1:00 PM ET, September 11, 2011
Edward Jones Dome, Saint Louis, MO
With a roster full of marquee talent, the Eagles begin their quest for the franchise's first Super Bowl title Sunday against the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome.
Paced by the re-emergence of quarterback Michael Vick, Philadelphia finished 10-6 to win the NFC East and make the playoffs for the third consecutive season in 2010. However, the Eagles' postseason stay was short-lived after losing 21-16 at home to eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay in the wild-card round.
Since coach Andy Reid arrived in 1999, the Eagles have made nine playoff appearances, won six division titles and played in five NFC championship games, but they've only reached one Super Bowl.
Motivated to take the next step, the Eagles signed cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, the prize of the 2011 free-agent class. He'll team with veteran corner Asante Samuel and newcomer Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was acquired in the trade with Arizona for quarterback Kevin Kolb.
Philadelphia also signed defensive end Jason Babin and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, and added depth on offense by bringing in former New York Giants receiver Steve Smith, running back Ronnie Brown and quarterback Vince Young.
With those new faces added to a roster that already included Vick, versatile receiver DeSean Jackson and running back LeSean McCoy, anything less than a Super Bowl title will be a major disappointment in Philadelphia.
"Our expectations are to win a championship and I'd be lying if I told you anything else," Vick said. "It's all about the team and what we're trying to accomplish. We want to win it all."
In 12 games in 2010, Vick set career highs for passing yards (3,018) and touchdowns (21) to earn comeback player of the year honors. He also scored nine rushing TDs to lead an offense that averaged an NFC-high 389.4 yards.
"Experience is the best teacher like I've always said and we have to go out this week and show improvement," said Vick, who has not faced St. Louis since 2004. "So, you can't dwell on the past, can't dwell on what happened last year. It's all about moving forward."
Vick won't need to do it alone.
McCoy rushed for 1,080 yards and seven TDs, and also led the team with 78 receptions in his second season. Jackson caught 47 passes for 1,056 yards with six touchdowns in 14 games and remains one of the league's top kick returners.
"We know we have a lot of talented guys," said receiver Jeremy Maclin, who set career highs with 70 receptions for 964 yards and 10 TDs in 2010. "We know if we do what we're capable of and play to our abilities, then we can achieve what we want to achieve. But we have to go out there and do it."
The Eagles, however, could receive a test right out of the gate against a St. Louis club that completed a six-win improvement to finish 7-9 last year. Despite a losing mark, the Rams only missed winning the weak NFC West because of a tiebreaker after falling 16-6 at Seattle in Week 17.
"Obviously, everyone's talking about Philly," quarterback Sam Bradford said. "They deserve it. If we could come out and get a win against a team like that I think it would give guys on the team a lot of confidence."
With Bradford running the innovative system of new offensive coordinator and former Denver head coach Josh McDaniels, the Rams believe they will again contend for a playoff spot. The former Oklahoma star set NFL rookie records for completions (354), attempts (590) and passing yards (3,512) last year, becoming one of only three rookies in NFL history to pass for 3,000 yards.
He'll again hand the ball off to veteran Steven Jackson, who is coming off his sixth straight 1,000-yard season -- the NFL's longest active streak.
"We have the potential to be a very good offense," Bradford said. "I think it could turn into a special year. It's just a matter of everyone doing their job and being great on Sunday."
"Confidence level is high," defensive end Chris Long said after the Rams recorded their first undefeated preseason since 1979.
Philadelphia has won three of the last four games against the Rams, including the most recent 38-3 at home Sept. 7, 2008. The Eagles also won 17-16 in their last trip to St. Louis on Dec. 18, 2005.
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1. Make smart throws: Michael Vick is a tremendous and dangerous football player. But he also takes a ton of risks -- many of them unnecessary -- when delivering the football. This is opening day, and adrenaline will be running high. And after an extremely aggressive offseason by Philadelphia's front office, expectations are through the roof for this franchise. Vick needs to stay composed and not let things get away from him in Week 1.
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|Avg Points Allowed||13.0||31.0|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||PHI|
|Rush Yds Allowed||PHI|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Philadelphia leads 4-3|
|Sep 7, 2008||PHI 38, STL 3|
|Dec 18, 2005||PHI 17, @STL 16|
|Dec 27, 2004||PHI 7, @STL 20|
|Dec 1, 2002||PHI 10, STL 3|
|Jan 27, 2002||PHI 24, @STL 29|
|Sep 9, 2001||PHI 17, STL 20|