Despite being the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the Eagles were home underdogs not once, but twice. Even after the Eagles sent home the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round, oddsmakers again made the Birds home underdogs against the Vikings, who needed a last-second miracle play to make it to the NFC Championship game in the first place.
We now know how that ended for the Vikings.
With the Eagles on their way to Minneapolis to take on the Patriots in a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX, it’s worth shining a spotlight on all the terrible Eagles takes offered by the nation’s sports pundits ahead of Sunday’s game.
NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin
Cowboys Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin, now an analyst for the NFL Network, offered a particularly bold take on NFL Gameday Sunday morning — that Eagles quarterback Nick Foles would be sacked eight times and throw for less than 88 yards.
That’s a very specific opinion. Apparently, Irvin’s prediction was based around the idea that Foles was the 88th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Funny, but it ultimately made the three-time Super Bowl champ look a bit foolish. But we’ll forgive him considering he called out Cowboys fans who cheered after Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was injured and said the Eagles could be at “the start of something of a great dynasty.”
FS1 host Nick Wright
There’s been one consistent storyline throughout First Things First’s first season on FS1— co-host’s Nick Wright’s blinding contempt for the Eagles.
All season, Wright attempted to rain on the Eagle parade. When the team was 7-1, Wright warned that that record could quickly turn to 11-5. After Carson Wentz’s season ended on an injury, Wright said the team had no shot. And heading into the playoffs, Wright called the Eagles “pretenders” and said all five other teams remaining in the NFC had a better shot of making the Super Bowl than the Birds.
But following the Eagles win over the Falcons, Wright offered a take that certainly hasn’t aged well following Nick Foles’ performance for the Eagles in the NFC Championship game.
“For [the Eagles] to win, they need Nick Foles to look like a player he isn’t…in Carson Wentz. The Vikings just need Case Keenum to look like Case Keenum,” Wright said heading into Sunday.
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) January 18, 2018
Of course, Foles did just that, going 26-33 for 352 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Keenum looked very much like the Keenum most of the league witnessed prior to this season.
To his credit, Wright issued an apology on Monday’s First Things First, noting that the Linc on Sunday night was the loudest outdoor stadium he’s every experienced (and even added there was a section of fans that started a “Nick Wright sucks” chant).
“There are few things in my sports life I’ve been more wrong about than I’ve been about these Eagles all year,” Wright admitted. “Philly was outstanding and I totally misjudged them this year.”
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) January 22, 2018
Every ESPN NFL expert except Dan Graziano
For two weeks in a row, ESPN turned to a stable of 10 ESPN experts (which included former Eagles lineman Mike Golic) to predict who would win during the playoffs. And for two weeks straight, NFL insider Dan Graziano was the only “expert” to pick the Eagles to win.
— Rob Tornoe (@RobTornoe) January 21, 2018
So what did Graziano see in the Eagles that caused him to buck the anti-Eagles trend of his colleagues?
“I never imagined that picking the conference No. 1 seed to win two playoff games would put me in such a unique position,” Graziano told Philly.com, adding that he felt good about the Eagles for a number of reasons, including they were at home and that a Vikings letdown after their last-second win felt like a possibility.
So do the Eagles have a chance against the Patriots?
“I think if you size up the rosters next to each other, you can make a case that Philly’s is better overall,” Graziano said. “ But man… Brady, Belichick, all that experience… that’s a lot to overcome… Absolutely the Eagles can win, but this time it’s a lot easier for me to see why they’re underdogs than it was the past two weeks.”
Ex-NFL GM Michael Lombardi
By now, nearly all Eagles fans know that Michael Lombardi, a former NFL general manager and NFL Network analyst who now works for The Ringer, hasn’t been the biggest fan of Eagles head coach Doug Pederson.
While he’s far from the only pundit to criticize the Eagles for hiring Pederson, Lombardi took his coach-hating rhetoric to new heights, claiming, “He might be less qualified to coach a team than anyone I’ve ever seen in my 30-plus years in the NFL.”
Making matters worse was Lombardi’s unwillingness to back away from his criticism during his weekly appearances on SportsRadio 94.1 WIP. Last week, Lombardi finally admitted that Pederson had been a better coach than he predicted, but added the caveat, “I’m not sure how great of a coach Doug is.”
Following Sunday’s win, Lombardi finally relented, admitting that Pederson has officially won him over.
“Making Wentz great was not sure it was him. Getting Foles to play this well is him. Hat off. Respect,” Lombardi wrote on Twitter.
doug pederson won me over. Making Wentz great was not sure it was him. Getting Foles to play this well is him. Hat off. Respect.
— Michael Lombardi (@mlombardiNFL) January 22, 2018