Two certainties about the National Football League:
-- Games are not played on paper.
-- Every year, at least one team shocks everyone by going from loser -- sometimes a big loser -- to the playoffs.
Welcome to the Philadelphia Eagles. Everything is in place for the team that went 7-9 last year to make the playoffs this winter.
We’re talking about improved receivers, deeper offensive line, impact rookie defensive end, at least one proficient cornerback and a quarterback in his second year with more upside than Philly’s 58-story Comcast Center.
Yes, as we said, games aren’t played on paper. But looking at the Eagles’ schedule, they could very well win these 10 games, in chronological order:
At the Redskins, home vs. the Giants, home vs. the Cardinals, home vs. the Redskins, home vs. the 49ers, home vs. the Broncos, home vs. the Bears, at the Rams, home vs. the Raiders and home vs. the Cowboys.
That’s an unrealistic 8-0 at home, but 7-1 is doable. Factor in a surprise road win, such as at the Panthers or Giants, and there’s your 10-6 record – surely good for a wild card or maybe even the NFC East Division title.
See you in January.
RANDOM SHOTS AND SECOND THOUGHTS
-- As a kid, I dreamed of living on a street corner with a baseball stadium, football stadium and horse racing track on the other three corners. In today’s dream, the three corners would be occupied by a casino, a Wawa and the Penn State University Park campus.
-- Greatest-ever inventions, No. 1,378: The Caprese salad. (It’s always sad when tomato season ends in Pennsylvania.)
-- More sports clichés on my do-not-ever-again-want-to-hear them list: “Measurables,” “emotional intelligence” and the most inane question ever asked of someone after he or she wins a game or match or tournament: “How does it feel?”