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Santoliquito: Expectations For Eagles May Be Too High

By Joseph Santoliquito 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It's approaching mid-July and the Phillies season appears over, the Sixers' summer league games garner more attention and we're quickly approaching what promises to be one of the most intriguing and fascinating seasons the Eagles will have in a decade—since they acquired Terrell Owens before the 2004 season—when they report to training camp on July 25.

Many in Philadelphia see the Eagles going further than the one-and-done playoff appearance last year in Chip Kelly's inaugural season, and there is a strong possibility the Eagles could.

As we sit here on July 8, however, the Eagles will have more than a few obstacles standing in their way as they try to step towards the Seattle's and San Francisco's of the NFC. Namely, climb four teams that are better than the Eagles right now.

On paper, the Eagles look like the fifth best team in the NFC behind defending Super Bowl champion Seattle, NFC runner-up San Francisco, Aaron Rodgers-led Green Bay, and the New Orleans Saints---who beat the Eagles in the wild-card round last year.

There's no questioning Seattle's dominance. The Seahawks were first in total defense last year, giving up an NFL-low 231 points and yielding a mere 273.6 yards a game. The Eagles, by stark contrast, were 29th in the NFL in total defense, surrendering 394 yards a game in 2013. Philadelphia also allowed opponents to convert 93 third downs, which was among the top six teams in the NFL, a dubious distinction, considering only Cleveland (109), Minnesota (102), New England (98), Atlanta (96), and Jacksonville (96) allowed opponents to make more third downs. It's no wonder four of those five teams did not make the playoffs in 2013 (and also don't have Tom Brady to hide a porous defense).

On the flip side, Green Bay was third in total offense (400.2 yards a game, and that was seven games without Rodgers) and New Orleans fourth (399.4 yards a game). Both teams made major improvements in the off-season, with the Packers adding Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Julius Peppers and the Saints becoming more dangerous with the addition of explosive Brandin Cooks.

With trips to playoff-caliber Indianapolis, San Francisco and Green Bay, and with Seattle and Carolina coming to Lincoln Financial Field this season, a 10-6 finish may not appear as likely as many in Philadelphia believe.



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