Throughout his 11-year tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles, Donovan McNabb went through his share of criticism despite six Pro Bowl appearances and leading his team to a Super Bowl and five conference championship appearances. It came with the territory of playing in a vocal East Coast market.
In the simulation the Eagles appeared in Super Bowls following the 2000 and 2001 seasons, but came up short in the big game both times – so McNabb underwent the same criticism in this alternate reality as in real life.
But in the 2008 simulation, the stars aligned for McNabb and the Eagles despite playing in the NFC East Group of Death.
The story of the season regarded disparity of records between divisions. The AFC South and NFC South dominated the NFC North while the AFC East and NFC East destroyed the NFC West.
All four AFC East teams won at least 10 games, but only two made the playoffs, with Brett Favre’s Jets and Matt Cassel’s Patriots missing out. Three teams in the AFC South finished 8-8, but far behind the 15-1 Tennessee Titans. The Chargers easily won the AFC West as the rest of the division had down years. The Chicago Bears and New York Giants likewise both missed the postseason despite 10-6 campaigns.
Then there was the amusing NFC West, won by the 6-10 Seattle Seahawks via tie-breaker over the Cardinals and 49ers. The Seahawks went 4-2 in the division, their only other wins came at Buffalo and at Green Bay.
Adrian Peterson, Larry Johnson and Tennessee rookie Chris Johnson were among those who produced monster numbers on the ground. LaDainian Tomlinson also found pay dirt seven times in a two-game span.
And yes, the Detroit Lions successfully reprised their 0-16 real-life record. The Lions best chance came in the season finale at Green Bay, only for Dan Orlovsky to throw a pick six in the waning minutes. The Packers finished 4-12 in Aaron Rodgers first season behind center, only winning two games outside their wins against Detroit.
The Titans took advantage of their number one seed, dispatching San Diego and Miami en route to the franchises first ever conference championship, leaving Houston and Tampa Bay as the lone teams not to appear in the Super Bowl. The Buccaneers appeared in three faux-NFC Championships in the simulation during the 2000s and lost a back and forth 36-33 decision to New Orleans in the 2008 Wild Card round.
As for the Texans, they have a chance if they get a decent QB and if they scout and draft a certain defensive end with a high motor at the University of Wisconsin.
After claiming the NFC North, the Minnesota Vikings appeared in danger of winning a seventh faux-Super Bowl before being blown out 37-7 in the NFC Championship game. The Eagles then proceeded to rout the Titans 29-3 in the Super Bowl, the franchises third championship in five appearances.
In real life the Eagles also finished strong, advancing to the conference championship before falling to the Arizona Cardinals. Per Wikipedia, Football Outsiders also ranked the Eagles as the NFL’s best team on a ‘play-by-play’ basis.