Eagles Wake-Up Call: The State Of the NFC East

For the segment of the fan base that still believes the Eagles can make a run in the final nine games, Sunday was a good day, as the Giants, Cowboys and Redskins all went down to their respective opponents.

Here are the current NFC East standings:

 
Record
Division Record
Point Differential
Giants6-32-2+69
Eagles3-41-0-35
Cowboys3-51-1-31
Redskins3-60-1-22

While the Giants remain the clear favorites, they have not yet run away with the division. Tom Coughlin’s squad blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead yesterday at home to the Steelers. The defense allowed Isaac Redman to pile up 147 yards (5.7 YPC), and the offense managed just six points on five second-half possessions. Eli Manning turned in his worst performance of the season (10-for-24, 125 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT). In the past three weeks, Manning’s thrown one touchdown and four interceptions (leading some to make Mark Sanchez comparisons). Next up for the Giants is a trip to Cincinnati before the bye and a Week 12 matchup with the Packers.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys, who were in a similar spot to the Eagles, came up short in their bid to hand the Falcons their first loss. Julio Jones and Roddy White combined for 12 catches and 247 yards. Thanks in part to miscues by the Cowboys’ defense, the Falcons put together a 12-play, 66-yard drive, taking 5:04 off the clock to ice the game late in the fourth quarter. Needless to say, Jason Garrett is feeling the heat. The Cowboys play the Eagles twice in the next four weeks, including a matchup Sunday at the Linc.

And finally, the Redskins lost their third in a row, falling to the Panthers, 21-13.

“Now you’re playing to see who obviously is going to be on your football team for years to come,” Mike Shanahan said, per The Washington Post. “Now we get a chance to evaluate players and see where we’re at. Obviously, we’re not out of it statistically, but now we find out what type of character we’ve got and how guys keep on fighting through the rest of the season.”

The Redskins have the bye next week and then play the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants.

So, where does all this leave the Eagles?

The deck is still stacked against them for a number of reasons, but with a win over the Saints, they would be 1.5 games behind the Giants. The Eagles have five of six division games remaining in the final eight weeks. As for the wild card, a victory tonight would put them in a group with a handful of other teams that are either at .500 or within one game of .500.

Of course, the truth is that the Eagles have not shown in the first seven games that they are capable of making a run. They have lost three in a row (four of five) and have the worst point differential in the division (-35). In fact, in the entire NFC, only the Rams (-49) have been outscored by more points than the Eagles.

Tonight could go one of two ways. Perhaps the players-only meeting was a good thing, the team will play inspired, the pass-rush will get going, and the offense will take advantage of a horrible Saints defense. They’ll thrive on being underdogs and build some positive momentum going into the second half of the season.

Or we’ll see more of what we’ve seen in the first seven weeks, Drew Brees will do what Drew Brees does, the wheels will fall off, and much of the conversation in this city the rest of the way will be centered around who the next head coach (and quarterback) will be.

Either way, there will be something to talk about around 11:30 tonight.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Looking for Eagles-Saints previews? Here are my cheat sheets: Part 1 and Part 2. Both contain some All-22 images of what New Orleans does offensively and defensively.

Admit it. When you heard the news that Sean Payton could become a free agent after this season, you at least thought about the possibility of him coaching the Eagles. Tim explains why that is probably a longshot.

Jeremiah Trotter went off on Jason Babin in regards to his comments on fan behavior. T-Mac’s got the details.

“I just love this game so much,” said defensive tackle Mike Patterson, who has been activated for tonight’s game. Details on his return right here.

Nate Allen will be a game-time decision. If he can’t go, David Sims will get his first career start. Full injury report right here.

Over the weekend, there was a report that Michael Vick felt some assistant coaches wanted him benched. Vick and Andy Reid denied the report on Saturday.

And finally, Tim took a look at the link between Reid and some of the team’s newer players.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Mike Tanier of SportsOnEarth.com predicts a 28-17 Saints victory:

Reid appears to be applying the wrong solutions to the wrong problems; you get the impression that Reid spent Hurricane Sandy laying rock salt on his driveway, and that he will spend winter blizzard season fretting over his sump pump. You also get the impression that he will have plenty of time to do so.

Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com goes with the Saints, 34-27:

These aren’t fun times to be an Eagles fan. It’ll only get worse. I’m taking the Saints.

COMING UP

We’ll have new content throughout the day, leading up to the game. And Tim and I will live-chat the Monday night matchup, so be sure to join us.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • Kevin

    Maybe it is a blind hope, wishful thinking or musings that this team has heart, but I still think they can win. I’ve seen them punch the Ravens and Giants in the mouth, there is the talent. I know they haven’t quit. Just need something, anything to build some positive momentum and confidence. I get the feeling they are playing not to screw up and no matter what you are doing, you can’t have success doing that. If you are worried about your mistakes, you are bound to make them. To quote Morpheus (Matrix), “Stop trying to hit and hit me.”

  • Myke Lowery

    Prior to yesterday’s games..Eagles have third easiest remaining schedule based on this season’s win loss records.

    • Septhinox

      You can’t look at the schedule that way. The Eagles are an enigma. Are they a team that should trash bad teams? They should have lost to the Browns in all actuality and they are horrible. If this was a definatively good/great team I’d agree with you. However, this team is not and every game will be a nerve-wracking, nail-biting, Reid-cursing experience.

  • Absecon

    Seems to me it all rides on tonight. The (apparently) recent reactions by the players to all the outside stuff is a really bad sign. They will implode from the pressure if they don’t start heading north with tonight’s game. A south-bound train will be H-e-double-hockey-sticks on Wheels…and if you watch the tv show of the same name, you know that’s not a pleasant place to be….

  • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

    If they get a win tonite I feel better about the rest of the season. Say what you want about VIck but he has owned the East the last couple of years. We have 5 of those games left. I think we could win 4 of them maybe even a clean sweep. SO…let’s just cross our fingers (and legs and toes) that they get it together tonite.

  • brownshadow17

    I don’t get your first statement ” the fan that still believes”. Why should anyone right this team off. We don’t face a team even at .500 until the giants, and we’ve shown we can beat them. Also, the giants have a very tough schedule coming up. We haven’t looked our best, but I find it hard to believe even the most skeptic of eagles fans have to think we hold the advantage over CAR, TB, and CIN. Also the last two years we’ve been 5-1 in division play and had our best games.

    • brownshadow17

      I meant write this team off