HomeDa Birds NewsEagles Maintain Control of NFC East, Yet Face Legitimate Concerns

Eagles Maintain Control of NFC East, Yet Face Legitimate Concerns

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Philadelphia Phillies Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas once famously dropped the line “all the runs are unearned, but who cares” at the end of a disastrous late-season inning for the team. And it felt like “who cares” would have been an appropriate way to cap off the multiple reminders NBC’s Mike Tirico slipped in Sunday that the Eagles still control their own destiny in the NFC East.

Yes, the Eagles do still control their own destiny in the NFC East following a pair of ugly losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys in consecutive weeks. Both the Eagles and Cowboys are 10-3, having split their two matchups this season. Philadelphia is now 6-2 against NFC opponents, while the Cowboys are 7-3. If the Eagles win their final four games — all of which are against NFC opponents — they’ll have one less conference loss than the Cowboys. That would break the tie if the Eagles and Cowboys each finish 14-3.

Receiver DeVonta Smith and the Eagles were crushed by the Cowboys in Week 14. Tim Heitman/USA Today

First of all, though, such an outcome shouldn’t be taken for granted. The Eagles will be favored in all four of their remaining games, but next Monday’s tilt in Seattle will hardly be a cakewalk against a Seahawks team whose playoff hopes are on life support. We would think the Eagles will sweep their two remaining matchups with the lowly New York Giants — which will take place in Week 16 and Week 18, respectively — but strange things can happen when you play a divisional opponent twice in three weeks. And while the Eagles should handily beat former defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s Cardinals on New Year’s Eve, Arizona has pulled off upsets against three playoff-contending teams this year — the Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, and Pittsburgh Steelers.

HurtsAdelphia – Great Jalen Hurts and Da Birds gear

Secondly, the last month of Eagles games — a gauntlet that saw them square off with the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, 49ers, and Cowboys — leaves you with doubts about just how good this year’s iteration of the team is. The Eagles are one of the better teams in the sport in terms of record, but when considering whether they could legitimately win a Super Bowl, it would be foolish to ignore some of the uglier parts about the last month.

While Haason Reddick and Fletcher Cox both made impact plays this evening, a defensive line loaded with talent might not be enough to overcome what’s behind them. Darius Slay and James Bradberry have each had excellent careers, but both cornerbacks are on the wrong side of 30 and have looked like it at moments this season. We’ll see what impact the addition of Shaq Leonard ultimately has, but this is a franchise that hasn’t often put a ton of value on the linebacker position under general manager Howie Roseman, and right now they are very thin at it. And yes, for whatever flaws Gannon had, Sean Desai is in his first year even on the Eagles staff, so there’s been a learning curve.

Offensively, quarterback Jalen Hurts has largely been excellent in 2023, but he has turned the ball over much more than he did in his first three NFL seasons. He’s been picked off 10 times this season, after throwing 19 interceptions between 2020 and 2022. As Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports noted, Hurts has also fumbled in seven consecutive games. Hurts hasn’t had a consistent running game to take pressure off him, as D’Andre Swift has gone over 75 rushing yards just twice since monster performances in Week 2 and 3. And while Brian Johnson may be a future head coach, Shane Steichen was one of the better play callers and designers in the NFL, and the Eagles have missed his presence since he left to become the coach of the Indianapolis Colts last offseason.

Related: Eagles Exposed in Loss to Cowboys – Still a Good Team?

Above all else, the Eagles have looked tired in recent weeks. That’s what happens when you’re consistently in the hole at halftime, and trying to claw back late in games. Sometimes you need a laugher, and coach Nick Sirianni’s squad really hasn’t had any of those this season. The Eagles already had their bye week, and while it can be argued whether the league as a whole would benefit from a second open week per team under the 17-game schedule, that isn’t what’s in place currently. So the Eagles will have to re-energize on the fly over the last month of the regular season.

Exploring the Culinary Delights of Philadelphia Eagles Tailgates with Danny Digiampietro of Angelo’s Pizzeria

What’s worse for the Eagles is that 10 days ago, it felt pretty likely they would have Wild Card Weekend off, by virtue of having the No. 1 seed. Now, the Eagles will need the 49ers — also 10-3, and owners of the tiebreaker against Philadelphia — to slip up for that to become a reality.

On the surface, going 2-2 over this four-game stretch is hardly a disastrous. But how the Eagles went 2-2 makes you wonder if this is a team built to make a deep playoff run this year, even if they manage to win the NFC East and secure the top spot in the conference heading into the postseason.

Dom DiSandro not allowed on sidelines for Eagles vs. Cowboys game

So yes, the Eagles do still control their destiny in the NFC East. But at least for a few days, no one in Philadelphia wants to hear about it.

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