast and give up very little, especially against the run. While the Eagles’ sack total wasn’t off the charts, they can get pressure from a variety of places on the field and will be mostly immune to one of Belichick’s favorite tactics, which is to take away the thing a team does best. The ability to win one-on-one matchups up front is arguably Philly’s greatest strength entering this game.

They can control the clock

As versatile as New England’s stable of running backs is, the edge in that department goes to the Eagles. LeGarrette Blount is a hammer, Corey Clement is a slippery change of pace and Jay Ajayi has simply been excellent all-around. Pederson has a runner for every type of situation and can mix and match to keep Matt Patricia’s defense off-balance. Ajayi especially is the kind of player who can take over a game if he gets going. The ability to move the chains and create favorable matchups will be crucial for Philadelphia, as it would kill two birds with one stone by keeping Brady off the field and giving the defense time to rest.

Nick Foles isn’t Carson Wentz, but he’s no slouch, either

It’s understandable why people felt the Eagles were done once Wentz went down with a torn ACL. He might be the league’s next great quarterback and was stellar all season. When Wentz is right, he is the kind of dynamic, true dual-threat quarterback who gives even the best defenses fits. That said, Foles delivered a gutty, steady performance against Atlanta and then exploded against Minnesota in the NFC Championship. Slant routes off of run-pass option looks seem like the Eagles’ bread and butter in the passing game, but if Foles is hitting on deep shots like he did against the Vikings, watch out.

They have nothing to lose

It’s cliché, but it’s true. Yes, it’s odd to see a No. 1 seed playing the “no one believed in us” card, but really, no one believed that the Eagles would win a single playoff game, let alone make it this far. Theirs is a postseason run defined by raising their level of play in the absence of their star. They’ve been underdogs all postseason and are again in Minneapolis. So far, they’ve thrived with that label. Why can't they do it one more time?

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"Co-host of the Starkey and Mueller Show on Pittsburgh's 93.7 The Fan, Monday-Friday from 2-6 p.m. ET. Owner of a dog with a Napoleon complex, consumer of beer, cooker of chili, closet Cleveland Browns fan. On Twitter at @ChrisMuellerPGH – please laugh."

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