Philadelphia Eagles' Nick Foles celebrates after an NFL divisional playoff...

Philadelphia Eagles' Nick Foles celebrates after an NFL divisional playoff win against the Falcons on Jan. 13, 2018. Credit: AP / Michael Perez

It may seem like a cute little thing. The Eagles players — and by extension many in the city of Philadelphia — have been trotting around disguised as German Shepherds to poke fun at their role as underdogs.

No one believes in them. No one gives them credit. No one thinks they can win it all.

But the reality is much more intense for the Eagles players, particularly those who patrol the defensive side of the field. There is no canine-shaped latex that can mask their emotions over how they are being perceived this postseason.

“The disrespect just continues,” Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said of being 3-point underdogs to the Vikings in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game at Lincoln Financial Field.

That despite being the top seed in the NFC. That despite dethroning the defending conference champion Falcons last week, when they also were underdogs.

“To have this championship run through the Linc, what more respect do you want?” Cox added. “At the end of the day, respect isn’t given. We have to go out and take it just like we’ve done all year. We’re going to go out and dominate.”

That’s not what the narrative is for this team. They have one of the top defenses in the NFL, and yet they are going against the only team that allowed fewer yards than they did this season.

They were backed up against their own end zone in the final minute in the divisional round and had to stop four plays aimed at the go-ahead touchdown to beat the Falcons, and yet it’s the Vikings’ miracle finish that everyone is chattering about.

The Eagles aren’t only underdogs, they’re afterthoughts. And there’s only one way for them to change that.

“I think this is a good opportunity for us to prove who the best defensive line and front is,” defensive end Brandon Graham said. “We’re playing against the best, you know, and now we’ve got to show up. And if we say we’re the best, we’ve got to go out there and prove it.”

It’s not a foreign feeling for the Eagles. They were feeling slighted even before MVP candidate Carson Wentz went down with a knee injury in early December.

“From the beginning, we didn’t feel like anybody gave us a chance,” safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “I think obviously that mentality is coming in handy for us. It’s been handy for us all year. Losing the amount of guys that we’ve lost and facing adversity a lot, to have that mentality that we are sufficient, that the guys we have can get it done no matter what’s in front of us, has kind of been the story line of this team. I think everybody has embraced that mentality.”

Coach Doug Pederson wants the Eagles to focus more on the Vikings than on how they’re perceived.

“We’ve just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” he said. “The guys are going to prepare themselves the way they have all season long. It’s a great honor, a great opportunity, and we just attack each day the same. It just comes down to the leadership of the football team, keeping the guys in the moment and just attacking each week as it comes.”

This week is a chance to advance to Super Bowl LII. But also a chance to prove that they belong there.

“We know what’s on the line in this game,” Cox said. “But at the same time, we have to worry about the Vikings. They’re worried about us, too. They have to come against us. We don’t want to look too far ahead. We just want to stay focused on the things we’ve done all year.”

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