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Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Hot Button debate: Eagles or Packers?

By Dan Graziano

This week's Hot Button debate topic is which team is the favorite to win the NFC. Ashley Fox picks the Eagles, John Clayton the Packers. Here's a bit of Ashley's reasoning:
But for the first time since Terrell Owens was in town (and happy), Philadelphia should be the team to beat in the NFC. The Eagles have the most dynamic player in the game, Michael Vick, who is a threat to score with his left arm or his legs every time he touches the ball. He is their star, a self-assured leader who has worked to become more than just a scrambling quarterback. While he still likes to run and is a nightmare to defend in the red zone, Vick also is something else: accurate.

and ...
The Eagles are built to score early and often. The defense has abandoned its bend-but-don't-break philosophy and now should be more aggressive. Vick is primed for another big year, with playmakers all over the field. A dream team? No. But they are the team to beat in the NFC.

John's argument rests on the idea of a still-young Super Bowl champion that has reason to expect better health luck than it had last year. A popular opinion, it would seem, and one that has plenty of merit. If I had to lean toward one or the other, I'd go with Ashley's, because repeating is harder work than it ever looks from August, because the Eagles were 10-6 last year and got better in so many places (especially on defense) with their offseason moves, because of the tremendous number of star-caliber players they have on either side of the ball and because of the level of motivation the coaching staff has to come up with a Super Bowl title to cement its legacy. Not that the Packers don't have motivation, but coming off a title might make theirs a little less desperate than what the Eagles are working with.

However, if I didn't have to pick one of the two sides in this debate (and you don't, in the poll that goes along with it), I wouldn't.

Yes, you know I've been withholding predictions, and they will finally come out Thursday, so I'm not going to say too much here. But I will offer this little bit of a tease: While I believe each of these teams will win its division, I didn't pick either of them to reach the Super Bowl.