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August 10, 2023

Eytan Shander: Why the Eagles won't win the Super Bowl this year

Columnist Eytan Shander breaks down why the Eagles won't win Super Bowl LVIII

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The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t winning the Super Bowl.

Not this year. 

A little over a year ago I wrote about why the Eagles were a fantastic bet to win the Super Bowl. They met criteria, matched history, and had enough veterans combined with young guys making a jump. It worked all the way to hedging in the final game to make some profit. That’s only here to remind you that I have your best interest in mind  always.

Put it like this — if the Philadelphia Eagles are to win this year’s Super Bowl, it would be the single greatest accomplishment arguably in the history of the NFL. The Birds didn’t take long but this would trump even a backup QB in Nick Foles leading a team to glory  especially over the New England Patriots and Tom Brady.

No, this would be even more magnificent of an accomplishment as it is daunting of a task. You already have them in the winner’s circle no doubt, mainly because they were so close. If they could do it last year so easily, then what’s stopping an equally — if not more — talented team? You’ve probably looked around the rest of the division, conference, maybe even the league, and thought how bad the QB position is. Maybe you’ve even reasoned out why the Niners or Cowboys or Vikings will fall flat. You’ve scoffed at up-and-coming teams, knowing they aren’t as talented nor as well coached as the Eagles.

Most people do that following a team losing in the Super Bowl, we are far from alone. Yet it would be the first time in over 50 years that a team from the NFC would return to the Super Bowl after losing the previous year.

Going Against History

That’s just the tip of the iceberg as history remains unkind to the Eagles and their quest to win another Lombardi Trophy. I’m sure you’ve seen the absurd stat circulating around social media where the last 16 quarterbacks to lose in their Super Bowl debut have not made it back. While Joe Burrow’s bid to get back is far from sealed, it’s hard to think that Jimmy Garappolo or Jared Goff will ever see that game again. Can Hurts? Absolutely. But there are others who took over the league and led their teams to the final game, only to be handed a loss and never return. Remember Cam Newton? The former Heisman winner destroyed NFL defenses leading the Panthers to the Super Bowl and making Ron Rivera the Coach of the Year.

Hurts is dynamic. He’s crushed defenses. He was nearly unstoppable all the way through the final game against the Kansas City Chiefs. While his version of dynamic looks different than Newton, Donovan McNabb, Steve McNair, or Drew Bledsoe (all debut losers who never made it back) Hurts is not an anomaly. At least not yet.

How about that strength of schedule? Okay, so the easy argument against how difficult it seems would be how much of this is based on last year. I get it. There’s constant turbulence within each conference in who makes or misses the playoffs, added chaos with the extra wild card spot for each side.


There’s a truer metric to determine just how difficult an upcoming schedule will be — the Westgate SuperBook 2023 season win totals. By adding up the opposing win totals based on their over/unders or expected wins, the Eagles stand out with the most difficult schedule. One of the sharpest handicappers to ever grace the public eye is Marc Lawrence who takes his SOS (Strength of Schedule) metrics a step further. Lawrence (as noted on page 14 of his Playbook 2023 Football Preview Guide) takes the expected win totals from Westgate and “adds division and non-division games on each teams’ schedule.”

The teams with the softest SOS went 65-28 including a Super Bowl run by last year’s Eagles team!

So, the Eagles took advantage of having the softest SOS last year and now face a tougher task this year. Oh how drastic a change that is combined with the history that now works against them. Is Hurts the exception? Patrick Mahomes was. The Chiefs went 17-3 last year off the toughest SOS in the league. So, it can be done. You just need a Mahomes.

I know. The Eagles are different. They have the best OL in the NFL, a deep and talented defensive front, insane speed, and hands at the receiver position, a top-five tight end in the league, a top-two QB in the league, an up-and-coming star head coach, and the best damn front office in the entire sport.

Since 2000, at least one of the two teams from the previous Super Bowl has missed the following playoffs 64 percent of the time. That means there’s a two-thirds chance that at least the Eagles or Chiefs will miss the playoffs. There’s plenty of gap that says both can make it, but that’s a huge number working against both teams making it back. Looking at the talent on both squads and it’s difficult to figure how either team misses the playoffs, but people thought the same from the 2001 New York Giants through the 2022 LA Rams.

You want more numbers? Some great data comes from Lawrence and his Playbook, where four of the last six teams to lose the Super Bowl by a field goal failed to return to the playoffs in the following season.

Everything on paper says the Eagles walk back into the Super Bowl. Everything from the history of the league says they won’t. Hurts and company may be the exception to the rule, as was Mahomes or even Joe Burrow last year to a lesser extent. The reality is that winning the Super Bowl this year would be the single most impressive accomplishment, arguably, ever in the NFL. There are so many built up trends and pieces of historical data that would work against this team, that by bucking those trends and winning, Hurts and his team would solidify their place in history.

Just as Nick Foles and that 2017 team did, this one would cement their spot two times over. First, as the ultimate trend-bucker, the team that stood in the face of all of the numbers and data crunched against them. Second, it opens the door for the dynasty talk assuming they continue to defy odds and make it back to the playoffs.

This is what the Eagles are up against and there isn’t a soul in the city who thinks they can’t get it done.

Follow Eytan on Twitter: @shandershow

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