October 12, 2020
The Philadelphia Eagles are 1-3-1 with a point differential of -32, and they're currently 7.5-point home underdogs to the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday. If they played in any other division in the NFL, we would probably be shoveling metaphorical dirt on their 2020 season.
Instead, they play in the horrid NFC East, where they are only a half game back of the Dallas Cowboys, who are now as affected by injuries as the Birds. Prior to Sunday's win over the Giants, the Cowboys learned that they would be without star LT Tyron Smith for the season, due to neck surgery. They were already without starting RT La'el Collins (hip surgery), and perennial Pro Bowl C Travis Frederick (retirement).
As I'm sure you all know, Dak Prescott suffered a gruesome ankle injury on Sunday, and he too is done for the season.
"My heart goes out to Dak and obviously his family," Doug Pederson said on Monday. "You never want to see anybody, whether it be on your own team or even a rival or anybody in the league, suffer these types of injuries. We know that this game is hard enough. Injuries are a part of the game. But these types of injuries, where he could miss, obviously the remainder of the season, multiple weeks for sure, it's terrible."
Prescott was having a wildly productive season before his injury, as he was averaging 423 passing yards per game through the Cowboys' first four games. Much of his production came in catch-up mode, through no fault of Prescott's, as Dallas' defense was unable to keep opposing offensives from lighting up the scoreboard.
Despite the Cowboys' defensive issues, even when they were sitting at 1-3, they were the clear favorite to win the NFC East, as they were less bad than the rest of the division.
At quarterback and their three most important spots along the offensive line, the Cowboys' replacements now look like this:
|QB||Dak Prescott||Andy Dalton|
|LT||Tyron Smith||Brandon Knight|
|C||Travis Frederick||Tyler Biadasz|
|RT||La'el Collins||Terence Steele|
We'll go out on a limb and conclude that the Cowboys' offense won't be as potent as they would be if they were completely healthy. #Analysis.
As such, the Eagles are in position to win the NFC East again, and make it back to the playoffs for the fourth straight season. However, it would likely be less on merit, and more as a result of other team's failures or bad luck, as it has been the last two seasons. For example:
• In 2018, the Eagles needed to beat a mentally checked out Washington team Week 17, while also benefiting from a Vikings loss to a Bears team with nothing to play for in order to get in as the 6 seed at 9-7. Both things happened, and they backdoored their way in.
• In 2019, the Eagles were sitting at 5-7, before feasting on the dreck in their division for four games to close the season once again at 9-7, winning the NFC East.
• In 2020, 9-7 (or even 8-7-1) feels like a pipe dream for this Eagles team, but they likely won't need that to get in again. This year, 7-8-1 should do it, and it's not out of the question that they could actually win the division at 6-9-1, lol.
Since they won the Super Bowl in 2017, the Eagles have steadily gotten worse and worse as a football team, while also becoming older, more prone to injury, and more cap constrained, with fewer young players making an impact. The window for this roster to contend for a Super Bowl is closed. We all saw what a championship team looked like in 2017, and very clearly, this isn't it, or close in any way.
The Eagles should sell at the trade deadline, ideally while shedding contracts of older players in decline, allow for 2021 to be a rebuilding year, and attempt to seriously contend again in 2022 and beyond.
What they cannot do is allow a weakened Cowboys team to cloud their long-term judgment by chasing a hollow division title.