“Underdog” is a unique term. On the surface, it’s not glamorous. Essentially, when someone is labeled as an underdog, they’re expected to lose. However, the saying has evolved, a fact that’s evident when you look at the fanbase of the Philadelphia Eagles.
A fanbase that has has adopted the trend of wearing dog masks.
The Eagles have been underdogs in the betting lines for every playoff game this season, and the fans have fully embraced it. It’s not just the spectators, either. Chris Long, a defensive end for the team, wore a plastic dog mask on the field after the Eagles’ 15–10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
It’s a narrative that Philadelphia doesn’t have an issue with. In the days leading up to Super Bowl LII, it’s possible, or even likely, that they don’t have an alternative about how to approach the game.
Nick Foles is the ultimate example of a player that fits into that storyline. Foles, who didn’t become the starter until an injury took out then-MVP candidate Carson Wentz in Week 14, was nearly retired from the NFL after his career took a major downward turn. After throwing 10 interceptions in 2014, Foles was traded to the Rams, and things went so badly that he considered retirement.
Fast forward to the NFC Championship Game, and Foles threw a trio of touchdowns on the way to a 38–7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. He was fantastic, and he wasn’t expected to be. The Vikings came into the game as the favourites, but the Eagles were the team moving on to the Super Bowl to face the Patriots.
And New England is nothing close to an underdog. The Patriots came from behind to win Super Bowl LI, and they were Super Bowl favourites again from the moment they stepped on a football field to begin the 2017–18 season. New England ended the year with a 13–3 record. Tom Brady will be playing for his sixth Super Bowl win. The statistics and points that make New England the clear favourite could be read out by a speaker in the early hours of a morning, and there would be a good chance that they would only be finishing up their list while the sun sets behind them.
All that, and the Eagles have confidence. After all, they’ve been overlooked before, and it seems they quite enjoy proving their doubters wrong.