The Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots have been the gold standards of the NFL since about 2000. Of course, Eagles fans like myself know that grouping the Birds with the Patriots is problematic, given the differences in Super Bowl rings. However, Philadelphia and New England have each been perennial contenders for over a decade, despite the different end results.
Sooner or later, the Eagles and Patriots will stop making the playoffs and dreaming of Super Bowls, especially once their constants finally leave. Yet since the end of an era appears to be closer for Philadelphia than New England, it is another bit of proof at how the Patriots' dynasty has towered over the Eagles'.
The Birds have tried for over 10 years to win a championship under Andy Reid. But as it stands now, they have kept regressing and it has bottomed out with a 4-6 start to the season. A loss to the Patriots on Nov. 27 will likely kill any hope left for Philadelphia and put Reid further out onto the chopping block. That will hasten the end of an era defined by disappointment and near misses.
While the end of the Reid tenure is near - at least if fans have anything to say about it - the end of the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era is nowhere near in sight in New England. In fact, while the Eagles have lost most of their old leaders and may be about to dump Reid, the Patriots have kept Brady and Belichick around and have thrived even when they've changed the supporting cast.
There is no longer any guarantee that Reid can keep Philadelphia in contention for a Super Bowl. But as long as Brady and Belichick are in New England, the Patriots will always be in range to get another ring. In fact, while the Eagles have crumbled under adversity in 2011, the Patriots seem to have gotten through it and now have a clear path to the AFC East and home field advantage in the playoffs.
Still, just because New England remains a Super Bowl favorite doesn't meant that it can follow through as easily anymore. In fact, the Pats are starting to build a reputation as a postseason disappointment, as they haven't won in January since 2008. That kind of run is more fitting in Philadelphia, although at least Belichick and Brady got three rings before they started coming up short in the playoffs.
Maybe that is the big sign of how the New England dynasty is not what it once was. But even though it isn't what it once was, it is still enough to give the Patriots double-digit wins every year and keep them among the elite. On the other side, the Eagles aren't what they once were and they can't even get to .500 with a so-called "Dream Team."
But Philadelphia and New England have always been different in this way. The Birds' highs have never been high enough to match the Pats since 2001, so it makes sense that the Patriots haven't quite sunk as low as the Eagles yet either. Although these two teams have had the same prosperity for over 10 years, it seems that Philadelphia will never have the edge where it counts - yet it would be nice to defy that trend at least on Nov. 27.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.
Other stories by this contributor