Philadelphia, PA (AP)– The dog masks aren’t going anywhere.
The Philadelphia Eagles (14-3) are home underdogs again. Case Keenum and the Minnesota Vikings (14-3) opened the week as 3½-point favorites in the NFC championship game on Sunday.
That’s just fine with the Eagles, who embraced their underdog role against sixth-seed Atlanta. Philadelphia was the first No. 1 seed in league history not favored to win its first playoff game.
After beating the Falcons 15-10, Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson and veteran defensive end Chris Long mocked doubters by wearing German Shepherd dog masks as they walked off the field.
The dog masks have become a popular item in Philly since the players wore them Saturday night. The team announced fans can wear them on Sunday as long as they take them off during security check entering the stadium.
“To have a lot of people not having a lot of confidence in us and yet to find ways to win just makes it that much more special for this group,” coach Doug Pederson said Monday.
Expectations for the Eagles have dropped since Carson Wentz tore his ACL in Week 14. Nick Foles is 3-1 in his place with the only loss coming in Week 17 when the starters only played one quarter.
But the offense clearly isn’t the same without Wentz, who is an MVP candidate after tossing 33 touchdown passes in 13 games.
“Since that point, no one has given us a chance,” Pederson said. “Nobody has given us a chance. And I understand, Carson’s a great player, but every week, our guys are hearing the same thing; that now we are all of a sudden not good enough. We’re 13-3 and have the best record in football, we’ve got home-field advantage throughout.”