After two consecutive wins, the Philadelphia Eagles suddenly look like serious contenders in the depleted NFC East. First-year coach Chip Kelly has his Birds tied with the Dallas Cowboys atop the division, and this Sunday is an opportunity for Philadelphia to seize sole possession of first place.
The Eagles host the 3-6 Washington Redskins, a team that was in the same spot last year before reeling off seven consecutive victories to capture a home playoff game. Robert Griffin III is healthy and playing much better, and it won’t likely be as easy as it was for Philadelphia in the nationally-televised Week 1 win.
Still, it would be disappointing if the Eagles don’t come away with a victory in this one. They’ve managed tt stay remarkably healthy all season, and they’re entering the game on a hot streak.
Losing this contest would be a crushing blow to an Eagles team who will be the favorites to win the division should they emerge victorious on Sunday. Any loss is tough, but the following five reasons are why this one would be particularly devastating.
The Eagles Have to Win a Home Game
The Philadelphia Eagles’ inability to win games at their home Lincoln Financial Field is downright perplexing. It’s embarrassing and unfair to a fanbase who bleeds green for its team every week. And no one really knows why the Eagles can’t win at home.
Losing games down the stretch with Andy Reid a year ago was the result of a team who quit on its coach. But the fact that Chip Kelly is 0-4 at home is inexplicable. He’s lost by three to the San Diego Chargers, eight to the New York Giants, 10 to the Kansas City Chiefs and 15 to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Eagles haven’t won a game in front of their home crowd since a narrow two-point win over the Giants in Week 4 of 2012. That one came only when kicker Lawrence Tynes missed a pair of 54-yard field goals in the closing seconds. The only other win was an impressive one-point victory over the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in Week 2.
That means the Eagles haven’t won a home game by more than two points since Week 17 of 2011, ironically against the Washington Redskins. The futility of the Birds in front of their home crowd has to stop, and a divisional contest in November is as good of a time as any.
The Dallas Cowboys Are On a Bye Week
The Philadelphia Eagles haven’t been able to move past the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional race all season. After two straight wins for the Birds and a thrilling New Orleans Saints triumph over the Cowboys last week, the two teams are knotted at five wins apiece.
Dallas has a bye week in Week 11, while the Eagles host their division foe in the Washington Redskins. Winning this game would put Philly at 6-5 and half of a game up over the Cowboys in the NFC East race.
Both Philadelphia and Dallas have fairly easy schedules for the rest of the season. Dallas, in particular, does not play a team with a winning record for the rest of the season, save for two clubs (Chicago and Green Bay), which are each on their backup quarterback right now.
That’s why the Eagles absolutely need to take advantage of a contest against not only an NFC opponent, but one in the division.
Earning the No. 3 Seed in the NFC is Much Better Than the No. 4
It’s premature to assume a win over the Washington Redskins gives the Philadelphia Eagles the NFC East. But it does put the Eagles in a good position to hold off the Dallas Cowboys, Redskins and even the surging New York Giants for the division title.
The NFC East can likely be won with nine wins—maybe even eight—but that could mean for an early playoff exit. Winning the NFC East with eight or nine victories gives Philly the difficult task of (likely) hosting the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Wild Card Playoffs.
If the Eagles can get the third seed, which likely means edging out the NFC North winner in the conference standings, it’s a much easier matchup. That would likely mean hosting the Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers or Chicago Bears in the first round. All of those should be easier than a 'Niners team that went to the Super Bowl a year ago.
The Washington Redskins Came Back From 3-6 Last Year
Last year, the Washington Redskins were left for dead at 3-6. They proceeded to capture seven straight wins and an NFC East crown, riding the outstanding play of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.
This year, they’re also 3-6 after last week’s loss to the underwhelming Minnesota Vikings. It’s difficult to envision the Redskins repeating what they did last year. Then again, the weaker NFC East this year means Washington probably won’t have to win double-digit games to make the playoffs.
As mentioned, eight or nine wins could capture the division. The Philadelphia Eagles can’t afford to slip up at all. Sweeping the Redskins means Washington would have to finish with at least one more win than the Eagles to win the East; that means if the Eagles go just 2-3 the rest of the way to finish at 8-8, Washington would have to go 6-0.
The Eagles Are Peaking
Everything seems to be coming together for the Philadelphia Eagles.
They’ve captured two straight victories. The offense is scoring points. Franchise quarterback or not, Nick Foles is playing at an extremely high level. The line has gelled and the defense is thriving behind impressive first-year coordinator Billy Davis.
Losing now would blow a lot of the momentum the team has. They should be able to beat the Washington Redskins. This is a club who just lost to the 1-7 Minnesota Vikings. The Redskins have the NFL’s 31st scoring defense and 27th total defense. They’ve allowed an average of 35 points in their previous five contests.
Winning this game really is a must for Chip Kelly. With a win, the Eagles are favorites to win the division. Without the win, they’re just mired with every other team in the middle of a hapless division that no team really deserves to win.