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Eagles break out underdog masks after playoff victory

The No. 1 seed in the NFC is embracing its unprecedented "underdog" playoff status.

Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Lane Johnson and defensive end Chris Long took the "underdog" notion a step further, donning canine masks following the Eagles' 15-10 victory over the favored Atlanta Falcons.

Doug Pederson must be loving this situation. Every coach in the history of sports yearns for a situation to spur his troops with the 'nobody believes in us!' bulletin board material. Some will go so far as to conjure such cliched motivation where none exists.

In the Eagles' case, most of the football world stopped believing in their chances of winning a Super Bowl the moment Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending ACL tear on Dec. 10.

"When did Carson go down? Since that point, no one's given us a chance," Pederson said after Saturday's victory. "I understand Carson's a great player, but every week our guys are hearing the same thing. Now, all of a sudden, we're not good enough? We're 13-3, best record in football, home-field advantage throughout.

"The guys are gonna motivate themselves based on what they've heard for the last month. It really doesn't matter what you guys talk about, because [our] locker room is united. I'll go to bat for every one of those guys. I'll go to war for every one of those guys in that dressing room."

Will Saturday's victory turn the storyline from underdogs into home favorites? Don't bet your last copper penny on it.

Nick Foles did just enough against a powerful offensive line and a smothering defense to get the win, but his mediocre play overall -- particularly in the first half -- will slow the tide of critics jumping back on the Eagles' bandwagon.

Philly players are already preparing to play the underdog card once again when they face the winner of Sunday's Minnesota Vikings-New Orleans Saints tilt.

"I would imagine we're probably not going to be favored next week, either," Johnson said. "At this point in the season, it really don't matter; it's anybody's game."

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