Ask most Philadelphia Eagles fans prior to Monday night, and they would have told you that the 2015 NFL season was just a formality.
Philly sports radio, the national media, practically everyone said that the Eagles are headed to Super Bowl 50, without a doubt. Just give Chip Kelly the Lombardi Trophy now because this rebuilt Birds roster is pretty much unstoppable. Kelly is a genius and a visionary so why waste his time having to play the actual games?
Then Monday night happened and now, everyone’s not so sure.
The Eagles lost a very winnable game on Monday Night Football 26-24 against the Atlanta Falcons and their first year head coach Dan Quinn. Despite a strong second half from Sam Bradford, it wasn’t enough to overcome a lackluster first half, numerous penalties, a terrible performance from corner Byron Maxwell and some very questionable play calling by Kelly.
All of a sudden, doubt has crept into the conversation in regards to the Eagles winning the Super Bowl this year. Not much mind you and almost every fan will deny thinking it, but the doubt is there.
It’s why the Eagles took a serious hit in the national power rankings on NFL.com after the loss, nosediving nine spots to #19. Even Las Vegas has lost some faith, adjusting their Super Bowl odds from 17/2 before Monday night to 12/1 currently.
Not exactly the way Chip Kelly wanted to start the season.
Which makes this Sunday’s game all the more important and possibly a “must-win” for the Eagles just two games into the NFL season.
The Birds will be facing off against their hated arch rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, in an NFC East matchup at Lincoln Financial Field. Philadelphia always gets excited when the Birds play the Cowboys and it should be even more intense with Dallas WR Dez Bryant out for the game and Eagles RB DeMarco Murray facing his former team for the first time.
Yes it is very early in the season and there is still a lot of football to be played. However, if the Eagles want to make a serious run at the playoffs and the Super Bowl, they need to win these NFC East match-ups. Losing games like this have a nasty habit of coming back to haunt teams down the road and you can be sure the Birds don’t want to be in that situation come Decmeber.
More importantly, if Kelly wants to silence all the doubters, all the analysts and fans who questioned the moves he made this offseason and wondered just what he was doing, the Eagles need to win this game.
Losing to the Falcons started a trickle of uncertainty about Kelly and his rebuilt roster and questions have begun to rear their ugly head. Questions about not going for it on 4th and 1 with the game on the line and instead depending on the increasingly undependable Cody Parkey. Questions about the balance of the play-calling and if the Eagles might be overpaying Murray and Maxwell.
The best way to silence all the doubters? With a win. And not just a win, but a big, lopsided victory against the hated Cowboys.
On the other hand, if the Eagles lose against Dallas, expect the questions to become louder and louder and Kelly to placed under the microscope by the media and the fans. And we all know how much he enjoys that.
Anyone will tell you that Week 2 is a bit too early to panic and that no game is a must-win at that point in the season.
Except when it is.