players went above and beyond to embrace their underdog status in the first game against the Falcons. So much were they into it that two of their veteran players, defensive end Chris Long and right tackle Lane Johnson decided to buy German Shepherd masks for the team just to get in full underdog mode going into a game which Eagles odds against the Falcons had the former losing the matchup.
In detailing how the whole idea came about, Johnson intimated that as the two vets were having a discussion over lunch, everybody kept on calling them, underdogs. So they decided to buy the masks as extra motivation for the team. Eagles odds against the Falcons didn’t look promising entering Saturday’s divisional round one match up with their sixth-seeded rivals coming into the game as three-point favorites. The Eagles organization used this opportunity to sell the idea that they were being disrespected, hoping to fire up their team; going as far as hanging up copies of predictions by analysts which were picking the Falcons to win.
The same strategy was used by Philly in the NFC Championship game to steal a 15-10 win against Atlanta. The winners then went on to don the dog masks after the match.
Eagles Coach, Doug Pederson pointed out how everybody had written them off after their quarterback went down. He was referring to the injury suffered by Carson Wentz's, an ACL tear on December 10th that hurt Eagles odds against the Falcons. No doubt Carson was going to be severely missed, but the media went overboard in reminding the players how they weren’t good enough every week. This, despite the fact that they had the best football record in of 13-3; which meant home-field advantage throughout. He further said that the team was going to derive motivation from all the talk discrediting their chances and it didn’t matter what the media said because the locker room is unified.
Losing Wentz understandably led to doubts about the Eagles’ chances in the playoffs, and the shaky performance of Nick Foles, who was his replacement for the rest of the season, did little to improve the situation. On Saturday, the offense wasn’t impressive and only found the end zone once. However, their defense stepped up when needed to come up with a big stand in the shadow of the end zone as the game came to a close.
As a result, the Eagles advance and will be waiting for Sunday’s game between New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings to know who they’ll be facing in the next round. Philadelphia
retains home-field advantage but come Saturday, would be underdogs against either team they face (Vikings -4.5, Saints -3), according to the Westgate Sportsbook.
In spite of the Eagles earning the deserved respect after turning the tables against the Falcons, Johnson says he will still keep the dog mask just in case. After all, it is too early to call it at this point of the season; anybody can claim the prize.