Coming off an emphatic rout of the Giants in last week’s Divisional Round, the top-seeded Eagles face their biggest test yet, hosting the 49ers, winners of 12 straight, in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.
While many have wondered how rookie quarterback Brock Purdy will stand up to Philadelphia’s famously hostile home environment at Lincoln Financial Field, the Niners, as far as visiting crowds go, tend to travel well, making their presence felt by tampering with the famous Rocky statue outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
When the Eagles last reached the conference championship in 2018, Minnesota fans pulled a similar stunt, antagonizing locals by outfitting the Italian Stallion in purple Vikings gear. The Eagles would have the last laugh, however, handing the Vikings their richly-deserved comeuppance with a resounding 38-7 triumph, karmic retribution for defacing a cherished landmark of historical significance.
The Rocky statue is not to be trifled with, with those foolish enough to tempt the Philadelphia sports gods doing so at their own peril. There are certainly parallels between Purdy’s underdog character arc (he was selected with the 262nd and final pick of this year’s NFL Draft) and Rocky’s unlikely ascent to heavyweight champion of the world, a rags-to-riches story of perseverance that would come to symbolize an entire region.
Fans headed to the stadium this weekend should be in for a dog fight, with Caesars Sportsbook installing the Eagles as narrow 2.5-point home favorites. The victor will advance to next month’s Super Bowl LVII in Arizona, where they’ll be awaited by whoever wins Sunday’s showdown between Kansas City and Cincinnati in a rematch of last year’s AFC title game.
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