Philadelphia Eagles: 5 Reasons They Will Still Win NFC East
With the Eagles sitting at 2-4, the road to a repeat as NFC East champions will be a long and difficult one.
They are currently looking up at all three division rivals.
This team must stay hungry and leave its mistakes in the past in order to get to the top.
As bad as the Eagles' season has been, they are only two games out with 10 yet to play.
The opportunities will be there for the Eagles to assert themselves as the team everyone expected them to be.
1. Divisional Games Remaining
In order to climb to the top of the division, the Eagles will need to capitalize on the remaining head-to-head matchups.
Philadelphia has four division games remaining.
Leads and deficits can disappear fast when division rivals square off.
Here is a look ahead at each of these remaining games.
Cowboys: Weeks 8 and 16
The Eagles still have two matchups remaining with the Dallas Cowboys, a disappointing team in their own right.
Philadelphia probably matches up better with Dallas than with either of the other teams in the division.
The Cowboys struggle to run the ball and rely on Romo getting the ball to talented playmakers Miles Austin and Dez Bryant.
Defensively, the Eagles struggle to stop the run but have cornerbacks capable of marking the Dallas receivers.
Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel will have to be on top of their respective games, but they have the necessary talent.
The biggest concern for the Eagles defense will be finding a way to slow down tight end Jason Witten. Using Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will likely be the best option, since none of the Eagles linebackers will be able to contain him.
On the other side of the ball the Eagles must find a way to block DeMarcus Ware, another difficult task.
However, if Jason Peters and company are able to keep Michael Vick upright, the Cowboys will have a tough time matching the Eagles' team speed.
The Eagles have a team that could give the Cowboys a lot of trouble, but expect two tightly-contested games.
Giants: Week 11
As things stand now, this will be the biggest game on the Eagles' schedule.
Not only are the Giants leading the division, but they already hold a head-to-head win over Philadelphia.
Eli Manning threw for four touchdowns against the Eagles in the first matchup. Don't expect this to happen again.
Rookie Casey Matthews lost Brandon Jacobs for one score and another came via missed tackles on Victor Cruz.
The Giants are likely to use Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs to test the soft interior of the Eagles defense.
The keys to this game will be controlling the Giants' rushing attack and containing their talented ends so that Michael Vick stays in one piece.
These things are easier said than done, and it will be a tough test for the Eagles, but they must rise to the occasion.
Redskins: Week 17
The Redskins shot themselves in the foot during their loss to the Eagles. Well, really Rex Grossman shot them in the foot.
The Washington defense fought hard and kept the team in the game despite Grossman's four turnovers. The offense just couldn't get it going.
In Week 6, the Eagles executed the blueprint that they will need to use again in the season finale.
The linemen pinched in from their typical wide-nine formation, and the team tackled well. The Eagles were able to limit the Redskins to only 42 yards on the ground.
Whether the Redskins play Grossman or John Beck going forward, the Eagles must challenge them to put the ball in the air.
This New Year's matchup could decide the playoff lives of both the Eagles and Redskins.
2. Potential Issues Facing Each Division Foe
There has already been plenty said and written about the Eagles' struggles, and all of this criticism is warranted.
However, consider some of the difficulties that lay ahead for their division rivals.
Here are some of the issues that could trip up the teams the Eagles are chasing.
Giants: Brutal Schedule
The New York Giants are currently leading the NFC East with a record of 4-2, but they have some tough sledding ahead.
Coming out the Week 7 bye, the Giants get a nice home matchup against the 0-5 Miami Dolphins, but after that their schedule is unforgiving.
The Giants will get each division opponent at home, but they also have to host the Green Bay Packers.
That is a long list of talented teams to contend with. Nobody wants to see Brees and Rodgers in back-to-back weeks.
The Giants will step up and win some of these games, but with that schedule, they are unlikely to pull away from the pack.
Redskins: QB Controversy
In Week 6 against the Eagles, we saw vintage Rex Grossman.
He threw four interceptions before giving way to backup John Beck.
Mike Shanahan has yet to announce who will start at quarterback going forward, but it's safe to assume that whoever it is will not have a great resume.
Their quarterback situation is beginning to look more and more like the mess that many expected before the season began.
The Redskins have been successful by avoiding costly mistakes and relying on a strong defense.
If Grossman reverts to his old turnover-prone self, the Redskins could fall quickly.
Cowboys: Felix Jones and Ground Game Hurting
The Dallas Cowboys are a bit of an enigma.
There have been times this year when they looked like a dominant team.
Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are a lethal combo.
There have also been moments when the Cowboys seemingly couldn't get out of their own way.
Tony Romo has served as both hero and goat this season. Ultimately, this team lives and dies by Romo's ability to carry them through the game.
The Cowboys' running game has been absent all year. They enter Week 7 ranked 27th in the NFL in rushing yards per game.
Now they are facing the next several weeks without Felix Jones.
The Cowboys need to find some semblance of a rushing attack if they want to preserve leads and close out games.
3. Eagles Schedule
The Eagles' remaining schedule shapes up about as favorably as they could hope for.
Philadelphia will play six of its remaining 10 games at home—including their first three out of the bye.
They should also benefit from facing some of their toughest remaining opponents at home. Games against the Patriots, Jets and Bears will all be played at Lincoln Financial Field.
The team faces a sneakily tough matchup out in Seattle and still has to travel to Dallas.
There are no easy games in the NFL, but all things considered, the Eagles schedule will give them a chance.
4. Returning Players
Coming off the bye, both the Eagles' offensive and defensive fronts will receive a major lift. Trent Cole and Jason Peters should each be nearing their return.
Cole recorded a sack in each of the team's first three games. He also made some nice contributions in run defense despite lining up outside in the wide-nine.
Getting Peters back at tackle will give the Eagles a strong left side of the line. Lost in the drama of this season has been the surprisingly effective play of guard Evan Mathis.
In addition to Cole and Peters, the defense will begin adding Brandon Graham into the mix.
Fans shouldn't expect too much from Graham as he comes off of a serious knee injury, but anything that last year's first-rounder can provide will be a nice bonus.
The Eagles are not the only team that will get players back from injury. However, the difference lies in the caliber of player.
Adding Pro Bowlers at left tackle and defensive end will definitely help the cause.
5. Growth and Familiarity
It goes without saying that the Eagles of Weeks 2-5 will not get a sniff of a division title.
One could argue that those mistake-riddled losses revealed who the Eagles truly are.
However, it's also possible that after a horrendous start, this team will play closer to the level that was expected.
Problem areas and issues remain, but it's reasonable to think that the Eagles will continue to grow and learn from their mistakes.
The offensive line should improve as rookies Danny Watkins and Jason Kelce will only get better. Jason Peters will be taking back the left tackle position, and everyone should continue to become more comfortable with Howard Mudd's blocking scheme.
The run defense will struggle at times, but if the Eagles can jump out to a lead this problem will be mitigated. That was the plan coming into the season—get ahead and force teams to throw against talented corners and Jim Washburn's relentless pressure.
The Eagles have been a colossal disappointment, but believe it or not, there is still hope for this team to turn into a division champion.
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