Right now is possibly the best time to be an Eagles fan.
Any sports columnist worth his or her salt should be writing about the Philadelphia Eagles as contenders for the 2019 (and 2020!) Super Bowls. This was a powerful change for the Eagles, since this is their first Super Bowl win. Although Philly’s beloved team may not be under dogs in terms of odds this time around, they will need to triumph over the (seemingly constant) Bowl favorites New England Patriots. Some predict that quarterback Tom Brady will return this season with a vengeance. But could this actually work in the Eagles’ favor?
The Patriots were visibly unsettled after the Eagles won Super Bowl 2018 41-33. However, it’s fair to say that the team maintains its status as strong championship contenders as long as Tom Brady is quarterback and working with head coach Bill Belichick. Although rumors of retirement were floating around last year, Brady has made it clear that he plans on playing into his early forties. For the fifth year in a row, fans and critics expect the Patriots to go to the Super Bowl. So it could be Tom Brady vs. the entire Eagles lineup again. Will this ever get boring? Not if the Eagles continue their pattern of performing well as a team.
Making time and league history
The Eagles outperformed preseason expectations last year, and the numbers say that their odds of making it to Super Bowl 2019 are 10-1. However, those odds increase for the following year, even making them the number one contender. Compare that to the upcoming Bowl, where they are behind (in order) the Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams. Although the odds are measured before the season even started, they certainly aren’t concrete. The Eagles earned their iconic image of being the underdogs when they soared above and beyond. Injuries and nerves are just two things that can tank a team’s spirit and their odds, but if the Eagles have taught us anything in the last year, you can also rise above and beyond. But what’s in store for this year, according to training camp and the preseason games played so far?
Training camp began with seeing some old faces return to the field after extended absences, and new players who were eager to get on the field and see how they performed. Here’s why this Eagles preseason indicates that they will go to the Super Bowl again in 2019.
We are the champions
Let’s see who will make a triumphant return this season.
This season is starting out strong. MVP quarterback Carson Wentz returns to the lineup after being out for injuries starting in December last year, after he tore his ACL and LCL, causing him to have knee surgery and sit out the rest of the season– including the Super Bowl. However, during training and the first couple of preseason games, and might even be throwing harder. Although saying someone has a chip on their shoulder usually implies you’re holding a grudge, a chip in shoulder pads allows players and their coaches to actually measure their throws. Both Wentz and coach Doug Pederson are optimistic that Wentz will make his long awaited triumphant return. Fans are confident that he’ll find his stride very quickly, but it may take him a few games to really get back in the swing of things.
Although fans will be happy to see Wentz back on the field, Nick Foles is a close second quarterback. The Super Bowl MVP is getting ready for a hyped season after being hailed as a Philadelphia hero throughout 2018. Although Coach Pederson described the Eagles as being “Wentz’s team”, Foles proves that he’s a valuable quarterback after triumphing over the Patriots during 2018’s big game. Now, the key is for him to bring the game– especially in the case that Wentz re-injures himself, or gets taken out of play if the risk gets too high.
Another future injury comeback kid is linebacker Jordan Hicks, who tore his Achilles tendon in October last year, which was ended Hicks’s last season very quickly. He’s showing signs that he’s just about healed and is already getting his speed back. One key element for him will be ensuring that he doesn’t re-injure his Achilles, or end up with another injury that could be risky for the rookie.
New kids in town
In addition to the players fans know and love, some newcomers to the team also make the outcomes seem even more optimistic.
Wide receiver Kamar Aiken is already making an incredible impression in the preseason games. He’s speedy, focused, and clearly has all the strength you need to take on the opposition. Even though he hasn’t had long to make an impression, Pederson is already praising the new addition. Aiken has previously played for the Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, and Indianapolis Colts.
Cornerback Avonte Maddox has received plenty of praise from his new teammates and coaches. He’s ready to both compete and communicate with his fellow teammates, and is aiming to be on the starting line. His time played during the preseason games will really determine how he’s meshing with the team, and if he’ll advance as much as his potential indicates.
Underdogs running the field– and the league
Last season, critics were surprised when the Eagles ended up exactly where they did– and they earned it. But not that we’re starting a new season, the question is whether they will be able to handle the new attention– and the prospect of potentially facing off against the Patriots later on in the season. But the Eagles have shown us before, they don’t respond to the pressure. They rise to the occasion, and even Coach Pederson is saying they have an ever stronger lineup this season. The depth of this new team and the reach of their talent makes them strong contenders to get to the Super Bowl, and take home the Lombardi trophy two years in a row.