The Eagles narrowly lost to the New England Patriots 17-10 Sunday, and there are no shortage of reasons why. Carson Wentz struggled throughout and couldn’t lead a single scoring drive after taking an early 10-0 lead. The Eagles’ wide receivers continue to be among the NFL’s worst. The offense overall, even though going against a top-tier Bill Belichick unit, seemed to lack any punch or creativity again. However, the hardest part of the season is nearly over and the Eagles are a game off the NFC East lead at 5-5. It may sound crazy, but here are five reasons the Eagles can run the table and finish 11-5:
1) The schedule.
We’ll start with seemingly the most obvious reason this is possible. The Eagles are almost into the clear after going through the meat of their schedule since Week 6. Next up is a home game vs. Seattle which will no doubt be another test. Then they face Miami, the Giants, Washington, Dallas (possibly for the division), and the Giants again. Dallas will no doubt be tough, but it will be in Philadelphia, where the Eagles are due for a win vs. the Cowboys. The Eagles have lost 4 in a row to Seattle dating back to 2011, and 6 out of the last 7 dating back to 2002; their sole win was a 2008 game in the Pacific Northwest. This is another rivalry where the tides are due to change, and the Eagles’ track record at home under Pederson suggests they won’t drop consecutive games in South Philly.
2) The defense.
The Eagles’ defense has come to life since the debacle in Dallas nearly a month ago. They have been downright ferocious vs. the Bills, Bears, and for the most part they stifled Tom Brady and the Patriots on Sunday. Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox are healthy, Tim Jernigan is back, the combination of Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby has restored order to the secondary. While the offense is trying to figure things out, the defense has given them the chance to win every single week since they’ve been healthy. If that continues, the Eagles can beat Seattle, Dallas at home, and all the other opponents in their way.
3) The run game.
It was somewhat maddening to watch the Eagles get away from the run against New England. With their depleted and ineffective receiving corps, passing the ball didn’t seem to be the way to win that game against New England’s top secondary. There’s no excuse Pederson can give to explain why Miles Sanders only saw 4 touches after halftime. As the Eagles get Jordan Howard back, they need to get back to their running game, their “identity” they said they found. They will have Howard, Sanders, and Jay Ajayi going forward and need to utilize them. They can win and win consistently by going back to that “boring” brand of football. It’s what this team is built to do right now, especially with the defense holding the score low.
4) This time of the year is when Doug Pederson thrives.
Even going back to 2016, the first season of the Doug Pederson era, the Eagles have seemed to play their best football in December. Save for 2017, when the offense was trying to figure out how to operate with Nick Foles following Carson Wentz’s torn ACL, every season the Eagles seem to get rolling late. No one knows why they can’t make it happen all year, but better late than never. We’re approaching that time of the year again that this team always seems to make a run for it. The division is there for the taking, still.
5) Carson Wentz’s track record bouncing back.
Since 2017, whenever Wentz has had a truly bad game, whether let down by his supporting cast or not, he always has followed it up with a bounce-back performance or a winning streak after. After a loss to the Seahawks in 2017, Wentz rebounded with a signature career performance in LA. Despite that being the game he was lost for the season, he was in the midst of his best game (4 TD passes in less than 3 quarters) in a back-and-forth classic on the road against a 9-3 team that the Eagles absolutely had to beat. After the 2018 loss at New Orleans, Wentz led a comeback over the Giants the following week and a 2-game win streak. Following Atlanta/Detroit this year, Wentz went on the road and out-dueled Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay on a short week. After the Dallas loss in October, Wentz went on the road and beat Buffalo, then Chicago, to help steady the Eagles’ ship.
If the past holds true, Carson Wentz will bounce back vs. the Seahawks this Sunday at the Linc. If the Eagles can pull this game out, the opportunity to put a big winning streak together is right out in front of them.
It sounds crazy right now, but crazier things have happened in the NFL. The Eagles finishing this season 11-5 seems like one of those crazy things, and there’s certainly a possibility it may just happen.