Developing

Eagles Improbably Building Up Playoff Hype Again: A Fan's Outlook

The Philadelphia Eagles have teased everyone all season into thinking they'll be good again any time now. Every time the Eagles actually win a game or two, Philadelphians like myself believe that they are finally ready to be Super Bowl contenders again. That is even the case when the Birds 'improve' to 6-8, if one can believe.

Although the Eagles remain two games under .500 and still need to go on a four-game winning streak just to reach 8-8, they are becoming one of the favorites to win the NFC East. Once again, we have come to believe that a brief spurt of dominance will carry over for longer than a week or two, which has cost us before.

When Philadelphia knocked off the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 23 and Oct. 30, we thought that the Eagles would cruise through the rest of the season - then they lost the next two games at home. The Birds then upset the New York Giants on Nov. 20 to tease us into thinking they would turn it around this time - before the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks gave them a reality check.

Yet despite all of these harsh lessons, Philadelphia is gathering buzz as a potentially dangerous playoff team again. The easy wins over the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets, coupled with the struggles of the Cowboys and Giants, have made the prospect of an 8-8 Eagles team winning the NFC East somewhat sane. Despite how we all should know better by now to believe in this squad for more than two weeks, they are teasing us into hoping one last time that they've turned a corner.

This is the historical pattern of the Eagles in the Andy Reid era, although Philadelphia has usually at least made the playoffs, won the division or gotten to the NFC title game before finally letting us down. These Eagles haven't been above .500 since Week 1 of the season and can't finish above .500 without making the NFC title game. However, Jerry Jones is still professing to being "scared" of the 6-8 Birds, even though everything indicates that they are due to collapse again on cue.

Even if the buzz is correct and Philadelphia is ready to be hot again for more than two straight weeks, it could still be too late to make the playoffs if it doesn't get help. If that's the case and the Eagles finish 8-8 anyway without a divisional title, it will be all the more puzzling that they didn't get hot much earlier. We would then wonder what could have been and how dangerous the Eagles might have been in the postseason - although if they really were dangerous, they wouldn't finish 8-8 at best.

Given the misery throughout much of this season, it does make sense that one or two wins would be enough to make us hope it would all end soon. But Philadelphia has been burned one too many times by false hope to totally buy into the 2011 Eagles now - or so one would assume.

Perhaps this is finally the time when everything comes together for the Eagles after all. Yet after so many false starts, one can be forgiven for having a healthy bit of skepticism left.

Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.

Other stories by this contributor

Eagles playoff picture depends on unreliable Jets, Giants

Eagles, Redskins look more impressive than Cowboys, Giants

Steelers have no faith without Roethlisberger, divisional title

NFL power rankings after Week 15 inch Eagles up again

Eagles, Chargers wait too long again to get hot