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Eagles Must Keep Rising Up Against the Elite: A Fan's Outlook

Yahoo Contributor Network

The Philadelphia Eagles have a very tough task ahead on Oct. 28. Eagles fans like myself are already worrying about a potential free fall, and facing the 6-0 Atlanta Falcons doesn't stand to make it any better. However, although Philadelphia has struggled a lot this year, it tends to do better against elite competition.

The Eagles have played down to their opponents for much of the season, as they struggle to beat teams they should win over more easily. But when they have taken on tougher competition, like the Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants, they have actually risen to the occasion.

The Ravens and Giants have been the Eagles' two best opponents this year, and they've beaten them both - regardless of the tight, sloppy circumstances. But while Philadelphia has done pretty well in facing these Super Bowl contenders, taking on less scary opponents has been a tougher task.

The Eagles have struggled to beat the now 1-6 Cleveland Browns, lost to the now 2-4 Detroit Lions and were slaughtered by the now slumping Arizona Cardinals. And while they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers at the last second on Oct. 7, the Steelers haven't been at their usual elite level yet. So technically, that was another blown chance against a less than stellar adversary.

When the Eagles take on teams equal to or inferior to them, things don't go very smoothly. However, they have overachieved in beating two superior teams already. Still, the Ravens were far more elite back on Sept. 16 than they are now, considering all their recent injuries, while the Giants have become elite again after losing in Philadelphia on Sept. 30.

But by this pattern, the Eagles should actually do pretty well when facing the Falcons, despite the recent slip-ups and Atlanta's unbeaten record. It doesn't make that much sense to do better with the elite than with far easier opponents - and it makes it more inexcusable that Philadelphia can't take care of business when it's supposed to.

Still, the Eagles can't afford to lay down against anyone, much less the best team in football at the moment. If it takes facing elite adversaries to fire Philadelphia up, that's something the Birds will just have to live with. It's provided some of the only highlights in this season, so the team will take what it can get. And in any case, they won't look alive for much longer if they can't continue this pattern.

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

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