By Joseph Santoliquito

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There is a collective unspoken sense among the Eagles that they enter 2014 knowing they can win—and should win. It’s a canyon-sized disparity from where they stood this time last year.

With Chip Kelly’s system fully accepted, with some former players that didn’t fully buy in jettisoned, and with the experience gained from going 10-6 and being NFC East champs instilling more confidence, the Eagles find themselves light years ahead of where they expected to be and thinking of bigger things this season.

“The attitude we have going into [2014] is that we can definitely win, and that is where the difference between last year and this year coming into the season is more confidence,” defensive end Cedric Thornton said. “We’ve been together for a year now, guys are gelling and guys are respecting and relying on the guy next to you to make plays. It’s great to watch.”

Thornton said he ignores all of the high predictions and talk of repeating as NFC East champions. So do others.

“I really don’t think is that much of a change when it comes to approach, regardless of the higher expectations that other people have,” center Jason Kelce said. “For me, I don’t approach things any differently. The confidence level is naturally higher, because there is a familiarity with the coaches and the system just from working with them more. But I can’t over-emphasize this enough, if we think we’re the biggest dog on the block, we’ll lose track of the focus that it takes to week every week. That’s what this whole culture is founded on, and to me, that hasn’t changed.”

Evan Mathis has been through both the good and the bad in his four years with the Eagles, from 8-8 in 2011 when he arrived in Philadelphia, to 4-12 in 2012 and last year’s 10-6 finish. As a starter during what will be his 10th NFL season, Mathis has only been in the playoffs twice.

“I think overall there is more comfort and more confidence, and that comes with experience e all have from doing this for a year, and for the new guys coming in, they’re going to learn faster than we learned because they have people that know better who they can absorb information from,” Mathis said.

Brandon Boykin can see something big looming—and especially on the defensive side.

“Everyone is comfortable with the scheme and we have confidence in ourselves,” the defensive back from Georgia said. “Last year was an unknown. I think that we can contend for a championship just like any other team. I don’t see why not. We have all of the capabilities to do it. I’m not looking that far ahead, but when it comes to the potential, I definitely believe we’re a team that +could go all of the way. If you don’t believe that, you shouldn’t even be here.”


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