The Contenders

Posted: November 27th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 60 Comments »

The Eagles are 10-1 and have the best record in the NFL. That’s great, but the important thing is to really focus on the NFC since that is the playoff picture that is worth looking at. Let’s take a look at some of the other key contenders in the NFC.

PHI 10-1
MIN 9-2
LAR 8-3
NO 8-3
CAR 8-3
ATL 7-4
SEA 7-4


The Vikings are legit. They are Top 8 in yards and points, for and against. Case Keenum is playing out of his mind WR Adam Thielen has really emerged this year after a solid 2016. Their defense has playmakers at every level. They have beaten the Rams and Saints this year, but both were home games.

In some ways, this team reminds me of the Eagles. They are playing well as a team. They don’t have elite players all over, but there is outstanding chemistry. The OL got fixed in the offseason and that has made all the difference in the world.


Those next two games will be good tests for the Vikings.


The Rams are another team to take very seriously. They beat the Saints yesterday and looked pretty good. The Rams remind me of the Joe Gibbs teams. Big, powerful runner. Physical OL. QB that loves to throw deep and is good at it. Quality defense.

I had Jared Goff rated as my top QB in the 2016 draft and you can see why when you watch him play this year. He’s smart and makes good decisions. He has a solid arm and is an accurate passer. Sean McVay has done a brilliant job of coaching and has brought out the best in Goff.

Wade Phillips has the defense playing pretty well, but they are vulnerable to the run.

Losing to the Vikings and beating the Saints showed how talented, but erratic this team is.


That’s a tough three-game stretch coming up in a couple of weeks.


I have had trouble buying into the Saints. They did win 8 games in a row. They ran the ball incredibly well. They played good defense. And they have a guy named Drew Brees, who doesn’t completely suck.

Because they have been so mediocre for so long, I have trouble trusting them. Teams like the Eagles and Rams have undergone major change. Sean Payton and Brees have been together for more than a decade. They do have a great rookie class, highlighted by RB Alvin Kamara. He carried the offense on Sunday and it wasn’t enough.

They were missing a pair of CBs on Sunday and that hurt them, but this team has given 26 or more points five times this year. They are vulnerable to good offenses. Their defense stifled some bad and/or struggling QBs.


None of those are easy on paper. The Jets are battling and Tampa has shown some heart in recent weeks. The Saints will show us just how good they really are.


The Eagles already beat the Panthers. Carolina has an outstanding defense, but the rest of the team is all over the place. There are times when Cam Newton looks like the 2015 MVP and other times when he’s awful. Christian McCaffrey is coming along, but hasn’t been the dynamic force they expected. TE Greg Olsen got re-injured on Sunday and that’s not good.

@ NO

Depending on which Packers team shows up, that could be a very challenging stretch run.


The Falcons have now won three games in a row and look to be rounding into shape. And they’ve done that without star RB Devonta Freeman. He’ll be coming back at some point and should give them an added boost.

Atlanta is a team to take seriously. It wouldn’t surprise me for them to win the NFC South. Matt Ryan can get red hot and do great things with that offense. The defense is all over the place, but can be very good at times.

@ TB
@ NO

That’s a brutal schedule. If this team gets on a roll, they can win all those games and really get everyone’s attention. Or they could struggle and miss the playoffs.


Seattle always has a puncher’s chance because of Russell Wilson. He carries that offense (and too often the whole team) on his back. But he’s such a dynamic player and he’s so unflappable that he keeps them in every game. Seattle has only lost one game by 10 or more points in the last two seasons.

The Legion of Boom…ain’t. Richard Sherman is on IR and Kam Chancellor is hurt. Earl Thomas has dealt with his share of injuries in the last year or so. The defense is vulnerable. Seattle has given up 33 or more points three times this year.

Their offense is extremely erratic. Wilson is the leading rusher. He has to scramble a lot because the OL is a mess and has been all year long. But Wilson is able to find a way to make that work. Seattle is 8th in yards and 10th in points.

One big issue for them is kicking. Blair Walsh has missed FGs in three straight games and has cost them at least one win. This team isn’t that far away from being 9-2, but they sit at 7-4.


That’s a challenging stretch starting on Sunday. Seattle still has a lot of pride so don’t count this team out yet. And you don’t want to face them in the playoffs. This is a team you want sitting home in January.


The Eagles have their own tough test with games at Seattle and at the Rams. It will be good to find out how this team responds to playing tough opponents again. The recent stretch hasn’t been much of a challenge.

We won’t be worrying about points spreads and stats. The Eagles will have to play well to win. That’s exactly what they need as they head toward the postseason. It would be great to see this team go 14-2 or 15-1, but the number one goal is winning the Super Bowl. Playing tough competition is the way to get ready for that. I hope the team is challenged the next couple of weeks.


60 Comments on “The Contenders”

  1. 1 Forthebirds said at 9:29 AM on November 27th, 2017:

    The good news is, aside from the beat down of Da Bears, the teams challenging the Birds for the number 1 seed, have difficult schedules and have to play each other. I think 13-3 gets us the top seed.

  2. 2 Someguy77 said at 9:31 AM on November 27th, 2017:

    Rather see the Falcons get bumped from the playoffs. Never like to see an experienced playoff team get hot late and make the playoffs.

  3. 3 teltschikfakeout88 said at 9:31 AM on November 27th, 2017:

    We have 3 road games in a row…tough games against Seattle and LA Rams… and then a trap game against the Giants…This will certainly be an interesting stretch of games to play…I would love for them all to be blowouts but…would not mind a tough battle in the 4th Q on the road against Seattle…I don’t take too much of the Rams homefield advantage as it will be in the very large Colliseum and I expect Eagles fans to fly out in droves to do what they do…Hopefully it is Christmas early for Eagles fans on that weekend…a loss to either of these two teams is not the end of the world and will tell us a lot about us as well as these NFC West teams…

  4. 4 xeynon said at 9:59 AM on November 27th, 2017:

    I agree with most of what you say, but I don’t think there’s any chance @Giants is going to be a trap game.

    Firstly, they’re a division rival.

    Secondly, that game is likely to either be close to meaningless (if we beat both the Seahawks and Rams and the Vikings/Saints stumble again) or critically important to our playoff seeding (if we don’t or one of those teams is still on our tail).

    I don’t think there’s any chance the Eagles aren’t prepared for that game.

  5. 5 Bert's Bells said at 10:57 AM on November 27th, 2017:

    Also there’s no such thing as a “trap game”.

  6. 6 unhinged said at 4:14 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    As a colloquial term with subjective interpretations, there sure as as hell is.

  7. 7 Bert's Bells said at 4:20 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    There’s no such thing as “hell”.

  8. 8 unhinged said at 5:34 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    Got me.

  9. 9 BlindChow said at 7:04 PM on November 27th, 2017:

  10. 10 Masked Man said at 9:48 AM on November 27th, 2017:

    Russell Wilson has been accounting for over 82% of his team’s offense with his passing and running. He’s the key to stopping the Hawks. Our front seven needs to be focused.

    Byron Maxwell is starting at CB for Seattle these days due to the injuries. Miami cut him and Seattle needed help badly so there he is. He’s a target for our passing game.

    Keep Wilson in check and take advantage of that soft secondary and we’ll be fine. Go Eagles!

  11. 11 xeynon said at 9:56 AM on November 27th, 2017:

    The next two weeks are going to decide how the stretch run plays out.

    If the Eagles go 2-0 against the Seahawks and Rams, they’re in the catbird seat for the #1 seed and will probably be able to rest starters for at least one week at the end of the year.

    If they go 1-1, they’re still the favorites, but will have less margin for error and will likely need to play out the string on full throttle and possibly beat Dallas in week 17 to lock up the top seed.

    If they go 0-2, it’s anybody’s conference. I still think they’re likelier than not to get a first round bye, but the #1 seed becomes significantly dicier.

    Luckily all the other NFC contenders have tougher stretch schedules than the Eagles do, so they’re all likely to take additional losses as well.

  12. 12 P_P_K said at 10:00 AM on November 27th, 2017:

    Tommy, this is a terrific analysis of the NFC playoff picture, the is best overview of anything I’ve gotten from any other news source. Thanks.

  13. 13 daveH said at 10:39 AM on November 27th, 2017:

    Consecutive flights out west an issue for us ?

  14. 14 DJH said at 10:44 AM on November 27th, 2017:

    They will be staying out there, I believe.

  15. 15 kajomo said at 10:56 AM on November 27th, 2017:

    This has been confirmed for months. The eagles actually requested to play the chargers and rams back2back for this very reason.

    Does the stay in the WC have an impact? We will see, but if any team can handle it it’s these eagles

  16. 16 Sean E said at 1:32 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    Going west is a lot easier than going east IMO.

  17. 17 A_T_G said at 1:37 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    Well sure, going east it would be at least a 20 hour flight to Seattle. Unless you are one of those Flat Earthers, then it would be pure suicide.

  18. 18 kajomo said at 2:41 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    I honestly didn’t know there were people dumb enough to be a flat earthier until last week. Blew my mind

  19. 19 Sean E said at 3:08 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    I think they ‘believe’ it ironically

  20. 20 A_T_G said at 9:30 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    A guy raised money in a GoFundMe to build his steam powered rocket that will carry him high enough to photograph the edge of the disk. He just postponed it.

    No irony, but so many questions.

  21. 21 sonofdman said at 1:40 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    Not true. The jet stream makes flights going east take less time than flights going west.

  22. 22 kajomo said at 2:40 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    It’s the time change not the time on the flight that has the greatest impact

  23. 23 sonofdman said at 3:49 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    I know. I’m just messing around a little.

  24. 24 daveH said at 7:51 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    But your theory is true during an El Nino year .
    . and even more true IF they don’t get direct flights !!! would be heavily accentuated .. even more if they flew Southwest and had to fly thru that hub regardless of where their flight path is

  25. 25 kajomo said at 2:40 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    Late games are tougher going west because they are 3hrs behind. An 8:30 game feels like 11:30pm

    Early games are worse going east because a 1:00 game feel like a 10:00am game

  26. 26 FairOaks said at 12:34 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    Brandon Graham confirmed that in a radio interview I heard today

  27. 27 RobNE said at 1:08 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    why do we hope the team is challenged? I hope they beat everyone by 25.

    The Pats aren’t sad the AFC East has stunk for 15 years. I’m continually baffled by the reasoning that we should hope for a tough division, or touch games (which imply some of those will be losses). Look at the still ongoing domination of SB victories by the Pats, who often beat some cupcake in their first playoff game and have to beat one semi competent team at home to go to the SB.

    I’ll take # 1 seed over let’s have some really tough games every time.

  28. 28 Bert's Bells said at 1:22 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    As much as I love seeing Napoleon Dynamite under center, I enjoy watching them win tough games way more than knocking around teams like a bored Madden player.

  29. 29 CTbirdsguy said at 1:46 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    NickFolesian Dynamite **

  30. 30 scratcherk said at 1:32 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    upvote x 10

  31. 31 ChoTime said at 3:55 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    the tougher the teams you play -> the closer games you’re involved in -> the more adversity you face -> the better your eye test -> the more swagger you acquire -> you win.

  32. 32 FairOaks said at 6:25 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    That’s the theory. But as mentioned, New England has only faced periodic good teams during the season, and they have been just fine in the playoffs. They have plenty of swagger.

    To me, the bigger the lead, you don’t have to play quite as much on the edge, and may make slight “business decisions” from time to time — which may reduce the risk of injury. I like the big leads, but would prefer to play just the occasional good team to keep honed. A bad division plus playing a 1st place schedule should do that usually.

  33. 33 RobNE said at 10:28 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    But you’d have to argue having a worse record but being battle tested is better for a SB run’s chances than being slightly less tested but the 1 seed.

  34. 34 ChoTime said at 10:11 PM on November 28th, 2017:

    my post was meant as a joke… probably not very funny though.

  35. 35 or____ said at 1:22 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    I think Case Keenum hate is utter bs.

  36. 36 RobNE said at 1:26 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    i love the top 20 countdown.

  37. 37 A_T_G said at 1:34 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    Ten demerits to the first person to call the Seattle game a trap game. It feels as though we have played nothing but trap games for months now.

    It seems odd that all of the playoff contenders in the NFC play against each other the last few weeks of the season. Maybe it is just perception, but it seems like in past years there would be the occaisional matchup and a lot of hoping that an upset by someone out of the running helps out the second tier teams. This year it seems as though everyone has ample chance to help themselves.

  38. 38 FairOaks said at 2:22 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    After what Seattle did to us last year, there should be no looking past this game whatsoever. It will be the best QB we have faced for a while (and maybe best so far this season). Better test for the defense, though their OL is likely the main solution.

  39. 39 Howie Littlefinger said at 3:16 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    Russel “Real Dak” Wilson

    He’s top 5 qb. Should be fun.

  40. 40 Guy Media said at 4:40 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    Last year? And 2014. And 2011.

  41. 41 Howie Littlefinger said at 3:14 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    The only real trap game was dallas

    We ran a lot of trap plays in that game.

  42. 42 or____ said at 4:25 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    Well done sir.

  43. 43 ChoTime said at 3:53 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    Black Mirror ref?

  44. 44 A_T_G said at 9:19 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    It wasn’t, but I am intrigued.

  45. 45 ChoTime said at 10:12 PM on November 28th, 2017:

    pretty cool episode… it’s on Netflix.

  46. 46 unhinged said at 4:05 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    Yet to come. Ample chances yield to time.

  47. 47 Masked Man said at 4:10 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    The Admiral Akbar Award
    = Ten Demerits now?
    Oh, price went up…..

  48. 48 Guy Media said at 4:39 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    It’s like a triple revenge game. They need to win this for organizational pride!

  49. 49 TO BLACKS said at 2:31 PM on November 27th, 2017:


  50. 50 TO BLACKS said at 3:12 PM on November 27th, 2017:


  51. 51 Guy Media said at 4:35 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    “Because they have been so mediocre for so long, I have trouble trusting them.”

    Tommy put this really well. Basically New Orleans needs to accept their station in life as a 7-9 team, sit down, and shut up. Their only legitimate function at this point to to help keep Carolina out of they playoffs.

  52. 52 FairOaks said at 6:22 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    They hit on a bunch of players in the draft this year. That can make a big difference very quickly. However one of those, plus their other starting CB, was out this past game, which likely affected them a lot. Their secondary used to be utter trash so they didn’t have a whole lot behind Lattimore, and his absence is likely a pretty big deal.

  53. 53 kajomo said at 7:04 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    This is why I don’t really respect Brees. The guy pads his stats, but does not seem to elevate those around him. Rogers has similar talent around him and carries his team to the playoffs every year. Brees has elite stats, but is not a true winner. I’ll take the Saints in Philly any Sunday.

  54. 54 A_T_G said at 9:18 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    Except Easter Sunday. That just seems like asking for trouble.

  55. 55 EJ said at 5:54 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    I remember some of the discussions about Goff vs. Wentz before the draft. One of the concerns with Goff was his small hands and how well he would be able to play in cold weather. How cold does it get in January at the Linc ? LOL.

  56. 56 DJH said at 6:10 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    How well will Goff be able to hold onto the ball with small, cold hands when he’s got one or two of our half dozen 300 lb defensive linemen hanging on his back?

  57. 57 DJH said at 6:20 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    I was at the game yesterday watching it live. All of the RZ TDslooked easy but it wasn’t until I was able to rewatch today and see the analysis that I again understand how special Pederson’s playcalling and Wentz’ execution really are.

    Even so I remain most impressed and encouraged by the defensive. They I believe will lead us deep into the playoffs.

    I think this mainly because of the their experience as a unit, and the individual experience of Schwartz and several of the players.

    Obviously our offense and defense are complimenting one another in stellar fashion and elevating one over the other isn’t necessary. But as I cautiously look forward to the playoffs, I am most confident about our defense.

  58. 58 daveH said at 7:55 PM on November 27th, 2017:

    The next month and a half is Pretty much gonna decide it all from here

  59. 59 ColorSgt said at 12:16 AM on November 28th, 2017:

    Was Smallwood inactive for cowboys game? I was surprised… but not really… he was inactive this week. He really seems like the only guy not contributing on this team. Heck even Foles is playing fourth quarters.

  60. 60 CrackSammich said at 12:08 PM on November 28th, 2017:

    Yes. He was inactive.