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November 26, 2017

The Eagles are the best team in the league – and they want to make sure you know it

Eagles NFL

Doug Pederson swears he preaches humility in the locker room. Carson Wentz rarely misses an opportunity to deflect praise onto his teammates – and never forgets to compliment his opponents, even if he and the Philadelphia Eagles just demolished them on the field. 

But there's another side to the Eagles, the one that the unlucky team standing between the Birds and their next victory, as well everyone watching, sees each Sunday – a team that will embarrass you on the scoreboard and make sure you know about it. They're like the bully that beats you up and then laughs as he steals your lunch. They're confident, bordering on cocky. 

The Eagles are dripping with swagger. And at 10-1, they're more than backing it up.

Winners of their last nine, including three straight by 28 points, the Birds can clinch the NFC East with a Cowboys' loss on Thursday night (or a win over the Seahawks on Sunday). When you're playing that well, it's hard not to have a little fun along the way.

“Honestly, I haven’t [had this much fun before]," safety Malcolm Jenkins said following the Eagles' 31-3 win over the Bears on Sunday. "I’ve been on a 13-0 team in my first year in the league. As a rookie, I was so locked in on trying to prepare and play that I really didn’t get to soak it in and enjoy it. Obviously, this is my ninth season and I’ve been taking it in. 

"This is definitely the most fun I’ve had in my career.”

But are the Eagles getting a little too confident?

"They need to hurry up and get off the field before we get a penalty, a delay of game or something, because the clock is running," Pederson said when asked if he'd been paying attention to the celebrations. 

Then again, a delay of game penalty isn't really going to hurt you when you're already up three scores. There are, however, other pitfalls to celebrating like a 1980s Miami Hurricanes team. 

Like Icarus, the Eagles need to be careful not to fly too close to the sun, because swag only goes so far, especially when you're destroying everything in your path. You make a lot of enemies, ones that will remember how you performed a choreographed dance after sealing a victory the next time you play against them.

Luckily, the Eagles won't be seeing the Bears again this season, so we can sit back and enjoy their first-class celebrations.

"I mean, listen, I let them – I think it's great," Pederson continued. "I think it's great that they can show the excitement, the enthusiasm, and they are doing it with their teammates. It's not about one guy, which this team has really embraced that. It's a team effort and it is fun to see."

That's a part of this I'll admit that I hadn't considered before: the team aspect of it. Only one player actually gets to carry the ball into the end zone, but 10 other guys were involved in the play. And as we saw with their celebrations on Sunday, all 11 players (and sometimes more) often get involved.

Perhaps these group celebrations should be viewed as an extension of that humility and unselfishness that Pederson and Wentz project each week when they step to the podium, rather than some opposing force. 

They're having fun, and that's contagious. 

“It’s just straight-up fun. We have a lot of fun," said wideout Nelson Agholor, who scored a pair of touchdowns in the win. "I have a blast. I like having fun; talking to my teammates during plays. Whether it’s third-and-long or third-and-manageable and it’s big-time situations, there has never been so much confidence because it’s fun. We want to make big plays. We want to be there."

Wentz is the obviously the leader of the offense, but he's the first to admit that he's not the one calling the shots when it comes to his team's post-play antics. 

"I just show up and try to figure out what the heck we’re doing," the second-year quarterback said. "We don’t plan anything, but I think the defense plans theirs, as you can see. But it’s cool to see everyone out there having fun. You can see everyone jumping in them and joining, and that’s just the brotherhood that we have right now. It’s a blast."

While the offense was clearly enjoying themselves, it was the defense who stole the show on Sunday. 

"I think guys are enjoying the process every week and so when we’re here on Sundays and it’s game time, we cut loose," Jenkins said. "We work hard so we feel like the least we can do is have fun out there. It gets the crowd involved and excited. 

"That permeates throughout the whole team."

It certainly did on Sunday, as the Eagles had plenty to celebrate. 

*  *  *

You've already seen they're family photo following Ertz's TD, so let's take a look at three other celebrations from their win over the Bears:

THE THRILLER


Following his sack of Mitchell Trubisky on Sunday, Fletcher Cox ran over to Jalen Mills and they broke out a little of the "Thriller" dance, which was the most underrated of their celebrations in Week 12.

As for the attitude in the locker room... 

"We just have to stay humble," said Fletcher Cox. "We can’t go out and be a big ‘Rah-Rah’ team. We have to keep everything about us and continue to show the league what we can do on Sundays."

BOWLING GREEN

This celebration gets a 9/10. It would've received a perfect 10 had wideout Alshon Jeffery not dropped the ball – and I mean this quite literally.

"I wish I would have rolled the ball," said Jeffery, who hauled in five of his nine targets for 52 yards and a touchdown against his former team. "It is something we have been saving up for a couple weeks now. It worked out.”

So how did they come up with this one, which required all 11 players – one bowler and 10 pins – in order to be properly executed?

"Just talking with one another," he said. "We are just rolling with it."

They're "just rolling with it" ... get it? GET IT??

THE ELECTRIC SLIDE

The Birds actually broke this one out twice, first after Rasul Douglas' non-interception that was overturned on review and then again after Corey Graham's pick late in the game. This one was so inclusive it even featured some guys who were no longer in the game because it was such a blowout, like Malcolm Jenkins. (Is that even allowed?)

"Obviously, being a veteran of the group, I don’t know some of the new dances that are out there," Jenkins said with a laugh. "For me to partake, it had to be something that was go-to that everybody could participate in."

*  *  *

Watching a team play with this much swagger is fun – unless you're on the other sideline.

"If you do not want them to do it, just stop them," said Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. "You do not say anything [back to them], you just stop them."

Against the 10-1 Eagles, that's easier said than done.


Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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