Here's the latest roundup of what the national media are saying about the Eagles as they prepare for Sunday's matchup with the Packers.
If you missed my post earlier Saturday that included Troy Aikman's take on the game, Charles Barkley's pick and Marty Mornhinweg's future, click here.
I can't remember a game this season where more experts picked against the Eagles. On SI.com, nine of their 10 writers/analysts are going with the Packers. The only one who picks the Birds is Jerome Bettis, who expects them to get to the Super Bowl before losing to the Steelers.
SI.com calls DeSean Jackson one of the X-factors of this weekend:
Sometimes, the X-factor is the obvious one. The Eagles have big-time weapons all over the field, including Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin. But just ask the Giants ... or ask anyone who has held their breath whenever the ball winds up in Jackson's hands. He's a bolt of lightning. Sure, he can hurt his own team with celebration antics or other bad moments, but that's all part of the "X-factor." You won't know exactly how he will affect the game, or if it will be in a good way or a bad way. But Jackson definitely will have an impact.
Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com picks the Packers, 34-30:
After the Eagles’ dramatic 21-point fourth-quarter comeback against the Giants, I said they’d miss rookie safety Nate Allen the rest of the way out. I think Rodgers takes advantage of what might be the worst of the defensive backfields in the playoff field. Give me the Packers in a classic shootout.
Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports looks ahead and writes about the possibility of Michael Vick returning to Atlanta for the NFC championship game:
The potential for Vick to play the Falcons could be the biggest sporting event to hit Atlanta since the nation cast its eyes on Hank Aaron taking Al Downing deep for No. 715 in 1974. The 1996 Olympics in Atlanta would be an afterthought in comparison.
It’s the kind of event that could split the town because Vick has the unbelievable ability to polarize people. As much as the Falcons had to part ways with him, many fans here have yet to let him go. One Falcons employee said recently that he expects more fans to show up wearing Vick jerseys than Matt Ryan jerseys if the teams play.
Cole ranks all NFL quarterbacks and has Vick fifth, behind Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees:
Vick is the most talked about, compelling player of the NFL from both a performance standpoint and a social perspective. When he plays, it is impossible to take your eyes off of him. While that was true earlier in his career, there is an important difference. Back then, Vick was alternating between spectacular and spectacularly awful depending on the moment. From 2001-07, Vick’s quarterback rating never topped the pedestrian 81.6, yet he made the Pro Bowl three times based on his highlight-reel talent. Now, Vick is coming off a season when he posted a 100.2 rating and was a legit MVP candidate after harnessing all of his talents. Combined with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy, Vick and the Eagles have the most explosive offense in the playoffs. Beyond football, Vick is a focal point of all sorts of discussions ranging from redemption for convicted felons to race to what is fair punishment for a crime.
Pro Football Talk has the Eagles 11th in its power rankings.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk picks the Packers, 28-24:
In Week One, the Packers went to Philly and knocked out Kevin Kolb and opened the door for Mike Vick’s historic resurgence. A full 17 weeks later, the rest of the NFL seems to be catching up with Vick. Though he’s impossible to stop, the Packers need only to outscore the Eagles, and the gap between Green Bay’s offense and Philly’s defense is bigger than the gap between the Eagles‘ offense and the Packers‘ defense.
Gregg Rosenthal has Green Bay, 34-30:
Everyone is picking the Packers, which means the Eagles will win. Yet I still want to pick the Packers. The quarterbacks almost cancel each other out. I’d take the Eagles talent at the skill positions, but Green Bay’s continuity and experience is superior. The major edge here goes to Green Bay’s defense, which is capable of winning a game by itself. Philly needs Vick to be extraordinary to win. That could happen, but I’ll bet on the more complete team.
Our friend Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders has an outstanding preview piece up. I'll probably write about this more on Sunday, but the Eagles were extremely successful this season on six-man blitzes, limiting opposing quarterbacks to 3.0 yards per attempt.
The only problem? Aaron Rodgers torched defenses to the tune of 9.29 yards per attempt against six-man blitzes.
After looking at the matchup, Barnwell says the mathcup is extremely even and will come down to which team makes one or two mistakes.
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