To say the NFC East is the worst division in football is akin to admitting Tab is a bad soda. Everyone knows it. The only difference, bad beverages can be discontinued while bad divisions can’t be taken off the shelves. That means somebody — probably a team with a losing record — will get a home playoff game.
Why not the Eagles? They are the defending NFC East champions and the last squad to raise the Lombardi Trophy from the division. Plus, they have the best quarterback (Carson Wentz) and best coach (Doug Pederson) in the division. Philly has a 51% chance to win the NFC East, according to FiveThirtyEight.
More importantly, it’s all in front of them including three straight divisional matchups over the next four weeks: Oct. 22 vs. New York, Nov. 1 vs. Dallas, Nov. 8 bye week, Nov. 15 vs. New York. So while Dallas holds a half-game lead right now, it’s shaping up for the Eagles to control their own destiny. Again.
It all starts tonight on “Thursday Night Football” with a home game against the hated Giants. The Eagles lead the all-time series 87-85-2. Quarterback Carson Wentz has gone 6-1 for his career versus New York while throwing for 1,820 yards and nine touchdowns (91.6 QB rating).
“We know where the division is at. We know it’s wide open still,” Wentz told reporters. “We didn’t have the good start and the record we were hoping for, or counting on … we know this is a divisional game and divisional games always have a little bit more on the line, not just because there’s a rivalry there but because we know what’s at stake and we know the division is up for grabs for everybody. We know what’s riding on this one and we’re excited for it.”
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Number One Goal: To Win NFC East
The Eagles might be coming off the best back-to-back losses in NFL history. Seriously. While no one will ever admit to moral victories in the NFL, the fact they nearly pulled out improbable comebacks against two potential Super Bowl teams is mighty impressive. Philly lost by a combined 11 points to the Steelers and Ravens.
More impressively, the Eagles overcame a 31-14 deficit versus Pittsburgh and then a 24-6 deficit versus Baltimore. Baby steps which should sharpen their metal in the worst division in football. Eagles players have long talked about winning the NFC East first and foremost anyway. As Jalen Mills reiterated: a 16-0 record only looks good in the record books if you bring the Lombardi home.
“Always goal number one, to win the NFC East. You know, a 16-0 record, it does look good in the record book but at the end of the day, you gotta take care of the East,” Mills told reporters, “And we do have a big challenge ahead of us, regardless of each team’s record, ours and New Yorks — then looking forward to Dallas that week, our games always come down to the wire. They are always tough games. We’re looking forward to it. One week at a time, but we know these next few weeks are going to be tough for sure.”
Keeping ‘Sense of Urgency,’ One Week Mentality
No one in Philly is laughing at or looking past the Giants. Not the fans. Not the players. And definitely not the head coach. The Giants (1-5) essentially have the same record as the Eagles (1-4-1), aside from Philly’s suddenly very valuable tie versus Cincinnati. On Wednesday, Doug Pederson talked about keeping that “one-game-at-a-time mentality.”
“Every week is heightened,” Pederson said. “The sense of urgency each week to win a football game, right? We understand where we are, the sort of the hole we dug ourselves into and it’s all about just one-game-at-a-time mentality. You don’t want to look past the Giants. This is a good football team coming in here Thursday night and we have to be prepared.”
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