Fading Expectations Easier for Eagles Fans to Handle

Carson Wentz's torn ACL has, for many observers, ended the Eagles' Super Bowl chances. That injury coupled with shaky performances from Nick Foles has many fans resigned to another January failure.

It doesn't take an expert to explain the logic there. But allow me to find a potential positive out of the Wentz injury: The Eagles are no longer the favorite to go to the Super Bowl.

Philadelphia struggles with the emotional toll of being a favorite. Having lived in this area my entire life, I can't entirely explain this phenomenon but I know it's an absolute fact.

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Back in 2011, as the 102-win Phillies tore through the National League en route to a fifth straight divisional title, I remember wondering how the fan base was going to handle postseason games with the win-or-else expectations that had been placed on that season. 

After the Game 4 loss to the Cardinals in the NLDS, I remember my colleague Marshall Harris discussing the value of Game 5 being played at Citizens Bank Park. I countered that the Phillies would be better served playing that game at any other stadium on the face of the Earth. Fingernails were the primary dish on the menu that evening. The Cardinals scored two batters into the game and the ballpark that had been a carnival for the previous five years transformed into a morgue. Who knows how a fan base frozen in the fear of a dynasty derailed affected the final score but it sure felt like it played a role.

So what does that have to do with the Eagles in 2018? Now the Birds find themselves in the rare position of being the top seed and potentially having two home games to get to the Super Bowl while wearing the moniker of underdog. (Cue the Rocky statue shots on the national broadcast.)

With that in mind, Eagles fans should be able to put aside any nervousness concerning the playoff games. Wentz's injury and youth take the sting out of any defeat at this point. 

There should be many more chances ahead with the kid from North Dakota playing quarterback. (Save the Dan Marino-related pessimism for another time.) 

It's now time for Philly fans to be what they always claim to be. If you're going to the game, throw yourself behind the team completely. Be loud. Disrupt the opponent. If things go poorly, get louder. Keep cheering. Provide home-field advantage.

Wentz's injury makes the risk minimal. The reward, however, could be super. 

As a wise man once said, we're from Philadelphia and we fight.

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