The Eagles have won the NFC East. It isn’t Technically official yet, but with a 4 game lead over the Cowboys, and only 6 games to play, it would take an all-time collapse for the Eagles to lose. Even if the Cowboys of 5-1, and the Eagles go 1-5, they would still only be tied. Now, Eagles can turn their attention to getting the number one seed. The competition there is tight. There are 6 very good teams in the NF and none of them have more than three losses. Let’s take a look at the Eagles, in this weeks plus/minus segment.
+Winning big every week
In their last 4 games, the Eagles have outscored their opponent 155-66. All season, they have 6 wins by at least 10 points, and 4 wins by at least 20 points. They beat the Cowboys by 28 points, the Broncos by 28 points, the 49ers by 23 points, and the Cardinals by 27 points. When they play teams that they should beat, they beat them big. Early on in the season, they were playing teams close, but now, as they have hit their stride.
+Defense getting better every week
As they get healthier and more experienced, this defense is becoming a force. The Cowboys didn’t score a TD against this defense and didn’t even gain 250 total yards. They forced four turnovers, and the defense scored a TD on one of those touchdowns. A lot of people look at the bare stats and say that the Eagles have a bad pass defense. It is true they do give up a lot of yards. But those yards are volume. Eagles came into this week top 10 in yards allowed per attempt. They are not getting torn up through the air. Teams are just throwing at them a lot, because the Eagles get out to a big lead, forcing the opponent to throw it a lot. Eagles are being thrown against at a historic pace. They are holding teams to short passes, and barely any rushing yards, But stack enough short passes on top of each other, they will add up to a lot of yards.
+Schedule isn’t too difficult
The Eagles have to play only two teams who currently have a winning record the rest of the way. After they play the Bears this week, they go on a two-game west coast road trip where they play the Seahawks and Rams. That will be a tough trip, there is no doubt about that. But after that trip, they play the Raiders, Giants, and Cowboys. Take out the west coast road trip, and the Eagle remaining opponents have a record of 14-26. Even if you count the road trip, the combined record of their remaining opponents is only 28-32.
Cowboy fans love to use the injury excuse. But the Eagles have no Jason Peters, no Darren Sproles, no Jordan Hicks, they were without Ronald Darby until this week. Fletcher Cox missed two games, and Lane Johnson missed a game and a half. Eagles have had as many injuries as anyone. Yet, they are 9-1. Why have they kept winning despite injuries while the Cowboys have fallen apart? Easy answer, depth. The Eagles are deep everywhere except for LB. They went through this last year, and struggled through injuries last year, and are better because of it. Their backups got experience. If Big V didn’t get to play 10 games last year, he wouldn’t look as good as he has so far this year.
+Running game is elite
The Eagles don’t have that one guy who is rushing for 100 yards every week. They have three guys who will rush for 50 yards each every week though. The Eagles rushing attack is a three-headed monster. Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, and Corey Clement. Take each of their stats on their own, you may think they are good, not great. But combined, they make for one of the best rushing games in the league. Clement is a touchdown scoring machine. He has 4 touchdowns on only 54 rushing attempts and two receiving touchdowns on top of that. Blount is the bully to get short yardage. Ajayi is the every down back. Three RBs playing well, and none have to carry a large workload, meaning all of them will be fresh come January.
+Doug Pederson is a hell of a coach
Dougie P has gotten a ton of hate early on. But this season, he has arguably been the coach of the year. Every year we see him draw up a great gameplan, pull out plays designed to beat the opposing defense and make adjustments when he has to. When Andy Reid was here, he was a great coach, but his weakness was always in-game adjustments. Reid couldn’t do it. If Reid was coaching that game last night, with the Eagles going into halftime down 7-9, he would have come out in the second half throwing it and completely abandon the run. Doug didn’t do that. He smartly ran the ball, which set up some play action, and got Carson Wentz out of his first-quarter slump. Doug deserves as much credit as anyone.
Sure, the loss came at the expense of a Vikings, but at least one of the three teams that were on the Eagles heels got a loss. It is hard to tell what would be better for the Eagles, a Rams win, or a Vikings win. Both teams were 7-2 coming in. Eagles do get to play the Rams so you could argue it would have been better if the Rams won because the Eagles can beat them and then both teams would be at 3 losses, but you can also argue that this means the Eagles have less pressure on them to beat the Rams now. Overall, at least there is one less two-loss team in the NFC.
– Were not able to pull away much this week
It looked like the Saints were going to lose as well, until Washington chocked away a double-digit lead and let the Saints win in OT. The Saints are the team I am most concerned about. And between the Rams, Vikings, and Saints, the Saints are the last team I would want to play on the road.
– Got out to a slow start out of a break again
The Eagles have played two games coming off an extended rest. They played Washington 10 days after playing the Panthers on Thursday night, and now the Cowboys coming off a bye week. They were slow out of the gate in both games. They eventually won both games by double digits, but this may eventually hurt them. It is looking likely the Eagles will have a first-week bye in the playoffs. They cannot start off as slow as they did in these two games when they play a playoff caliber team.