We're only four weeks into the 2022 NFL season, and we're already down to just one undefeated team: The Philadelphia Eagles are 4-0.
Whenever the NFL gets down to one undefeated team, the question inevitably arises: Can that team produce a perfect season? It hasn't happened since the 1972 Miami Dolphins, though the 2007 New England Patriots came close, losing only in Super Bowl XLII.
In all likelihood, the Eagles will lose at least once. Flukes can happen to even the best teams—the Kansas City Chiefs' loss to the Indianapolis Colts last week made little sense—and Philadelphia has yet to be challenged by a perceived elite team.
The '72 Dolphins seem destined to pop Champagne sometime before the postseason—even if that tradition might not actually be a tradition at all.
But there are reasons to believe the Eagles have a shot at immortality. Much of it starts with Jalen Hurts and an offense as dynamic as any in the NFL.
Hurts, a 2020 second-round pick, has evolved from a relatively raw run-first dual-threat quarterback into a complete field general since taking over as the full-time starter last season.
Hurts has only 123 pass attempts, but he's averaging 280 passing yards per game and a league-best 9.1 yards per attempt.
Hurts can attack all areas of the field with his arm, and he's still a dangerous and physical runner. A quarterback who can carve up secondaries and finish power runs cannot be found on very many rosters.
The Eagles have someone special in Hurts, and head coach Nick Sirianni and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen have built a perfect scheme around him. Hurts also plays behind an offensive line—Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo and Lane Johnson—that is arguably the best in the NFL.
"There may not be a single below-average starter along the Eagles offensive line," Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus wrote in June. "Pair that with arguably the best tackle duo in the NFL, and there’s no debate about which team's offensive line belongs at No. 1 heading into 2022."
With A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert and Miles Sanders also in the mix, the Philly offense is a juggernaut. The Eagles rank second in total offense and fourth in scoring.
Hurts has emerged as a leader as well, and he's helped give the Eagles a resilient mentality. Though Philadelphia fell behind 14-0 to the improved Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, there was no sense of panic.
Being able to rack up points is one thing. Understanding that such an ability will always keep a game competitive is another.
Of course, the Eagles don't rely solely on their offense. They have a star cornerback in Darius Slay and a stout defensive front led by Fletcher Cox and made impactful offseason additions.
The Eagles added James Bradberry, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Haason Reddick, who already has 3.5 sacks. The unit ranks third in total defense and ninth in points allowed.
And it played a huge role in Philadelphia's comeback against Jacksonville.
The Eagles are a rare team that can take over games offensively or defensively. This makes them extremely tough since one unit can go through a rough stretch and another can carry the load.
"I'm not sure there's a team in the NFL that has a better roster than them right now," Ross Tucker of CBS Sports and Westwood One said on The Dan Patrick Show on Monday (beginning at the 25:36 mark).
Philadelphia doesn't have a glaring weakness, and it has avoided significant injuries too. There was some concern coming out of the Jaguars game that Mailata (shoulder), Seumalo (ankle), Slay (forearm), Jake Elliott (leg) and Avonte Maddox (ankle) had suffered injuries.
But Sirianni made it sound as if no one will miss significant time.
"We think that everybody has a chance to play this weekend," he said Monday, per Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia. "I don't want to come out and say that quite yet just in case some things happen. But we do believe everybody has a chance to play this weekend."
Philadelphia also has one of the league's easiest schedules. In terms of 2021 winning percentage, only the Washington Commanders and Dallas Cowboys have an easier road.
This doesn't, however, mean that every game will be easy.
But games that appear tough on paper are few and far between. Philadelphia has two matchups with the Cowboys, who are 3-1 even though backup quarterback Cooper Rush has been behind center for the last three weeks. The Eagles will visit Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals this week and host Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in Week 12.
The Tennessee Titans, upstart New York Giants and New Orleans Saints could also provide tough competition.
There isn't a team that has played better than the Eagles, though, and Philadelphia could be favored in every remaining game.
The Eagles are already among the favorites to reach and win the Super Bowl. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Philadelphia is 8-1 to win it all. Only the Buffalo Bills (4-1) and Kansas City Chiefs (7-1) have shorter odds.
The big question is whether the Eagles can keep building momentum, continue to avoid the injury bug and make it through any trap games. Opponents aren't going to sleep on Philadelphia, and it can't take anyone lightly. Everything will have to align perfectly for the Eagles to even sniff an undefeated season.
That's highly unlikely. There's a reason no team has replicated the Dolphins' feat in 49 seasons. Winning is hard. Winning every game is borderline impossible.
Borderline, but not entirely. Eventually, another team will finish a campaign without a loss. The Eagles have the talent, the leadership and the schedule to have as realistic a shot as there has been in some time.
Will Philadelphia go undefeated? Probably not, but it's the only team that has a chance. Until an opponent figures out a way to knock them off, the Eagles can maintain dreams of having their own Champagne celebration at season's end.
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