In an improbable season, Eagles are playoff bound

by Marc Narducci | Jan 3, 2022
In an improbable season, Eagles are playoff bound

Now that the Eagles are in the playoffs, they might be playing with house money, but they don’t look at it this way.

During last week, likely future Hall of Fame center Jason Kelce stood up and spoke to his teammates, saying they were as good as anybody they played.

Then they went out, overcame another slow start and earned an improbable playoff berth with one week to go in this wacky and unpredictable NFL season.

Remember all the criticism for rookie coach Nick Sirianni after his less than loquacious opening press conference?

And even more during the season, especially during his flower speech?

Or when they fell to 2-5 with a 33-22 loss at Las Vegas that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated?

Even after a 27-24 home loss to the Los Angles Chargers that dropped their record to 3-6, few were giving the Eagles a chance at earning a postseason berth.

Sure, it helped that their schedule turned soft after the Chargers loss, but they had to immediately beat two teams with winning records at the time they played them, Denver and New Orleans.

The 30-13 crushing of host Denver began the turnaround and then a New Orleans team that was among the best defensive teams at the time in the NFL, lost 40-29 in Philadelphia in a game wasn’t as close.

Yes, there was the surprising loss to the New York Giants, who at this point might be the worst team in the NFL, but the Eagles have now won four in a row to take a 9-7 record into Saturday night’s home game with the Dallas Cowboys.

Most of all, the person who deserves plenty of credit is Sirianni, who has shown the ability to adjust. He began the year with a pass-heavy offense, realized that wasn’t the best fit for quarterback Jalen Hurts and has watched the Eagles evolve into the most dangerous running team in the NFL.

If the playoffs were held this week, the Eagles would be the No. 7 seed and visit the Los Angeles Rams, but there are so many other potential first round opponents for the Eagles.

The key now is whether Sirianni rests his starters for Saturday’s 8:15 p.m. home game with the Cowboys.

After losing on Sunday to Arizona, Dallas can no longer clinch the No. 1 seed and the only first round bye. Green Bay has already clinched the top spot.

So one has to wonder how both coaches will handle playing time. On Monday, Sirianni wouldn’t divulge his strategy about his starters while Dallas coach Mike McCarthy said he doesn’t plan to rest his starters.

Dallas can still earn the No. 2 seed.

That said, Eagles, despite opening the playoffs on the road and no doubt in an underdog role, have the opportunity to be a dangerous playoff team.

The Eagles lead the NFL in rushing with 2,566 yards. They are averaging 5.0 yards per carry.

In the playoffs, a running game is even more crucial. If the Eagles play the Rams, or even another prolific offensive team such as Tampa Bay, the best way to keep the opposing offense off the field is to have a strong ground game.

One thing is assured – even though the Eagles will be underdogs, nobody should relish playing them in the postseason. And who could have said that even a month ago?

Photo Courtesy of Philadelphia Eagles

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Author: Marc Narducci

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