So, you’re saying there’s a chance?
After a rocky start (to say the least) to the 2021 NFL season, the Philadelphia Eagles have found their groove, making it very likely the team could reach the playoffs this year.
The Birds’ 30-13 victory against the Denver Broncos, gave Philadelphia a 26% chance as they headed into Sunday to play the New Orleans Saints. With a 0-4 record at home this season, the team faced the last team they won at home to, 11 months ago.
Both the offense and defense put up a strong fight, earning their second consecutive win, 40-29. As for their current playoff odds — 40%, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index.
RUSH-LESS TO RUSHING TOWARDS PLAYOFFS
The Philadelphia Eagles began this season as a dysfunctional team with a stagnant run game. In Weeks 1 through 7, the team rushed a total of 817 yards, averaging 116 yards per game. But Week 8 was an entirely different story and is likely why the Eagles now have a fighting chance at playoffs.
Without Sanders (who was on IR for an ankle injury), Boston Scott and Jordan Howard quickly established a run game. The Eagles totaled 236 yards and four rushing touchdowns in their blowout win against the Detroit Lions. Since then, the Philadelphia has rushed for at least 175 yards in four consecutive games for the first time since 1950. They are now second in the league with 153.4 yards per game, trailing the Cleveland Browns.
Following Sunday’s game, quarterback Jalen Hurts stated, “I think identity is not being able to run the ball or ‘we’re a running team’, ‘we’re a passing team’, or ‘we’re a team that doesn’t give up big explosive plays.’ That’s not what identity is. Identity is a mentality. It’s a mentality, it’s an approach, it’s the detail you put in day in and day out throughout the week. It’s being physical, it’s wanting it, it’s effort. It’s all of those things. I think that’s what we want to be. That’s what we’re growing to and what we’re evolving into. Its’s being a team that control what we can, and we know when we control what we can.”
Hurts continued, “We’re a dang good football team and it’s taken some growth; it’s taken a lot. And we’re still evolving, we’re still growing, we’re still leaning from a lot of different things. We just want to continue to control the controllables. Continue to connect with one another and know that everybody has each other’s backs out there in the field and continue to move forward with that mentality of ‘rent is due everyday’. That’s the identity of this football team.”
While it’s no surprise the Eagles run game has picked up, so has the remainder of the team. Hurts has been more accurate, DeVonta Smith is becoming more relevant, Dallas Goedert is proving why he’s TE1, and the defense has found their rhythm with Darius Slay likely heading to the Pro Bowl.
With six games remaining, the Eagles are in a good position with the second-easiest closing schedule in the league.
LIKELY PLAYOFF CONTENDERS
The top five seeds in the NFC are pretty much a lock — Cardinals (9-2), Packers (8-3), Rams (7-3), Cowboys (7-3), and Buccaneers (6-3). The Bucs will play their Week 11 game on Monday (against the New York Giants).
However, both Wild Card spots are up for grabs with seven teams, including the Eagles vying for a position. The other six — Saints (5-5), Vikings (5-5), 49ers (5-5), Panthers (5-6), Falcons (4-6), and Washington (4-6).
The Eagles currently hold tiebreakers over the Saints, Falcons, and Panthers, giving them a huge advantage; however, their next two games are essential.
“We knew if we win them all, we’re going to be in the playoffs,” stated running back Miles Sanders.
The Eagles head up the turnpike next to play the New York Giants and the New York Jets before their bye week.