By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA, PA (CBS) — Bob just moved to the Philadelphia area 15 months ago from the southwest area of the country and was excited to enter “Eagles Land.” The nearest NFL team was over 100 miles from where he previously lived. He got to experience part of Carson Wentz’s rookie year. He saw Wentz mature in a year’s time into becoming an NFL superstar. He heard about the Eagles of old, of the Andy Reid years, when annually making the playoffs seemed to be a given, and how Philadelphia momentarily was rocked by the fool’s gold Chip Kelly was pedaling his first year when the Eagles won the NFC East and hosted the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs.
Bob was looking forward to how an NFL city reacts to a playoff game, when the Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons this Saturday at 4:35 P.M. at Lincoln Financial Field in the NFC divisional round.
“And then blah,” he said, laughing. “There were college football games where I come from that had more enthusiasm than this city seems to have about this playoff game. I’m more fired up than my co-workers for this game, and I’m an ‘outsider’ who just joined the fanbase. It’s like everything deflated around here when Wentz was lost. Sure, guys will watch the game, but I don’t think anyone really thinks that the Eagles have a chance to win—except me, the guy not from Philly. It must be something in the water around here.”
It begged the question: Are Eagles’ fans tempering their enthusiasm for this upcoming playoff game against Atlanta with the cold, hard reality that the Birds aren’t being picked to win?
It was deflating when Wentz went down on December 10. It’s been even more depressing the way the offense has lurched and stuttered under Nick Foles.
The Vegas lines are saying the Eagles are a 2.5-point underdog.
“This is a team that believes in itself, and we’ve kept the outside [noise] right where it should be, outside,” said Eagles’ defensive end Brandon Graham, who should have been a Pro Bowler this year. “We’re counting on our fans on Saturday. That’s important for us. They’ll have a say in this, I know they will. As a defensive lineman, any noise is good noise if it disrupts what the other team is doing.
“The fans will be ready for this game. You’ll see. And for the doubters, they can climb on board, too. We love doubt. We’ve been doubted the whole year. A lot of people didn’t think we’d even make the playoffs let alone have the best record [in the NFC]. We’re hosting a playoff game. We’re playing the defending [NFC] champs. The place will be going crazy. Count on it.”