After earning their fifth win of 2013 over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles can safely say they’ve improved upon last season’s 4-12 record with six games remaining. Now it’s time to test the limits of their fast turnaround. Can they sneak into the playoffs in Chip Kelly’s first season on the sidelines?
They may not be required to sneak as much as they’ll be able to walk right through the front door if the Cowboys continue slipping in the standings. The Eagles may be a little banged up heading into a rivalry game versus Washington in Week 11, but few if any teams have been playing better football over the course of the past two weeks.
Philadelphia’s defense hasn’t surrendered more than 21 points in six games, while its offense appears to have caught up again. After going back-to-back weeks without reaching the end zone, Nick Foles has exploded for 10 touchdown passes in his last two outings.
It seems the Eagles will go as far as Foles can take them this year. The second-year passer is on an amazing roll right now and has yet to toss an interception. He’s in uncharted territory, though, as the franchise’s postseason hopes are about to land squarely on his shoulders for this upcoming stretch run.
Luckily, it appears the rest of the NFC East is going to give Foles plenty of leeway. As we take a look at the division standings, the Birds are in remarkably good shape for a team that just climbed back to the .500 mark this week.
NFC East Standings
|Team||Record||Last Week||This Week|
|Dallas Cowboys||5-5||49-17 L @ NO||Bye|
|Philadelphia Eagles||5-5||27-13 W @ GB||vs. WAS|
|New York Giants||3-6||24-20 W vs. OAK||vs. GB|
|Washington Redskins||3-6||34-27 L @ MIN||@ PHI|
Dallas Cowboys (5-5)
It does not get brought up often enough that the Cowboys are a fundamentally flawed football team. They’re fourth in total offense but 19th in scoring. Their defense is ranked dead last. It’s not a given they finish with a winning record this year, let alone take the NFC East.
Now middle linebacker Sean Lee is out three to four weeks according to Fox Sports Southwest’s Matt Mosley. Do they even have that kind of time?
Philadelphia Eagles (5-5)
No, Philadelphia is not by any means “tied” with Dallas for first place. Not only have the Eagles lost a head-to-head, but the Cowboys are a perfect 3-0 within the division—the Birds are only 2-2. In order for the Eagles to be crowned NFC East champions, they likely need to finish with a better record overall than Dallas.
New York Giants (3-6)
According to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin ended his postgame address to his team with: “We’ve won three in a row. We keep the dream alive.” The Giants had just defeated the Oakland Raiders 24-20.
Good luck with that dream. They did manage to equal Washington in the standings, which is more than anybody would’ve thought a few weeks ago.
Washington Redskins (3-6)
Washington had the same 3-6 record last season before reeling off a seven-game winning streak that propelled the club to a division championship. Not saying it can’t do it, but it would have to sweep a schedule that includes Philly (5-5), San Francisco (6-3) and Kansas City (9-0) among others.
This Week’s Opponent: Washington Redskins
The Eagles surprised Washington in Week 1, jumping out to a 26-point lead before coasting to an eventual 33-27 victory. Skins QB Robert Griffin III was thrust into his first live action since tearing his ACL last January, and the rust was apparent.
RG3 is improving. He still doesn't look anything like the sure thing he did as a rookie, but the Birds won’t be going after the same shell of a player from the beginning of the season. Griffin has posted a passer rating of 86.8 or better in three of his last four games, and he appears to be far more comfortable running with the football as well.
|CB Bradley Fletcher||Pectoral||Inactive Week 10|
|LB Mychal Kendricks||Knee||Left Game Week 10|
|LB Jake Knott||Hamstring||Inactive Week 10|
|LT Jason Peters||Quad||Left Game Week 10|
|QB Michael Vick||Hamstring||Inactive Week 10|
|S Earl Wolff||Knee||Left Game Week 10|
Green Bay turned out to be a costly battle for the Eagles. Jason Peters, Mychal Kendricks and Earl Wolff all departed with injuries, the extents of which were still unknown as of Monday according to Chip Kelly at his day-after press conference broadcast on PhiladelphiaEagles.com.
The only remotely firm update we have on any of the three is Wolff. General manager Howie Roseman described the rookie safety’s knee injury as the “multiple-week” variety on Sportsradio 94WIP. Patrick Chung will take over for Wolff, who had overtaken Chung on the depth chart while the veteran was out with a health issue of his own.
The injuries of Peters and Kendricks are believed to be short-term.
No updates were available on Michael Vick or Bradley Fletcher either, both of whom were inactive for Green Bay. Fletcher was listed as questionable last week, so he should be considered week-to-week and possibly nearing a return.
What Must Improve (Very Little Edition)
Um… I give up.
Seriously, what can improve for this Eagles team this week? The quarterback can’t throw an interception right now, the top running back and wide receiver are both on the verge of eclipsing 1,000-yard milestones, and the defense hasn’t allowed an opponent to score more than 21 points in six games. Sounds awesome to me.
We could surely nitpick and lecture for instance that Nick Foles needs to put more distance on his deep ball. We could suggest the roster is badly in need of upgrade, say at place-kicker, but that’s what the offseason is for.
The Eagles are 2-0 in their last two games, though, which they’ve won by a combined score of 76-33. It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.
Okay, there is ONE thing the Birds must improve…
End the Home Losing Streak
Philadelphia’s losing streak at Lincoln Financial Field is 10 games old and into its 14th month, and it’s clearly starting to get to people involved with the team. DeSean Jackson could be heard pleading that Philly fans hold their boos on Sunday within minutes of the Birds’ win over the Packers ending via CSNPhilly.com.
"But there's gotta be support. We can't be coming into the game, first quarter, getting boos and all that type of stuff. [The fans] just gotta work with us throughout the game."
We’ll see if the notoriously hostile crowd obliges, but it’s hard to blame it. These people have been shelling out hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars, many of them every week for over a year, without seeing a win at home. You can’t blame them for being a little irritated about it.
Chip Kelly took the more democratic approach with his answer about the losing streak during his day-after press conference. The fact that he had to answer at all means it’s been far too long already.
We love playing at home. Our fans are outstanding. They deserve it. That's what our goal is right now. We have a one‑game season, and it's against the Washington Redskins, it's at home, and we're excited to get back into the Linc and play in front of our fans.