Bill Simmons probably didn’t imagine The Ringer becoming the chief employer of the Philadelphia media diaspora, but life is full of surprises. Longtime fans and first-time callers may have already surmised a degree of Philly bias based on the disproportionate amount of short films we have produced about their franchises. We few, we misunderstood and rarely happy few, decided to gather and commiserate about the Eagles’ upcoming NFC championship game on Sunday. Welcome to the Nest. Birds welcome, no cowboys allowed.
Chris Ryan: I can start us off with a confession: I’m happy to be playing the Vikings and I think we’ll win. I would much rather write this down on a piece of paper and mail it to my future self as proof of my prognostication skills, but I do it all for the content. Even if that means being the Mush. There are numbers—offensive and defensive DVOA, for instance—that suggest Minnesota is a better team, even before you take into account the Wentz factor. But this is the playoffs, and if I’ve learned anything from a decade-plus of Andy Reid, things are different in the playoffs.
My argument is simple: The Vikings have already peaked. Their NFC divisional playoff game against the Saints featured one of the greatest endings in recent football history, introduced the world to Stefon Diggs, and possibly ended the Drew Brees era in New Orleans. Those accomplishments will be their playoff party favors. Thanks for coming, get home safely.
There is no way the Vikes can prepare after the Miracle in Minnesota. Somehow, the NFC championship, and the prospect of playing in the Super Bowl, AT HOME, is going to feel like a comedown. We’ve got ’em right where we want ’em. Tell me I’m wrong.
Jordan Coley: I agree. The Vikes are all out of magic beans. They’re feeling inside their magic Viking bean pouch right now, and it’s empty. They spent it all to get here. The Eagles, on the other hand, traded Carson Wentz’s left ACL for a sack of beans and Nick Foles. If the 2013 season with Chip Kelly showed us anything, it’s that Foles can string together more than a few games of playing vastly above his true ability. We got this.
Michael Baumann: What astounding hubris. The hell is wrong with you?
Ryan: I also have a habit of saying, “Looks like smooth sailing” around Exit 6 of the New Jersey Turnpike, whenever I’m driving north, only to be drowned in a sea of crawling Hondas outside the Woodrow Wilson rest stop. So don’t listen to me, basically. Also, I don’t believe in jinxes. I just believe in my takes.
Baumann: I told a friend that if the Eagles won Sunday he could watch the Super Bowl at my place, and afterward I regretted wasting the sliver of cosmic wiggle room Nick Foles gives you on that.
I’ve just got 30 years of watching Philadelphia teams shitting the bed when confronted with unloseable late-stage matchups. Sorry to turn this immediately to defeatism but you put six Eagles fans in a group chat—it was always going to end that way.
Ryan: I thought we were going to lose last week! We’re playing with house money, and the house keeps handing us “nobody believes in you” chips. This is great! I mean this with all due respect to my favorite tackling dummy since Kevin Kolb: Every game with Nick Foles is loseable!
Baumann: The Flyers are retiring Lindros’s jersey this week. They blew three of these in five years with him on the team.
But I agree with you that the Vikings are going to have a hard time coming down emotionally from last week. After all, the Eagles got crushed at home by a mediocre Panthers team the week after fourth-and-26.
Coley: No Eagle has ever meant more to me than Freddie Mitchell. Please don’t throw that play around lightly.
Lindsay Zoladz: Dilly dilly, bird brains. Maybe I am idiotically optimistic, but I feel like Sunday is a win-win for us. We win, well ... we win. We lose, we get to pull the Wentz card coming into next season, like, “If this team was strong enough to get this far in the playoffs with Foles, just WAIT till we’ve got Wentz back next year.” The reality of course could be different (and probably will be, this is a Philadelphia sports team we’re talking about) but regardless I think that “what if” will at least sustain some hope throughout the offseason, worst-case scenario.
Also can we discuss this photo of Carson Wentz looking like Mr. Peanut?
Baumann: I’m not sure how much there is to debate, because he definitely, 100 percent, looks like Mr. Peanut.
Zoladz: Also, on a purely juju level, I am feeling positive because the first Eagles game I ever went to was a 2001 matchup against the Vikings, and the Eagles beat them 48-17. It was also one of the first games after 9/11, and when we were waiting in line to get into the Vet (REST IN POWER) a bunch of already-drunk fans led everyone in a rousing “FUCK OSAMA” chant. The memories! I didn’t join in, for several reasons, but one of which being that I was embarrassed to say the F-word in front of my dad.
Zoladz: I guess the real question is, does Wentz look more like Mr. Peanut or Prince Harry?
John Gonzalez: My favorite part about this so far is the cops told people to avoid Philadelphia’s Frankford and Cottman area if the Eagles win because they can’t protect everyone from the maniacs sure to descend on the area.
Northeast Philly: Police telling business owners they can’t really guarantee their safety if the Eagles win the NFC Championship pic.twitter.com/Q51vUZKEGw— Ryan W Briggs (@rw_briggs) January 17, 2018
Side note: Wentz is dressed perfectly for a riot at Frankford and Cottman.
Dobbins: This just reminded me that NBC (ABC?) did a 10-minute investigative montage on the time Philly booed Santa during the Christmas game. I enjoyed it.
Wait, or did you guys throw snowballs at Santa?
Gonzalez: Jesus, that just jogged my memory. Realized I had a dream last night about Jay Ajayi scoring a touchdown while there was a fight in the stands and the announcers missed the play because they were too busy admonishing Eagles fans for their conduct. Keep your eyes on the game, fake biased announcers in my head!
Dobbins: Oh Christ, this just gave me a flashback to last week’s game, during which my husband kept yelling, “Where’s Ajayi? Where’s Ajayi?” for 20 minutes like a kid lost at the mall.
This is a good time to note that I’m in this chat in the role of “concerned but supportive partner” rather than “person who is from Philly.” And let me tell you: I’m extremely supportive and concerned.
Gonzalez: Quick story about Eagles fans traveling well. When the Eagles played here in L.A. in December, my buddy Dave the Greek came out to visit. Dave the Greek and I were on Venice Beach on Saturday before the Rams game, and we see a bunch of dudes—maybe six or eight people—and half of them are smoking cigarettes. Real ones! In L.A.! And half of them are wearing jorts. And they’re all wearing Sixers or Eagles shirts.
So DTG goes up to one of them—DTG is naturally wearing a “Sunday is for the Birds” shirt—and the following conversation ensues:
DTG: Hey, you guys from Philly?
Random dude: Yeah
DTG: What part?
Rando: South Philly
DTG: Oh yeah? My buddy TK is from South Philly. You know TK?
Rando: Yeah I know TK … [takes out pack and lighter] … cigarette?
Baumann: I feel like a poser because I don’t have a friend with a name like Dave the Greek. But I’m not from Philly, I’m from South Jersey, where everyone’s named Mike.
Anyway. Nick Foles. That’s what this is all about.
Dobbins: I am already imagining the emotional silent film you guys will make about Nick Foles in a month.
Baumann: I fear Nick Foles more than I fear death. I don’t think I’ve ever hated an Eagle more.
Gonzalez: I think Danny Kelly tweeted this stat: Foles completed only three passes beyond 10 yards last week. And I was like … that many?
Baumann: I’m worried about his ability to throw downfield in the Super Bowl if they turn on the air conditioning.
Ryan: He was good in the second half against Atlanta! He went 23-for-30! Game management!
Dobbins: I literally sat in a room with you for the first half of that game. I watched you watch it. You are a smart and good man. YOU HAVE TO PROTECT YOURSELF HERE. You guys will throw snowballs at Santa but a guy manages to not throw three interceptions in a half and everyone is like “We got this.” Help me understand!
Gonzalez: Irrational confidence comes before the fall. This happens in every single NFC championship.
Baumann: Also, the Falcons are bad. Chris and Gonzo have lived in L.A. so long they’ve lost touch with their deep inner sadness.
Dobbins: Can I say something mildly positive without jinxing this?
Baumann: You think Markelle Fultz can throw a football farther than Nick Foles?
Gonzalez: Brett Brown: Foles doesn’t need to throw a football to impact an NFL game.
I’m sorry, Amanda, you wanted to be mildly positive.
Dobbins: Too soon for Chris. I was going to say that at least Philly has a defense, but then Gonz’s joke kind of made that point. As long as Nick Foles does not throw the football, then it might be OK! Except that the process of watching it will be excruciating, because defense-only games are boring and stressful. That was why I said “mildly.”
Zoladz: How close are we tech-wise to giving Carson Wentz a robot leg? As in ... will that technology exist in the next two weeks? Asking for a friend.
Ryan: I’ve thought about this a lot. I’d give him my knee cartilage but I don’t know if it would help.
Zoladz: You know there’s gonna be at least ONE guy bringing some knee cartilage to the game Sunday. (Don’t be that guy, Chris.) Should we keep talking about Foles or nah?
Baumann: He just makes me so sad. Because even if he wins he validates the shitty white backup QB fantasy every WIP caller peddled my entire childhood and like—obviously I’d take a Super Bowl appearance under those circumstances, but it’d be a pyrrhic victory.
Tanya Hubbard: Philly has heart. It’s a rough city (You should walk the streets on trash day if you don’t believe me.) I miss it. Come Sunday, Philly might have burned every piece of purple clothing in the city. THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!! The score might be 42-10. I’m not joking.
Ryan: There she is.
Hubbard: I’m going to tell a personal story about meeting Nick Foles and why I think all this happened for a reason ...
I worked at a restaurant named Buddakan in Philly. Nick and his gorgeous wife, Tori, sat in my section. They both treated me so kindly and were so interested in me and my life. They were very in love, and I overheard very sweet and kind words back and forth to each other all night. Long story short, Nick looks up at me and says, “You have something, I can see it, follow your dreams.” Tori nodded in agreement. In that moment, I thought, WOW WHAT A GUY! WHAT A COUPLE. THAT’S SPECIAL. Also, they tipped me $200 on a $150 check. So, yeah, I’m all in on Nick Foles and I hope he throws for 400 yards Sunday.
Ryan: Holy shit.
Zoladz: That’s beautiful.
Baumann: I am furious that Foles is a nice guy.
Dobbins: I would feel a little bad for Wentz if the Eagles won the Super Bowl without him?
Ryan: Gotta admit, I would not feel bad for Wentz, because I would be too busy feeling good about me.