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Five reasons why the Eagles will make the 2018 NFL playoffs

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Wondering if and how your NFL team can make the playoffs in the coming season? Adam Rank and Marc Sessler have you covered in this ongoing series, as they provide five reasons why each of the league's 32 teams will make an appearance in the 2018 postseason. Today, Rank examines the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Eagles are the top dog in the NFL right now. But as spirit-leader Jason Kelce recently told our own Kyle Brandt on "Good Morning Football," that dog still needs to eat.

"We've been a starving dog for 52 years and one bowl of food isn't going to suffice the appetite," Kelce said. "We're still very much hungry. We're still ready to get after it. And we're vying to repeat this year."

Credit Kelce for sticking with the dog-themed mantra that worked wonders for the Eagles last year. Even though the hungry metaphor kind of plays like the NFL version of "The Aristocrats," as something nearly every Super Bowl winner says. Warren Sapp told me something similar when we talked months after the Buccaneers' Super Bowl XXXVII championship. I think he said it was like a king at a feast or whatnot. But the same sentiment.

Coincidentally, that Buccaneers team was the last defending champion to not win at least eight games the following season. So history is on the Eagles' side. And here are five other reasons why they will make the playoffs again.

1) These Eagles still seem like underdogs

Philadelphia had one of the most amazing, improbable runs in recent Super Bowl history. I mean, I know this was the NFC's top seed -- but Philly was without quarterback Carson Wentz. While the Eagles are celebrated in the 215, they don't seem to get the credit around the country. Everything is still all about the Patriots, like they are the NFL's version of Poochie. Where was Malcolm Butler? Is Gronk going to retire? What kind of bread does Tom Brady use with his avocado toast? This dog certainly isn't getting its due. This is like when CM Punk was the WWE champ, but everyone only talked about John Cena. If the Eagles want to wear those dog masks again, I'm here for it.

2) Doug Pederson

I remember watching Pederson out there rocking his polo shirt and dad jeans during Super Bowl LII Opening Night and thinking, This dude looks like he'd be just as comfortable throwing down pitchers at McCusker's Tavern in South Philly. He even looks like the kind of guy who would sit at the end of the bar and say stuff like, "Hell, I'd go for it here on fourth down. I DON'T CARE IF IT IS THE SUPER BOWL." The only difference is that he's actually doing that. In the Super Bowl. When you do crazy [stuff] like going for it on fourth -- calling for your tight end to throw a pass to your backup quarterback -- it gives your players the feeling they can do anything. It's infectious.

"You learn if you play passive, if you play conservative, you are going to be 8-8, 9-7 every year," Pederson told Peter King after the Super Bowl triumph.

Preach. When your coach is afraid of his own shadow, that negatively impacts you, your team and the fans. I should know. I'm a Bears fan.

3) Jim Schwartz

The inevitable raid on coaching talent claimed Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich (now the head coach in Indianapolis) and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo (offensive coordinator in Minnesota). But I would suggest Pederson kept his most important assistant in the fold. Jim Schwartz fielded a pretty dominant defense last year. Yes, smart guy, the Eagles did give up a ton of points in the Super Bowl. But they made the stops when they needed to. And what's frightening to think about: The defense could be better this year. Why? Well ...

4) They are the new Raiders

The old-school Raiders. No, not Jon Gruden's first run. I'm talking your dad's Raiders. Those Raiders were like the Island of Misfit Toys, taking castoffs like Lyle Alzado, Jim Plunkett and others, and winning championships. The Eagles showed some of that last year when they acquired perceived malcontent Jay Ajayi, who ended up making a huge contribution. Chris Long also sort of fits into that mold, too. Although he's now more of a mercenary coming off back-to-back Super Bowl wins. And the Eagles have added Michael Bennett, which is huge. I mean, not like Kevin Durant joining the Warriors, but huge. Philly also brought in Haloti Ngata and Mike Wallace, guys who seem like they are past their primes, but will probably end up having huge years.

5) Carson Wentz is back

This seems totally fair, no? The Eagles win the Super Bowl with Nick Foles (who was great), and now they have Wentz coming back from the torn ACL that kept him from taking part in the playoffs. This is like when you order a burrito and discover guacamole added for no extra charge. Like, this was already amazing, now it's even better. But here is where it really helps ...

No team has repeated as Super Bowl champion since the Patriots more than a decade ago. Teams get complacent. There is no chance Wentz comes in complacent. He's going to be more motivated than ever to get his Super Bowl ring. Because if he doesn't, you know Foles will remind him every chance he gets. (Probably not, because Foles is a good dude. But I know I would be busting Wentz at every turn. I mean, I'd be in the commissary getting soup every day, asking Wentz if he wanted anything from my super bowl of soup. I'd do that because I'm a jerk.)

So the Eagles are going to the playoffs. Go ahead and book it.

Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @adamrank.

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