February 01, 2023
Mail time! The Eagles are one win away from winning their second-ever Super Bowl title, so there's no better time to get some questions from Birds fans and discuss this championship run. I'm sure Jimmy Kempski will have other mailbags before next Sunday, but I'll hold you over until then. Let's get after it...
@ericjfink: What was your favorite moment so far while covering the team this year? I need a Super Bowl prediction
So this was my first year covering the Birds as an official, credentialed media member, not just some idiot screaming on the internet. Big step up! I picked a pretty good year to start doing this, as I covered the best regular season Eagles team of my lifetime, a dominant force that's gone 16-1 so far with their starting quarterback in the lineup. The team made my job a hell of a lot easier by being this great and giving me ample story ideas.
I have two moments that come to mind.
I traveled up to the Meadowlands in early December for the Eagles-Giants game. I bought a New York take on a cheesesteak that was disgusting and wrote about it. There's nothing a Philadelphian loves more than getting all worked up over cheesesteaks.
I watched the Birds demolish the Giants and throw up 48 points while the defense recorded seven sacks, including three from Brandon Graham, his first career three-sack game. I spoke to Graham after the game and did a story on him, as he talked about still having "juice left in the tank."
I drove home after on I-95 blasting "Jagged Little Pill" by Alanis Morissette. It was a good day and I felt like a real journalist, though a goofy and irreverent one at that.
The other was the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers. As media members were let into the Eagles' locker room following the win, it looked and smelled like I was at Ashton Cigar Bar. The totality of "the Birds are going to the Super Bowl and it's actually my job to write about them" moment smacked me in the face. This is a lot better than being a roofer or a copywriter at Urban Outfitters, I'll tell you that!
As for my Super Bowl prediction, I want to go big with my pick against Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. How about a 38-20 win? Haason Reddick has 2.5 sacks, including a sack-strip-touchdown return trifecta that has him winning Super Bowl MVP.
@lwrncjones: Are you concerned about Hurts' recent accuracy issues?
"Concerned" would be too strong of a word for me. Jalen Hurts is still dealing with the ramifications from his Week 15 shoulder sprain. His timing was off against San Francisco. His missed deep ball to A.J. Brown is a touchdown nine times out of 10 during Hurts' MVP-worthy regular season. That feels more like timing than true accuracy woes.
With an extra week off and more preparation, I'm anticipating that Hurts is at his best on the NFL's biggest stage next Sunday.
@treblaw: What non-SB activity are you looking forward to in AZ
PhillyVoice will have a presence at the Super Bowl. Our own Jimmy Kempski will be there all week long and covering the game itself at State Farm Stadium. I am flying out Monday morning, hitting the media festivities the next couple of days and catching a red eye back to Philly late, late Wednesday night. I'll be down in South Philly for Super Bowl Sunday. It's the equivalent of Bane telling Batman that he came back to die with his city.
I woke up to snow on Wednesday morning in Philadelphia, so the weather will be a significant upgrade. I'll be be able to see the sun? I can get some more serotonin from it actually be light out? Sign me up!
Additionally, it'll be nice to link with some other media members. I went to high school with the Los Angeles Times' Tyler Tynes and haven't seen him in a minute, so that's a plus.
Honestly, I've never gone on a work trip like this before and just being somewhere else for a bit of time is refreshing.
@FranzkeLA: Rank the cities where the Eagles have played Super Bowls in terms of place you’d least want to live full time
This will be the fourth Super Bowl the Birds have played in. Super XV was in New Orleans. Super Bowl XXXIX was in Jacksonville and Super Bowl LII was in Minneapolis.
Super Bowl LVII is technically in Glendale, but I'll fudge this and go with Phoenix for the sake of this exercise.
With the brutal winters and the fact that I'd be surrounded by whiny Vikings fans, Minneapolis would be dead last easily.
New Orleans is definitely the "coolest" of these cities, but New Orleans feels like a place you'd go for four days and have the time of your life and be completely burned out, not a spot you'd want to live in 365 days per year.
Jacksonville is the Wild West of the Southeastern United States. I'd be lighting off fireworks with Jason Mendoza in a Nick Foles Jaguars jersey every Friday night. That could be fun, but it's not necessarily the lifestyle I want.
Phoenix, with the weather and by process of elimination, is the safest bet of these spots.
2. New Orleans
4. Almost anywhere else
@Jonzee72: Alternate history of the season if Howie manages to trade for Wilson/Watson/A.N. Other?
The short answer: We're not discussing an Eagles-Chiefs Super Bowl right now.
The long answer: Deshaun Watson would've been a disaster both on and off the field. Watson was suspended for the first 11 games of the season amidst the numerous sexual misconduct lawsuits leveled against him. The feel-good vibes of this Eagles run go out the window with that. This would've caused Gardner Minshew to begin the season as QB for the Birds and while he's one of the game's best backup quarterbacks, he wouldn't have been able to carry the Eagles far enough to be in a position to make the playoffs by the time Watson returned to the field.
The Eagles would also be without A.J. Brown because those draft picks would've been sent to Houston for Watson, so the offense would've been even worse with Minshew than we saw in Weeks 16 and 17. Not good!
As for Russell Wilson, it's a similar situation, but without the gross non-football stuff. Former Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett was clearly overwhelmed and unqualified to lead a team at this point in time and the trio of Nick Sirianni/Shane Steichen/Brian Johnson would've been a massive upgrade for Wilson, but the Eagles aren't these Eagles if it's Wilson under center instead of Hurts. The weapons would be worse sans Brown and the run game wouldn't be as proficient without Hurts' ability with his legs. In an improved NFC East, the Birds would've been lucky to be a Wild Card team.
I'll say everything worked itself out.
@Austin_Jon: Most important players minus the qbs, Chris jones and Reddick
The best player of the guys that weren't mentioned is Lane Johnson. As Johnson goes during his Philly tenure, the Eagles go. Johnson is in full-on warrior mode playing through his torn abductor and he's stonewalling Defensive Player of the Year candidates as he does it. If Johnson can continue this Herculean run even with this injury, the Eagles are going to come up victorious.
Outside of Johnson, can I just go with the entirety of the Eagles' linebackers and safeties that will be tasked with covering potential GOAT tight end Travis Kelce? T.J. Edwards will need to do so at times, as will Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. This is more "slow down" than "shut down" territory, as no one ever really has been able to completely neutralize Kelce, who's somehow even better in the playoffs than he is in the regular season.
With an inconsistent and injury-plagued wide receiver group, Kelce is Kanas City's lone legit pass-catching threat. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon cooking up the gameplan of his life to make life difficult for Kelce is of the utmost important for the Birds. Kelce has to be bracketed.
@IrishIggles: Early shout for Super Bowl MVP? Seen decent odds for Reddick.
My philosophy on betting Super Bowl MVP is that, often, you're better off betting a given team's quarterback to win MVP than you are betting them moneyline. 11 of the last 16 Super Bowl MVPs have gone to the winning team's QB. For instance, the Eagles are -125 to win the Super Bowl outright on DraftKings Sportsbook. Hurts is +110 to win MVP. That's a nice little bump with plus money.
This Eagles team has showcased that they're able to crush teams, even good teams, without Hurts needing to put up dominant offensive stats. That's not a slight to Hurts, but a credit to his gravity as a quarterback because of his ability as both a passer and runner. It's fun to throw a couple bucks on some longer shots.
Reddick opened at +4000 for MVP and those odds have already gone down to +3500. If you're taking a non-QB for the Birds, I love that bet because he's the dude who would've won a hypothetical NFC Conference Championship Game MVP. It's not common for defensive players to win SB MVP, just four have done so this century, but I draw a comparison to Denver's Von Miller winning in Super Bowl 50. Miller was a true game-wrecker and Reddick is playing up to that level right now.
If you're feeling spicy, I'd throw $5 on Kenny Gainwell to win at +20000 with a total payout of $1,005. I'm getting some 2017 Corey Clement vibes from him. He's played the best football of his young career this postseason, totaling 195 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in two games. The Birds use him as a third-down and two-minute drill running back, so there's TD upside with him, too.
Back in Super Bowl LII, I took Clement +25000 to win MVP. Clement had 108 yards from scrimmage and when he caught that 22-yard third quarter touchdown from Nick Foles, I thought I had a real shot of cashing that. Foles ultimately deserved to win running away, but, hey, that was a good shop. There were no worries for me, as I had taken the Eagles +4000 to win the Super Bowl the day they signed Alshon Jeffery in March 2017, so I took home a decent amount of money in perhaps the lone great bet I've ever made.
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