I went to the Eagles game on Monday night with some trepidation. The Eagles had controlled the opener against the Lions, but only won by three. When I bet Drew on the outcome of this game, I was only giving him 2.5 points, meaning that the game was pretty close to a toss-up. I was worried about the Eagles defense, especially the defensive backs. I was worried about Jalen Hurts’s prospects against the Minnesota secondary. I was even worried about Eagles punter Arryn Siposs, who was ranked the worst in the league after the season’s first week.
I was being silly. I was being stupid. I was wrong. The Eagles scored on their first drive and never looked back. They beat the Vikings, 24-7, in a game that was never really in doubt. The secondary picked off Kirk Cousins three times and held Justin Jefferson to 48 yards and Adam Thielen to 52. Thielen wasn’t even targeted until the third quarter. Hurts completed 26 of his 31 passes for 333 yards and a long touchdown to Quez Watkins. (Two of those incompletions, including his interception, were drops by Philadelphia receivers.) He also ran for 57 yards and two scores. Receivers were open all night, but Hurts still made several big throws. And Siposs, who holds for kicks, ran down the Vikings’ Kris Boyd and made a touchdown-saving tackle after a blocked field goal. People in Australia are going wild about it! “America stunned by Australian punter’s freak play in NFL clash,” says one Aussie news outlet. “Former AFL player Arryn Siposs stuns America with freak play in Philadelphia Eagles’ win,” says another. The Eagles are making waves across the globe!
And now it is time for this paragraph. It’s two weeks into the season; the Eagles are only 2-0. But also, really, the Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl contenders. New WR A.J. Brown is the best receiver the Eagles have had in quite a while. The offensive line looks pretty solid. All the Eagles’ running backs are contributing. And after giving up 35 to Detroit in Week 1, the Eagles defense absolutely stifled a team that had just walloped the Packers last week. The Vikings didn’t pass 50 yards rushing until a Kirk Cousins scramble in garbage time got them there.
Don’t just take my word for it. “Eagles Super Bowl odds continue to improve after Week 2 win over Minnesota,” The Action Network says. The Ringer is considering if the Eagles are Super Bowl contenders. “Eagles show Super Bowl caliber in Vikings win,” NBC Sports says. A few sports pundits and analysts, notably Football Outsiders, had already declared the Eagles contenders in the preseason. Now everyone else is doing it, too.
More to the point, at least for me, is that the city has come to the same conclusion. A man trying to sell me something outside the supermarket this morning launched into a rant about how good the Eagles are after I declined to buy it. When I went inside, the PA was playing the Eagles fight song. Fans are buying in. A caller on WIP, one of the local sports talk radio stations, said that last night was the best atmosphere at the stadium since the NFC title game. This morning a caller asked which sportswriters were going to eat crow after Hurts’s masterful performance. (He singled out Bleeding Green Nation’s Brandon Lee Gowton and NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Reuben Frank; the hosts clarified that Frank has “liked Hurts for a long time now.”) A pal told me it was the best Monday Night Football game since a 54-11 win over the Bears in December 2013.
It was quite an atmosphere last night. Another WIP caller, who said he had season tickets, said there were no empty seats at kickoff; there usually are. Actual celebrities like Bradley Cooper, Questlove, M. Night Shyamalan, James Harden, and Bryce Harper were at the game. (In Philadelphia, this is as big as celebs get; the people immediately below them are our local news anchors.) Philadelphians are looking at the Phillies and see a team that, if it makes the playoffs, is probably going to go out pretty early. They have already shifted their attention to the Eagles as their best and greatest hope.
Maybe this is a mass psychogenic illness; that question does tend to recur where Eagles fandom is concerned. But if any team can really be a Super Bowl contender after two weeks, the Eagles sure look the part. Hurts is the key here; he was the preseason question mark. He has looked great! Honestly, his biggest duck of the night was his bomb touchdown to Quez Watkins, but that was still a pretty solid throw. He picked out Watkins very early, before he even fully broke open.
There is a mass love-in for the Eagles currently. They really do look like they’re good. So, yeah, they’re Super Bowl contenders. Why not?