The Philadelphia Eagles welcome the Minnesota Vikings to the city of brotherly love for the NFC Conference Championship game. Philly, the home of the great Rocky Balboa and the city with the worst NFL fans (I mean, who in their right mind boos Santa Claus?), will host its first conference championship game since the 2004-05 season. Back then, Donovan McNabb was taking snaps under center instead of begging for women to have dinner with him. But hey, let’s give McNabb a break, he was probably just starving. One more win and the Eagles will be flying high into the Super Bowl.
Can Philly keep winning without Carson Wentz? The Eagles are a three-point underdog at home for the second consecutive week. This team dominated all season long, and quite frankly Wentz — the best red-headed quarterback in the league — was a massive part of that success. Wentz was having an MVP-type season in his in second year in the league, and I am not convinced that he still shouldn’t be considered a contender to win.
Through 13 games, he had thrown 33 touchdowns with only seven interceptions, but Philly has been without his guidance since his season-ending surgery on December 10. He was statically better in almost every category from last year and was fourth in QBR among quarterbacks attempting at least 400 passes. Wentz was fantastic, but he had a lot of help on both sides of the ball.
We all know how good Zach Ertz is. I know most of you all reading that statement started thinking back to fantasy football and either agreed with an enormous smile because he was on your team or shook your head in misery after painful memories of defeat. It isn’t just Ertz, though.
Philly also has a guy named Nelson Agholor, and this year has been nothing but spectacular for the rising star at receiver. Agholor had the best year of his young career, scoring eight touchdowns and became a go-to target. His best game came against the Seattle Seahawks, where he brought in seven receptions for 141 yards. Take that, Byron Maxwell.
The offensive weapons were sweet treats for Eagles fans and Wentz, but the defense doesn’t get enough credit.
The Eagles defense was impressive all year long. Seven times they held opponents to 10 points or fewer. Statistically, they finished No. 4 in interceptions with 19 and No. 12 in forced fumbles. The Eagles have a tough-minded defense and are arguably one of the top four defenses in the NFL, only giving up 18.4 points a game (just 6.6 points per game in the Eagles’ past three games). In fact, Philly has only given up 14.2 points at home during the past two seasons. The defensive interior is nasty, making it hard for any opponent to establish a running game, which means more pressure on Vikings’ quarterback Case Keenum. This defense is too significant for the Eagles to be overlooked.
This game will not be easy for the hard-nosed Minnesota Vikings.
The Eagles are without their star quarterback, and for that, they are getting no credit. The offensive playmakers are still playing, Fletcher Cox and the defense are still playing — oh, and don’t forget about Nick Foles, who isn’t a cupcake even if he does kind of resemble Sunshine from Remember the Titans. It was just a couple of years ago when Foles had a 27:2 touchdown-interception ratio.
This team is much more than Carson Wentz. The Eagles are a complete squad ready to prove doubters wrong despite a No. 1 NFC seed. Just like I haven’t forgotten about the fans booing Santa, I haven’t forgotten about this team and neither, should you.