The Eagles continued their march to the Super Bowl on Sunday, and the Cowboys, despite a super talented quarterback, saw their division hopes go six feet under. It's over for Dallas in the NFC East. Dead, buried, shovel the dirt.
The game, won by Philadelphia 37-9, never even raised the question of who's the best in the NFC East. What it did raise was this: Can anyone in any NFC division stop the Eagles?
Could the New Orleans Saints? Sure. The Minnesota Vikings? Maybe. Seattle Seahawks? Possibly. But as we keep watching this Philadelphia team, we have to probably start penciling the Eagles in not just as one of the favorites, but almost a lock as the favorite. They are that good, talented, nasty and well-rounded.
They are absolutely frightening as hell.
There was a statistic the NFL tweeted that tells you where the Eagles are headed:
Randall Liu @RLiuNFL
The @Eagles are closing in on 9-1. Entering this season, 50 @NFL teams started 9-1 in the Super Bowl era: 50 made the playoffs (100%) 23 advanced to the Super Bowl (46%) 11 won the Super Bowl (22%) https://t.co/TssKFLkViK2017-11-20 04:09:52
This was one of Philadelphia's most impressive wins of the year, and in the first half, they didn't even play close to their best. They had a linebacker at the kicker spot. Carson Wentz was good but not his normally spectacular self. They have a castoff from the sorry Miami Dolphins, Jay Ajayi, at running back.
Still, they won. By 28. These less-than-perfect performances—Dallas led at halftime, 9-7—are actually galvanizing for a team. When you win in a way other than the norm, and especially while obliterating a rival, it exponentially increases the confidence of a team. And the Eagles are a confident group. They scored 30 unanswered points in the second half.
But they are not cocky. In the locker room after the game, the team was happy but not overjoyed. The guys were playing a song from the group Cameo. No one was wearing the red jock strap thingie the lead singer sported.
"We try to enjoy the ride," said defensive back Malcolm Jenkins, who had an interception in the fourth quarter Sunday, "but we also keep our eye on the larger prize. We never get ahead of ourselves."
Is this a Super Bowl team?
Jenkins smiled. "We never get ahead of ourselves," he said.
Then Jenkins, who had four tackles and an interception, added an important point: "We are a well-rounded team. That's why we're 9-1."
They can beat you in the air. On the ground. With their defensive front or their secondary. Or special teams.
While the Eagles haven't mathematically won the division, it's essentially theirs because of a four-game lead with six games to go.
More importantly, this team won't be satisfied with a mere division title. Their goals are much loftier, and the only teams that can stop them in the postseason might be the Vikings or Saints. The Seahawks might be too injured to give Philadelphia a good fight.
Wentz statistically didn't have his best day. He was 14-of-27 for 168 yards and two scores. He was still, at times, simply stunning. One play in the fourth quarter showed off his excellent skill set. He was under pressure from Dallas linebacker Damien Wilson, who was right in Wentz's face. Wentz, at 6'5" and 237 pounds, shimmied Wilson off his shoulder and completed a pass downfield.
This team is impressive in a number of ways. On the field, it is probably the best in football. The Eagles remind me of the early days of the Bill Walsh San Francisco 49ers" target="_blank">49ers dynasties. Walsh, Montana and Rice were the headliners, but those teams had players on every part of the roster.
They could pummel you or delicately pick you apart. Pick your poison.
Off the field, many of the players, like Jenkins, are social-justice fighters, who are huge presences in the community and nationally.
The fact that these two things—football and fighting for the voiceless—meld seamlessly isn't a coincidence. The Eagles are a rarity in the NFL in that they function on both planes exceptionally well.
On this day, the Eagles buried the Cowboys. It's over for Dallas and the division.
For the Eagles, there is so much more to come, and the league should be scared. Really scared.