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:
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
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.
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.
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.