Contenders or Pretenders: A closer look at the Eagles season so far and where expectations lie

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The Philadelphia Eagles came into the season with cautious optimism. The team finished 7-9 last year, and play in one of the toughest divisions in football. The NFC East had both the Giants and Cowboys make the playoffs with the Redskins barely missing out as well. Overall the division had a combined 39 wins which were the most combined wins in any division. GM Howie Roseman was able to add big-time talent in the off-season with the acquisitions of Alshon Jeffrey and Timmy Jernigan, which helped round out the roster. After their 10-2 start, the Eagles are no longer looking to just clinch the NFC East, but take home field advantage in the playoffs.

Which is why it has been quite interesting to still see so many people doubt the Eagles and their season. An argument that constantly comes up is that the Eagles have only beaten one team with a winning record. However, something that never gets brought up is that the Eagles have to play 11 of their 16 games against teams who finished with a winning record last year. Also, context is everything, so let’s quickly break down how the Eagles have performed against their competition this year.

Washington Redskins (5-7)

Score: Eagles: 30, Redskins: 17

This game was closer than the score indicated. Fletcher Cox was able to score a defensive TD to put the game out of reach late in the 4th quarter. The Eagles had an impressive road win against the Redskins while putting up 356 yards of offense and only surrendering 264 against. This was a quality win against a team that would be 5-5 and if they didn’t have to play the Eagles.

Kansas City Chiefs (6-6)

Score: Eagles: 20, Chiefs: 27

Perhaps this loss is where people could argue that it wasn’t even against a good team. Again, context is everything. The Chiefs just came off a road win where they beat the defending super-bowl champions by a score of 42-27. I wonder if Kansas City fans were excited when their team played their first home game of the season after that victory? The extra three days to rest and prepare for the Eagles probably didn’t help them either. Philadelphia was unable to overcome an unlucky interception that deflected off a helmet and into the hands of Chris Jones. The Eagles made it interesting with a late touchdown but were unable to complete the comeback with a their failed hail mary throw.

New York Giants (2-10)

Score: Eagles: 27, Giants: 24

Context is everything. The Giants have lost 10 games this season and 6 of those losses have come with Odell Beckham Jr. in the lineup. The losses with ODB have come by a combined score of 24 points for an average deficit of 6 points a game. In their other six losses without ODB, they’ve lost by a combined 94 points for an average loss of 15.6 points a game. Plain and simple he matters a lot to the Giants and this was still a good win against a hard team when healthy.

Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)

Score: Eagles: 26, Chargers, 24

Each week this win is looking better and better. The Chargers started off the season at 0-4. After their loss to the Eagles, they were able to bounce back and are now tied for the division lead in the AFC West. If the Chargers had any resemblance of a kicker this year that record could easily be 8-4. This was another quality road-win against an unlucky team that has been losing games on average by only 4 points a contest.

Arizona Cardinals (5-6)

Score: Eagles: 34, Cardinals: 7

The Cardinals are a surprising 5-7 this year and that’s even without their superstar running back David Johnson in the lineup. The Eagles dismantled this team from start to finish. The Cardinals are an average team this year and the Eagles treated them as such. Wentz threw for 304 yards and 4 TD against Patrick Peterson and company. Super-Bowl Contending teams are supposed to beat mediocre teams, and the Eagles not only beat Arizona, they crushed them.

Carolina Panthers (8-4)

Score: Eagles: 28, Panthers: 23

This was the first win the Eagles actually get credit for. The Eagles won again on the road against a team who was only one year removed from a Super-Bowl appearance. Perhaps the most impressive statistic of this victory was that the Eagles held Carolina running-backs to 1 yard on 13 carries.

Washington Redskins (5-7)

Score: Eagles: 34, Redskins: 24

The Eagles were able to take care of business at home and sweep the season series against the Redskins. It’s a shame the Redskins didn’t have to play the Eagles twice. Maybe if they got to play someone else the Birds would actually get credit for beating a decent team.

San Fransisco 49ers (2-10)

Score: Eagles: 33, 49ers: 10

Philly got to play a really bad and team and they beat them really badly. This one was never in doubt and the Eagles proved that when they get to play a bad team, they destroy them. It’s promising to see that the Eagles could crush this team and didn’t have to squeak out a last-second win against a bad team like the Steelers did against the Browns, Colts and Bengals.

Denver Broncos (3-9)

Score: Eagles: 51, Broncos, 23

The Birds put up 419 yards and 51 points against the leagues best defense at the time. The Eagles won by 28 and if the refs didn’t feel bad for the Broncos it would’ve been more. Everyone in the entire stadium and all the viewers at home noticed that Von Miller was offside on his strip sack for a TD except the referees. I still don’t understand how the Eagles get discredited for this win.

Dallas Cowboys (6-6)

Score: Eagles: 37, Cowboys, 9

The Cowboys are one win away from this victory counting as a quality win right? Well, the Cowboys didn’t have Elliott, Smith, and Lee for the game, while the Eagles were without starters Peters and Hicks. Elliot is a legitimate superstar and a difference maker for Dallas. Is he good enough to erase a 28 point deficit? I’m not so sure about that one. This was a dominating victory against another average team. Notice a trend yet?

Chicago Bears (3-9)

Score: Eagles: 31, Bears: 3

The Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers learned the hard way that you can’t underestimate the Bears this season. The Eagles once again took care of business and if the team wasn’t a bunch of fumbling machines the score could’ve been a lot worse.

Seattle Seahawks (8-4)

Score: Seahawks: 24, Eagles: 10

The Seattle Seahawks are almost unbeatable at home. They’ve been the pinnacle of success in the NFC conference for years and are exactly what the Eagles are striving to become. The Eagles squandered a chance at beating the Seahawks in Seattle and their costly errors were that downfall. Wentz fumbled for a touchback at the one-yard-line and missed Agholor early in the game in what would’ve extended the drive and put them in Seattle territory. The refs missed a forward pass by Wilson that put the game away and coach Pederson wouldn’t challenge the play. To summarize the game, the Eagles didn’t execute and you need to execute against great teams if you want to win.

Verdict:

Contenders

Philadelphia has beaten sneaky good teams this year while dismantling bad and average teams. They have one loss to the premier team at home in Seattle and one loss against the Chiefs who were riding a high after their win in Foxborough. The Eagles currently have the leagues 3rd best offense and 3rd best defense. That did not happen by luck. In their two losses, Philadelphia has been in the receiving end of unlucky plays that cost them the game. Nothing to take away from their opponents, but just one or two plays in both losses were what undid the Eagles. Philadelphia isn’t getting outplayed in any game and is dominating on both sides of the football. The Eagles are 100% for real.

 

Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

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