Against Packers, Eagles don't like being viewed as underdogs

Posted: January 06, 2011

Quintin Mikell isn't a hat guy.

Yesterday, Mikell held court in front of his locker wearing the black and white cap that proclaimed the Eagles the 2010 NFC East champions.

It was a statement:

It seems every national talking head on the airwaves is picking the wild-card Packers to win in Philadelphia on Sunday.

Sports Illustrated sent out a press release yesterday touting NFL writer Peter King's prediction.

A straw poll of venerable Daily News prognosticators revealed a decided Green Bay bias.

Mikell and his defensive cohorts don't like it.

"It seems like everyone forgets. We're division champions, and that's not easy," Mikell said. "Obviously, it means nothing now."

Untrue.

It means home-field advantage.

It means the Eagles' starters are fresh, since they didn't play in last week's meaningless finale, while the Packers sweated out a struggle against the Bears' starters.

"Well, it doesn't mean much to a lot of people," Mikell grumbled.

He recognizes the logic, of course. The Eagles sputtered in a Week 15 loss to the visiting Vikings, needed a miracle comeback to beat the Giants the week before and had to come back to beat the Cowboys the week before that.

"We put ourselves in this position the last few games not playing our best," Mikell said. "And we lost to [the Packers] the first game of the year."

The logic is there. It's just that hearing the logic over and over is maddening.

"You try not to listen to it. But we hear it," linebacker Jamar Chaney said. "You've got no choice but to hear it."

They hear how the Packers' defense, best in the NFC, is all geared up to stop the Michael Vick Experience.

They hear even louder how the Eagles' defense, an object of derision all season, will be at the mercy of Aaron Rodgers, the NFC's top passer.

"Can we do this? Can we do that? It is frustrating," Mikell said. "We're just going to use all that as motivation. Study a little bit harder this week and be ready to play."

Study harder . . . and maybe add a wrinkle or two.

Ellis Hobbs, an Eagles cornerback on injured reserve and a guest panelist on the Comcast SportsNet's "Daily News Live," contended that the Eagles have plenty of pass-rushing tricks left up their schematic sleeve.

Mikell implied as much yesterday.

"It's not a situation like with the Giants, where we play them twice a year and they know exactly what's going on," Mikell said. "It's playoffs. It's the second season. We'll be ready to play. It's about what we do from here on out."

That seething you sense is real.

"Anybody can drag your name through the mud," said safety Kurt Coleman. "I love the underdog role. Love it."

"Any time you're a division champion and everybody's picking you to lose in the first round, it should be a chip on your shoulder," Chaney said.

Mikell expects to exploit that chip.

"I haven't done any talking yet. I will. At the right time. I'm saving it," Mikell said. "Saturday. In the hotel. Maybe Sunday."

You know what he'll be wearing on his head. *

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