Regardless of the fact that the Philadelphia Eagles are tied for the NFC East division lead with the Dallas Cowboys, I still see them for what they are. The Eagles are a team that is still in the process of recovering from a hole that Andy Reid and the prior regime left them in, but because they have happened to catch the NFC East in a week year and seemed to get hot at the right time, they are considered the NFC East favorite as we enter the stretch run of the 2013 season. Still, a loss to any team doesn’t surprise me, because this is still a young, inconsistent team, that could very well be affected by the bye-week.
That isn’t to say that I haven’t gained confidence in this Eagles team, because I have. Led by Conner Barwin, the defense has made an incredible turnaround, even from where they were the first five weeks of the season. And with the offensive genius that is Chip Kelly calling plays, mixed with an improved offense line, and explosive play from Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson, I’m not sure that the Eagles couldn’t shock any team through the remainder of the regular season and potentially into the playoffs. And that is what makes evaluating this team so difficult.
The Eagles showdown against the Arizona Cardinals next week is crucial in establishing whether the Eagles will be able to carry the same momentum out of the bye-week, that saw them win three straight before going into it. And they may have caught the hottest team in the entire NFL.
The Cardinals are fresh off of a 40-11 beatdown, of the playoff contending, yet extremely unpredictable, Indianapolis Colts. Carson Palmer appears to have revitalized his career after a down-year in Oakland, which in turn has allowed Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd to have extremely productive seasons. Not to mention their defense isn’t half-bad either. They only have the second ranked rush defense in the entire NFL.
That being said, it’s entirely possible that given two weeks to prepare, Chip Kelly and the Eagles offense are dialed in early on and win this game handily. Do you see my point?
Don’t confuse what I’m trying to get across. My point isn’t to make you feel bad for little old me, that I have the unfortunate distinction of being one of the rare sports fans who gets paid to talk about the games and has to be troubled to make predictions. I love that aspect of trying to predict what may sometimes seem unpredictable. My point is that I think that on any given week, regardless of the opponent, the Eagles can win because their offense, led by a genius playcaller, can be elite. Or we could come out of the bye week and get a Nick Foles against the Cowboys performance out of the offense, which not only saw Foles struggle, but LeSean McCoy as well.
My hope coming out of the bye week is that we see the same Eagles that went into the bye, with an explosive offense and a defense that may bend, but refuses to break. It would be hard for the offense to improve, although they could seemingly continue to produce at this high level, and the defense still has room to improve. The defense could, god forbid, take a step back as well. Again, the Eagles are extremely difficult to predict because of the uncertainty on both sides of the ball. Maybe that keeps me from getting my hopes up too high, which could prove to be a good thing if they do struggle out of the bye week. I’m cautiously optimistic, but far from over confident about the Eagles playoffs hopes.
But if the Eagles are able to stay hot out of the bye week, I have completely changed my perspective on their playoff hopes. Do I think this is a Superbowl team? Hell no. But, I think if they are able to stay hot out of the bye-week and into the playoffs, they could win a game. Earlier in this season, I thought even if the Eagles made the playoffs, it would be because they won a terrible division, and they would be a lock to be a one and done. If they can continue to be consistently productive, not only on the offensive side of the ball but on the defensive side as well, then the Eagles wouldn’t be a team that I would want to meet in the playoffs. If.