Eagles

Eagles are biggest Super Bowl champ underdogs in nearly a decade

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Eagles are biggest Super Bowl champ underdogs in nearly a decade

The Eagles are the reigning Super Bowl champions, but they're limping into New Orleans with a 4-5 record to play the best and hottest team in the NFL. 

The Saints (8-1) opened as nine-point favorites. 

That's significant because the Eagles are the biggest defending Super Bowl underdogs in nearly a decade. 

According to Bovada, the last time a defending Super Bowl champion opened as nine-point 'dogs was back in November 2009, when the Steelers went on the road to face the Ravens. Coming off a win in Super Bowl XLIII, the Steelers were 6-4 when they traveled to Baltimore to face the Ravens, who were 5-5. 

The only reason the Steelers were such big underdogs in this game was that Ben Roethlisberger suffered a concussion the previous week and the Steelers started backup QB Dennis Dixon. This was one of three career starts for Dixon. 

Still, the Steelers covered, losing 20-17 in overtime. 

While the Eagles reveled in their status as underdogs last year on their way to winning Super Bowl LII, this is the first time they've opened as underdogs this season. So it's pretty amazing that their first time as an underdog is by nine points. 

So far, 74 percent of bets are for the Saints to cover the large spread. It seems many people are counting the Eagles out. 

"It's a natural position for us," Malcolm Jenkins said. " We're used to that. It's probably more comfortable."

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Nick Foles, Andre Dillard, Josh Adams in Roob's random points

Nick Foles, Andre Dillard, Josh Adams in Roob's random points

Josh Adams vs. Miles Sanders, Nick Foles’ future, Philly Special, Rodney McLeod and lots more in a must-win edition of 10 random Eagles points! 

1. We’ve spoken so much about the Eagles’ slow starts, and at this point it sure seems like it’s in their heads. They come out early in games and it looks like they’re fighting themselves. They don’t look loose or fluid or relaxed until they’re down 10-0 or 14-0. Then all of a sudden they spring to life. They’re just not the same team in the first quarter and it has to be mental. How else do you explain an NFL-worst 41 first-quarter points and an NFL-high 12 scoreless first quarters since opening day last year? They’ve led after the first quarter just FOUR TIMES in their last 18 games. They’re 4-0 in those games, 6-8 when they haven’t. Since last year began, the Eagles are the seventh-highest scoring team in football after the first quarter. Whatever’s going on, Doug Pederson has to figure it out. 

2. Josh Adams had more than twice as many yards as Miles Sanders on his first 21 career rushing attempts (107 to 53).

3. Watching that Jaguars-Titans game the other night I couldn’t help wonder what’s next for Nick Foles. Maybe he gets healthy, gets his job back later in the season and Gardner Minshew II goes back to the bench. But in three games since Foles got hurt, Minshew has completed 74 percent of his passes with 5 TDs, 1 INT and a 110.6 passer rating. No rookie in history has put up those numbers in his first three starts. He’s 23, and he’s the Jaguars’ future. If he keeps playing like this, Foles may be looking for a new home once again.

4. The Eagles are going to finish playing at 4 p.m. Sunday and get on a plane for Wisconsin about 70 hours later. Thursday night games should not exist.

5. How are the Lions going to attack the Eagles Sunday? Here’s a hint: The Eagles are third in the NFL in rushing yards allowed and 30th in passing yards allowed. They’re only the third team in NFL history to allow more than 650 passing yards and fewer than 90 rushing yards through two weeks. Hmmmmm.

6. I wonder how long a leash Doug Pederson will have with Isaac Seumalo. I like the way Seumalo played throughout camp, but Sunday was a catastrophe. Without Stefen Wisniewski waiting in the wings, the options are Big V, who worked at right guard throughout camp, undrafted rookie Nate Herbig, who was a center in college, and Matt Pryor. May be time to think about moving Jason Peters to left guard with Andre Dillard at left tackle. If you want your five best linemen on the field, that would be the way to go.

7. It’s impossible not to root for Raheem Mostert, who began his career in 2015 as an undrafted rookie running back with the Eagles. He’s since been released by the Eagles, Dolphins, Ravens, Browns, Jets and Bears, and once he finally got a chance to play, last year with the 49ers, he broke his arm. But he is a talent. He’s got 191 yards from scrimmage in the 49ers’ first two games this year – 11th-most by a running back in the NFL -- and his 6.7 career rushing average is highest in NFL history by a running back with at least 50 carries. In his first 30 career games Mostert had 50 yards from scrimmage on 15 touches. In the last seven, he has 460 yards on 58 touches. 

8. Out of all the guys who got hurt last year, missed time in training camp but still made it onto the field by opening day — Ronald Darby, Fletcher Cox, Rodney McLeod, Nigel Bradham and Brandon Brooks — McLeod is the only one who really looks like himself so far.

9. There is no way there are nine better plays in NFL history than the Philly Special. I’m not sure there are any.

10. The Eagles have gone a league-long 35 straight games without a 100-yard rusher:

• Their last one was LeGarrette Blount, who had 136 yards against the Chargers Week 4 of the 2017 season. 

• The 35-game streak is the Eagles’ longest without a 100-yard rusher since a 43-game stretch between Cyril Pinder’s 128 yards against the 49ers at Kezar Stadium on the final day of the 1969 season and Tom Sullivan’s 100-yard game against the Giants at Yankee Stadium in Week 2 of the 1973 season.

• They’ve gone 23 straight home games since Ryan Mathews had 109 yards against the Falcons in 2016.

• The only active player in the NFL who’s had a 100-yard game in an Eagles uniform is LeSean McCoy.

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Rodney McLeod shows off love for Batman with custom cleats

Rodney McLeod shows off love for Batman with custom cleats

Each week, I go through the Eagles’ media guide to find one interesting fact about a player and ask them about it. 

This week, I talked to Eagles safety Rodney McLeod. 

DZ: It says if you could be any superhero, it would be Batman. 

RM: Yeah. 

DZ: Always a a big Batman fan?

RM: Yeah, for the most part. I just, you know, kind of gravitated towards him. Yeah,  just watched a lot of the movies, honestly, growing up and then, shoot, had a Batman game I think on Super Nintendo. I used to play that. So I think that's where my interest kind of started, then the movies came out. The Dark Knight and Batman Begins are two of my favorites. And I'm actually, I’ve been doing like a sequel the first two games, cleat-wise. 

NOTE: McLeod has gotten custom Batman cleats made for him by Soles By Sir, who has also made cleat works of art for other Eagles players. 

DZ: Oh, really? 

RM: Yeah, like original Batman 1989, the Joker. Batman on this one. And then last week, I did the Batman jawn underneath. Oh, and then I had the Penguin on here. 

DZ: You wear them, what, pregame? 

RM: Nah, nah, I wore them in the game. 

DZ: You wore them in the game? 

RM: (Showing off his cleats) Yeah, these are Atlanta, first game I wore these. Probably wear them again this week. 

DZ: You’re really into it. 

RM: Yeah, yeah, man. Something I kind of mapped out before the season. Just like the mentality and everything. 

DZ: That's cool. 

RM: Yeah, so I wanted to do something different. 

DZ: As a kid and stuff were you ever Batman for Halloween? Was that a go-to? 

RM: Yup. I did Batman one year, then I actually did the Joker another. 

DZ: OK. The Joker's the best villain? 

RM: I think so. 

DZ: Got any more (cleats) planned this year?

RM: So, yeah. Kind of going through them. So the next one will probably be the Batman Forever with him, Robin, Ice Man (Mister Freeze), Joker and Two-Face. Everyone was in that one. So, I don't know, I’ll probably do like two cleats. I always do Batman on one and then fill in on another. And then a quote or something like crazy like that. 

DZ: That's cool, man. 

RM: Yeah, trying to keep it going. 

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