The Philadelphia Eagles have the best record in football. Their stranglehold on the NFC East is lethal thanks to a 3-0 mark in the division following Sunday’s 28-23 victory over Dallas. And they own a 6-0 record in the conference which has home-field advantage throughout the playoffs looking more like a reality than wishful thinking.
Beat San Francisco in Week 13 and it’s on. Okay, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
The Eagles will enjoy a much-needed bye before cramming for the Kansas City Chiefs and the brutal part of their schedule. This is a marathon, not a sprint. But there is a lot to like about the reigning NFC champions with eight games to go.
10 Things I Think I Know About the Eagles
1. They Know How to Win: It seems like a dumb thing to say out loud, but there is no other way to say it. The Eagles find new ways to win every week. Whether it’s riding the run game to the tune of 460 yards in back-to-back games (see: Minnesota, Tampa Bay) or watching Jalen Hurts gut it out on a hobbled knee (see: Washington, Dallas), Nick Sirianni’s group just gets it done. They win ugly. They win gritty. They win out of spite.
2. Clear Path to Home-Field Advantage: Look around the NFC right now and it’s a hellscape of wannabe contenders. The Detroit Lions keep making noise and could wind up being a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs. However, is anyone really worried about a dome team coming into the Linc and winning a playoff game in January? I’m not. The 49ers look very beatable. Ditto for the Seahawks. Both of those teams are on the regular-season schedule so we’ll find out. And the Cowboys will get a shot at redemption in Week 14.
3. Jalen Hurts is NFL MVP: Regression is the word I keep hearing in regard to the Eagles quarterback, yet Hurts is on pace to throw for 4,433 yards and 28 touchdowns. That would be a new franchise record, besting Carson Wentz’s 2019 season (4,039 yards, 27 TDs) and Donovan McNabb’s 2008 season (3,916, 23 TDs). Sure, the turnovers need to stop and the ball needs to come out quicker. No one is debating that. Still, Hurts has shown he is a triple threat with his arm, legs, and mind through nine games while battling a lingering knee injury that sources say is a bit more serious than anyone is letting on. He’ll beat out Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson for NFL MVP when all is said and done.
4. Eagles Will Draft a Tight End: I went on record a long time ago saying that Dallas Goedert wasn’t the long-term answer at tight end. He’s always hurt including seven missed games over the past two seasons. His latest injury — a fractured forearm suffered on a dirty play from Marquese Bell — will reportedly sideline him for at least four weeks. Look, Goedert is a tough dude who adds extra value as a blocker but his time is running out. His alarming injury history, combined with too many concentration drops, has the Eagles looking for a new tight end in next year’s draft.
5. A.J. Brown is the Best WR in Franchise History: There, I said it. It’s out in the open. Brown’s ability to nonchalantly fight off double teams, sometimes triple teams, while outmuscling defenders in space is freakish. The closest comparison is Terrell Owens. While it’s a tad early to declare Brown better than the Hall of Famer, it’s not premature to jump him on the franchise leaderboard. Remember, Owens only wore an Eagles uniform for 21 games: 124 receptions for 1,963 and 20 TDs. How’s Brown stack up? Take a look: 155 receptions for 2,501 yards and 17 TDs in 26 games.
6. Nickel Cornerback Wanted: The biggest problem area for the Eagles has been at nickel cornerback. They haven’t been able to replace Avonte Maddox and it nearly cost them against Dallas who started targeting slot man CeeDee Lamb late in the second half. Kevin Byard, Sydney Brown, and Eli Ricks couldn’t contain him. In fact, Darius Slay volunteered to slide over and cover Lamb with the game on the line. The Eagles are supposed to get Bradley Roby back after the bye which is a good thing. He could stop the bleeding there. Then again, the position will remain a void heading into the offseason especially when factoring in Maddox’s injury history.
7. If Jalen Hurts Goes Down, Season Over: When QB1 limped off the field, there was a noticeable hush in the stands at Lincoln Financial Field. Everyone sitting in my section knew the team was doomed if Marcus Mariota had to see meaningful snaps. I believe if the unthinkable were to happen, you have to turn the offense over to Tanner McKee. If not, you have to keep Mariota on a very short leash.
8. Rashaad Penny Energy: The one-time Seahawks standout rushed two times for eight yards last week. He received a standing ovation from the crowd when he entered the game, too. It’s been curious to watch Penny fail to log any significant burn in 2023 despite a productive training camp and preseason. I understand he’s not the best blocker or a difference-maker in the passing game, but he can run in between the tackles. He has burst in his bag. Use him. (D’Andre Swift’s two fumbles versus Dallas may lead to an extended look).
9. Lay Off Brian Johnson: The new offensive coordinator was taking all the heat to start the year mostly due to vanilla play-calling. And a head-scratching inefficiency in the red zone. Time to throw Johnson kudos. He was 3-for-3 inside the 20-yard line on Sunday, including a well-orchestrated screen to A.J. Brown for a touchdown. The 3rd-and-3 call wasn’t a good one in hindsight, but it’s hard to hate the aggressiveness.
10. Eagles vs. Chiefs, Super Bowl Rematch: The Bengals might be the hottest team in football right now. Definitely in the AFC. They are going to have something to say about a potential Eagles-Chiefs rematch in Super Bowl LVIII. However, these two teams just appear to be on a collision course. Let’s just check the field conditions before kickoff.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon