Are They Ready?

Posted: February 6th, 2023 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on Are They Ready?

A lot has been made of the Eagles having an easy schedule. I’ve seen fans and media members push back on this idea, but it’s true. The Eagles did have an easy schedule. They’re not alone, though. Several teams had easy schedules.

2022 was a weird year for the NFL. The defending Super Bowl champion Rams lost 9 of their last 11 games. They didn’t beat a team that finished with a winning record. The Lions struggled early, but then got hot and just missed the playoffs. The Giants and Seahawks both overachieved and made the playoffs, but I don’t know that you could refer to either as a good team.

The AFC West was supposed to be far and away the best division in the NFL. Russell Wilson and the Broncos were an epic disaster. The Raiders lost close game after close game. The Chargers were as erratic as always. You never know who will show up when they take the field.

In my humble estimation, there were only 6 teams that I would really call good this season. The Chiefs, Bengals and Bills were the AFC trio. The Eagles, Niners and Cowboys were the NFC trio. Other teams had good peaks (the Ravens, Dolphins, Jags), but also some bad stretches. The Vikings won a historic amount of close games to finish 13-4. Analytics told us all year they were frauds. Then they lost at home in the wild card round, proving the numbers right.

The Eagles did play a soft schedule. But it wasn’t like they avoided teams. They didn’t drop the Bengals so they could face Kent State. There just weren’t many good teams this year. All you can do is play the teams on  your schedule. When the Eagles did play teams with winning records, they won.

The Eagles beat the teams they faced. How’d they do against playoff teams?

…when the Eagles faced playoff teams, they went 7-1 with a plus-115 point differential. That was 51 points better than any other team. And their one loss to a playoff team (to the Cowboys, in Week 16) came with Gardner Minshew at quarterback.

That nugget is from a great stats piece by Sheil Kapadia.

Does the schedule matter at all?

The value in playing tough games is having them get you ready for the postseason. The Eagles winning a pair of playoff blowouts is an incredible rarity. Normally you’re going to be in a tight game. If you’ve been through a challenging season, that won’t phase you. If you’re used to blowing teams out, a close game might bring pressure and lead to mistakes.

Normally you might say this gives KC an advantage, but they weren’t much different. Football Outsiders had the Eagles with the easiest schedule in the league. They had KC with the fourth easiest. Neither team faced a gauntlet of great challenges.

So what about close games? KC is 7-3 in one-score games, 2-0 in playoffs. The Eagles are 7-1 in one-score games. Similar number, similar results.

I would say the Chiefs are the more proven team and that gives them an advantage, but they’ve got a lot of new players this year that are in key roles. Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Chris Jones have all been to the Super Bowl. The WR corps is completely rebuilt. Only one starting OL returns from their last SB appearance. The back seven is almost entirely new and features four rookies. The big names are basically the same, but the surrounding cast is largely new.

The Eagles had their share of challenges this year. There are two areas where they aren’t real tested…comebacks and shootouts. Jalen Hurts led the team to a comeback win over the Colts. The Eagles failed to make a comeback against Washington. The only real shootout came against Dallas when Gardner Minshew was in at QB. The Eagles were so good that they controlled most games. We’ll see if they can pull that off in the Super Bowl.

One thing we do know. The Chiefs won’t be scared if they trail. Mahomes was down 20-10 in the 4th quarter in a previous SB and won. He won that amazing playoff game against Buffalo last year, an epic shootout and comeback. The Chiefs almost never get blown out. Another great nugget from Mr. Kapadia.

They bring a 16-3 record into this game (including the playoffs) and their three losses have been by a combined 10 points. No team has beaten the Chiefs by more than four points this season. And they’re the underdogs!

If we zoom out, Patrick Mahomes has started 93 games in his career. In those games, the Chiefs have either held a lead or been within one score in the fourth quarter 90 times. What the Bucs did to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl two years ago (a 31-9 Tampa Bay win) is extremely rare. It is nearly impossible to put Mahomes away and blow out the Chiefs.

That’s crazy.

It will be interesting to see if playing in a tight game does affect either team.


I think one advantage the Eagles have is a clear goal. All 32 teams wanted to win the Super Bowl, but we know that teams can lose focus at times. The Bengals beat KC three straight times and got in their head. The Chiefs celebrated their AFC title game win by talking a lot of trash to the Bengals and Bengals fans. They were desperate to beat that team.

The Eagles played SF because they were the next team on the schedule. No drama. No feuds. Just an oppponent.

I’m curious to see if KC will have the same focus in the Super Bowl. If you’re an older Eagles fan, you’ve seen first hand that a team can have a letdown after winning an emotional title game. The 1980 Eagles beat the dreaded Cowboys at The Vet and that game felt like the Super Bowl. But it wasn’t and they had a sloppy performance in the real game, losing 27-10 to the Raiders.

The 2004 Eagles had a huge chip on their shoulders, having lost the previous three NFC Championship games. That team beat the Falcons and then lost to the Patriots, 24-21. Another sloppy performance in the biggest game.

The 2017 Eagles didn’t have that baggage and were able to win it all. The current team doesn’t have any emotional baggage. We’ll find out soon enough if that helps them.


Some health updates.

Hardman is their fastest receiver so losing him hurts. Adding CEH will help, even though he’s been disappointing overall. The Chiefs have been able to move the ball and score points with whoever is on the field. That’s a tribute to Reid’s coaching and Mahomes’ ability. Two special guys.

Brett Kern hasn’t exactly been great since replacing Siposs. If Arryn can show he’s ready, you would think they’ll bring him back for Sunday.


Big Red got to meet some of his old guys.

Very cool to see that.


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