Football fans from the city of Philadelphia are nervous, and rightfully so.
If the Philadelphia Eagles don't run the ball on Sunday, they're going to lose to the Green Bay Packers. If Dimitri Patterson doesn't resume ingesting whatever rocket fuel powered him in the fall, if Trent Cole can't get to Aaron Rodgers, the defense will be picked apart. And if Michael Vick gets bombarded with unblocked blitzers yet again, he'll be suffering from more than just a quad contusion.
Basically, it's already quite easy to summon from the never-empty well of pessimism. This is somewhat absurd, but I don't fault anyone for leaning towards Green Bay. Rodgers has been terrific since coming back from a concussion, and the Packers are certainly one of the more competitive six seeds in recent history. They've got a top pass defense and an absolute stud in Clay Matthews. It might be the worst possible match-up for Andy Reid's team.
Plus, the stink of the Vikings game is still prevalent in Philadelphia. That's the last time we saw most of the Eagles, when Joe Webb was rocking their shit up and down the field. The same Joe Webb who went 20-32 for 145 yards against the mediocre Detroit Lions in Week 17. It was one of those yearly Eagles events, when the team just flat-out doesn't show up and we're all reminded just how crappy they have the potential to be.
Yet, like that one movie title exclaims, hope floats. The Eagles have arguably the most potent offense in the league; 1st in the NFC in points scored, total yards from scrimmage, yards per play, rushing yards, yards per carry, rushing touchdowns, pass plays of 20+ yards, pass plays of 40+ yards. They can out-shootout anybody, maybe even the Patriots, and that is a way to win. Not the best way, not the time-tested "playoff" way to win, but it can be done.
And if the Eagles do win, their future looks very bright indeed. The Bears on the road wouldn't be a cakewalk, but I find it hard to believe that they'd beat the Eagles twice in a year, especially in Jay Cutler's first-ever playoff game. And then it's probably the Falcons, a team that Kevin Kolb dismantled a few months ago. Nothing about Atlanta particularly frightens me.
So I'm willing to go as far as to call this the much-vaunted "Game Of The Year." Win, and the Super Bowl is seriously in sight. Lose, and it's a repeat of last season's first-round letdown. The "is Vick the real future at quarterback" talk begins, not to mention a resumption of the "will Andy Reid ever win a Super Bowl" and "when does DeSean Jackson get paid" debates. And nobody, except maybe a cold-hearted sportswriter, wants that.
My prediction? A high-scoring game that goes down to the wire, a total crapshoot that either team could win. No outcome will surprise me, yet I feel like I've seen the Eagles come up short in games like these a hundred times before. I really, really don't want to disembark from the Michael Vick Experience, though, so I'm going to choose the Eagles. God help me, I'm going to choose the Eagles.