While the other three road teams in this weekend's NFL wild-card games need worry only about their opponents, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers must steel themselves not just for the 11-5 Eagles but for chaos and concussions, loudmouths and ligament damage, angrily thrust fingers, and aching turf toes.
For all its aesthetic shortcomings, Veterans Stadium does provide Philadelphia with a distinct home-field advantage.
If quarterback Donovan McNabb is the prince of Philadelphia, (Andy) Reid is king. He is a strong coach of the year candidate, taking the Eagles from 5-11 last season to 11-5 this year. Reid has been successful because he is a smart X's and O's tactician and he can also relate to players, the latter skill being one of the more difficult for a professional football coach to acquire.
N.Y. Times News Service
The Eagles were not expected to be in this position. This was to be the season for getting positioned for next season, when they would begin the turnaround.
Instead, they skipped over that part and proceeded directly to the post-season, capitalizing on a pacifier schedule that saw them defeat only one playoff team, the New Orleans Saints. The Eagles were 3-5 against teams with .500 records or better.
So now the Birds find themselves in a position that is both giddy and exhilarating, but also dangerously seductive. The temptation that beckons to them is the dreaded just-glad-to-be-here syndrome.
The tendency in such situations _ and it is eminently human _ is to want to bask in the afterglow.