Dear God.

Writes Don Banks of Sports Illustrated Friday:

"Typically, I don't turn in my predictions column until late August, but when I do, I believe I'll have Andy Reid's Eagles atop their tightly clumped division, poised for a bounce-back season and a return to the playoffs after the nightmare of last year's "Dream Team'' nonsense."


And typically, this is something the fans would embrace. Flaunt your Philly grit and say, "Damn the torpedoes!" and wear the consequential crosshairs proudly. Thing is, hype like this can torpedo the Eagles season. Really.

Not something you want to hear. You'd like to think trivialities like these don't matter. You'd like to think men that can manhandle their 350-pound peers, carelessly drape 450-pound barbells over their shoulders and do any other feat with any other notable increment of weight couldn't succumb to something so tiny and unseen and -- really -- unpalatable as hype. Even when "they did" last year, you'd sooner warm to (ironically) the Eagles company lines, about Juan Castillo in his first year and the lockout clipping off-season workout time and DeSean and LeSean raking measly money. Or your own, about Andy Reid being godawful with clock management and challenges and timeouts and everything that happens from sun up on Sunday morning on.

You know. Not fluff. Stuff.

Fact is, hype -- like Banks' hype --  matters. It's infectious, not only throughout media outlets (wait 'till this matriculates up to ESPN, just wait...) but also NFL locker rooms. You don't wanna believe that teams give favorites (on and alike) their best shots? Ask Rex Ryan and the Jets. That wears on you. There are ways to quantify some of that wear throughout a season, in snaps and games and injury time. There aren't for others, like the grinds of division schedules, and when everybody digs in to better dig at you. Those are multipliers. This is one of them.

Think the Eagles don't know that? Cross you fingers that 2012 doesn't provide examples...

I know what you're thinking. But this -- from the outside-in -- is different. It's one thing when the Eagles do it, preach their Super Bowl ambitions -- even talk up their abilities to win the damned thing. But when they do, as, admittedly, they have often this off-season, they do it in their trademark passive tones. Beat around the thicker bush, never barrel through it. And they do it much to the indifference of the national media. (Sentiments you can well appreciate, Phils fans. Though if this doesn't make you second-guess yourself on that unjust  lack of coverage...) And you could still argue that The Rex Effect applies.

With more talk like this, it'll be magnified. Here's to hoping Eagles talk takes another tone than hype. (Silence?)