After a frustrating week, Eagles fans were given the best gift possible on Thanksgiving. The Dallas Cowboys hosted the Buffalo Bills and were completely outplayed by McDermott’s team in a loss that carries a lot of weight.
For the Eagles, it gives them breathing room. After dropping games to Seattle and New England in aggravating fashion amidst an offensive injury crisis, ‘winning out’ suddenly became a ‘must’ if there was any chance of making the playoffs for a third consecutive year. But with the Cowboys letting a huge opportunity to take a substantial lead in the race for NFC East supremacy slip away, the pendulum has swung the other way.
Eagles remaining games:
Week 13 – at Miami Dolphins (2-9)
Week 14 – vs. New York Giants (2-9)
Week 15 – at Washington (2-9)
Week 16 – vs. Dallas Cowboys (6-6)
Week 17 – at New York Giants (2-9)
Cowboys remaining games:
Week 14 – at Chicago Bears (6-6)
Week 15 – vs. Los Angeles Rams (6-5)
Week 16 – at Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)
Week 17 – vs. Washington (2-9)
I know which schedule I’d rather have.
Of course, the week 16 showdown is likely where the divisional winner will be decided, but the pressure is all on Dallas to avoid dropping yet another loss to a team with a winning record.
In the event of a tie-breaker, things suddenly look much….’greener’.
The Eagles will kickstart their pursuit of the Cowboys with a game against the Dolphins this Sunday in what is a very winnable fixture. There is a chance they will be without Zach Ertz and several other receiving options, but if there is ever a stretch of games to deal with cluster injuries, it’s one that consists of playing 2-9 teams. But while the offense is struggling, the defense is finding a new identity.
The Eagles defense has caught a second wind over the last month, allowing just 61 points (15 per game) in the last four weeks. The Seahawks and Patriots both had to empty the playbook and turn to a trick play in order to find a way to catch this surprisingly disciplined unit off-guard. Schwartz uncharacteristically blitzed MVP candidate Russell Wilson on 14 of 31 pass plays on Sunday. Four of the Eagles’ six sacks came on those plays. If that’s a sign of things to come, the Fitzmagic show might be nothing more than a disappearing handkerchief.
Now in the perfect spot, the Eagles can embrace the underdog mentality one more time. Like it or not, they’ve faced more noise than they have in any season outside of 2015, have lost substantial players to injury, left a lot of meat on the bone in key games, and made life incredibly difficult for themselves.
Anonymous sources, an entire free agency class being cut, guaranteed wins, the Eagles haven’t exactly been their own best friend this year. But they have a shot to win the NFC East and their defense is thriving. A shot to right all those wrongs.
Carson Wentz and a depleted offense that has been left licking its wounds in recent weeks have now been given a second chance. A chance to turn a fresh page and finally gain some confidence in winnable games before the real battle starts.
It’s a level playing field at the top of the NFC East and so long as the Birds’ can take care of business, it could be lopsided in favor of Philadelphia very soon, regardless of all the mess left in their wake this year….and that’s a reason to be excited.
Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports