Eagles Go into Bye Controlling Their Destiny
The Eagles escaped a close one at the Linc as RGIII sealed the win with a god awful pass on third down. Now while the story of the day has been the first home win in over a year, the important note is that with only six games left the division is theirs for the taking.
The Eagles have been playing their best and most consistent football over their three game win streak and it’s on both sides of the ball. Because it’s the nature of the league at this point, we’ll start by digging into the offense.
The biggest story right now is Nick Foles and it’s not even close. Whether you think he’s a product of the system or a Hall of Famer #9 is doing a good job of moving the Eagles down the field and breaking the red zone curse of Andy Reid. In his five starts, Foles has racked up 1,554 yards and 16 touchdowns while completing 63.6% of his passes. He’s also proven to be a serviceable read-option runner, which was the biggest criticism.
Then there’s the fact that this system is maximizing the skills of LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson. Both players are having career season thus far and will likely shatter those prior numbers. McCoy has over 1,400 yards and six touchdowns….with seven games left to play. He’s leading the league. For DeSean, he has 58 catches for 975 yards and seven touchdowns—making him destined for the Pro Bowl. This duo was supposed to be good but damn has Chip Kelly used them well.
There’s also credit that needs to be given to the offensive line. They’ve really improved across the board the last few weeks and deserve a lot of credit for the recent success of the team. Here’s why: Nick Foles has been hit only seven times in the last three games (five sacks, two hits)! That’s just phenomenal work.
Now for another fun offensive fact. The Eagles lead the league in big play offense. They’ve run 67 plays that have earned more than 20 yards and 18 that have registered 40 or more yards. This team hits home runs.
Now for the defense, who has also been given a lot of praise over the last few weeks. They’ve allowed 17, 15, 13, 20, and 24 points over the last five games and performed well in the red zone. What makes this unit so effective all of the sudden? The defensive line.
The line is by far the strongest point on the defense. Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton, Trent Cole (He’s essentially a lineman), Vinny Curry, even Brandon Graham. All of these guys are doing a fantastic job of disrupting offenses, which benefits the sub par secondary.
On the back seven, DeMeco Ryans, Connor Barwin, Brandon Boykin, and Bradley Fletcher have proven to be reliable starting options. Not bad for a team in a rebuilding year.
Now sure, the Eagles are playing well but as they head into the bye what makes them in control? Let’s take a look at the schedules of the NFC East:
|vs Cardinals||vs 49ers||@ Giants||vs Cowboys|
|vs Lions||vs Giants||vs Raiders||@ Redskins|
|@ Vikings||vs Chiefs||@ Bears||@ Chargers|
|vs Bears||@ Falcons||vs Packers||vs Seahawks|
|@ Cowboys||vs Cowboys||@ Redskins||@ Lions|
|@ Giants||vs Eagles||vs Redskins|
Let’s start with the last gasp team here in the 3-7 Redskins. The Skins need to win every game left on their schedule to win the division. Given how inconsistent they are on a quarter to quarter basis, I don’t see how they win more than two or three games on the schedule. See ya next year, fellas.
Now there’s the Giants, who at 4-6 are the hip pick to win the division. After a miserable start they’re back to playing signature Giants football. The run game is performing well with Andre Brown and Brandon Jacobs. Jason Pierre-Paul is inching back to his top form, and they’ve gotten Victor Cruz going again. Make no mistake, this team is dangerous and their schedule is just winnable enough to make the playoffs a reasonable goal still.
However, as Eagles fans the most important game will be this Sunday as the Giants and Cowboys meet. The Cowboys have a 3-0 division record and that is the first tie-breaker in the event of a tie in record so root for the Giants on Sunday.
Now it comes to the Cowboys. Dallas has a fairly friendly schedule as they play no elite teams and could be lucky enough to play against Luke McCown and Scott Tolzien over Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers. The Boys are a talented team and their offensive firepower is undeniable, but they’re seriously hurting on the defense. Their already depleted linebacking corps has just lost it’s stud in Sean Lee, who will be out for 3-4 weeks with a hamstring injury, and DeMarcus Ware still isn’t fully recovered from a quad injury.
Speaking of injuries, the Eagles don’t have any major injuries at this point. They’re a very healthy team going into the latest possible bye of the season. There’s also the fact that they’re playing their best football all season and have a friendly schedule. If they can remain healthy and beat one of either the Bears or the Lions, this division should be over before week 17 anyway.
Chip Kelly for coach of the year?
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