October 19, 2017
Heading into Week 7 of the 2017 NFL season, the Philadelphia Eagles have the fourth best odds to win the Super Bowl at 8/1 (+800). According to Bovada, the Patriots (4/1), Steelers (7/1) and Chiefs (15/2) are the only teams with better odds than the Eagles to win the Super Bowl. At 17/4 (+425), they're also the favorites to win the NFC.
And that’s for good reason.
There’s arguably no team playing better than the 5-1 Eagles, who are currently the lone one-loss team in the NFC – that loss just happen to come on the road at the hands of the only other one-loss team in the entire NFL, Kansas City.
On Monday night, the Birds will host Washington in a game that can give them a commanding lead in the NFC East.
Expectations are the highest they’ve been since Doug Pederson arrived last season – and with a young quarterback at the helm, managing those expectations presents a difficult challenge for the second-year coach.
Luckily, Pederson’s days a backup NFL quarterback gave him a firsthand look at what it takes to remain focused on football with this much noise surrounding the team. More importantly, being a part of that 1996 Packers team that went on to beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI taught Pederson not only how to focus, but how to keep winning as well.
Not surprisingly, the two go hand-in-hand.
“The biggest thing I remember from that team is it was always just the next game,” Pederson said Thursday. “It was always focused on the next game. You could honestly throw the wins and losses away. It was winning that week, being 1-0 that week. If you stack enough of those up, you put yourself in a position to be in the post-season.
“The other thing is I talk a lot with the team about ownership. This is that time of year, we're getting in that stretch of games, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, where teams begin to separate themselves. We can't have any letdowns [or] setbacks. We got to just be full steam ahead.
“It's about doing the little things now, meaning rest and hydration and extra study, or extra conditioning, things that sometimes you lose sight of in all the wins and the success that a team has had. Again, it falls back on my shoulders to make sure that the guys are doing those things at this time of the year.”
But Pederson isn’t solely relying on previous success to inform his current situation. That’s because he also remembers a much more recent team of his, one that started with tons of promise, but ended with a 7-9 record.
And he doesn’t have to look two decades into his past to keep himself grounded, either.
“For me, it's about winning this week and nothing further,” Pederson said, echoing the lessons he learned while backing up Brett Favre before shifting to more recent events. “A lot of football left. If you remember, I think we were 4-2 at this time last year. We have to be mindful of that.
Those are the things that motivate us and keep us going. There can't be a letdown. It's my job not to have that letdown with the team. I continue to address it with them and keep them focused that way.”
Only time will tell how well Pederson's message is being received by the team, but so far, it seems to be coming in loud and clear.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports