The 2018 season for the Philadelphia Eagles is at a crossroads. Coming off of a must win encounter with the Giants, the Eagles find themselves at 3-3 on the season. The Cowboys are 3-3 as well after their impressive win against Jacksonville and the Redskins are atop the division at 3-2. The Eagles travel to Carolina next week to face a team that Washington just beat. After dropping the ball against teams the Eagles should have beaten earlier this season, it’s time for the Eagles to finally take care of business. The win against the Giants was a start for sure, but the Giants, to put it kindly, stink. It was a nice victory to get their swagger and confidence back, but the real test for the 2018 campaign starts now. Three of four teams in the division control their own destiny when it comes to the pursuit of the division crown and with almost all of the divisional games remaining, who will come out on top is up in the air.
A Look Back at TNF
Carson Wentz has been terrific since his return, and in my opinion, very few, if any, of the offensive struggles before the Giants game were any fault of his. On Thursday Night Football, Carson completed 26/36 passes and threw three touchdowns, dissecting the Giants defense and cruising the Birds to a huge win. Teams like the Packers, Patriots, and Saints always feel as if they have a chance because of their quarterback, even if the team is struggling. With Carson Wentz, the Eagles give off that same feeling. I’d still like to see the Eagles take more shots down the field, but without a deep threat and the Eagles having the lead for most of the game, it’s understandable why we didn’t see much of that against the Giants. With Carolina on the horizon the Eagles should look to come out with their foot on the gas to build another early lead.
Alshon Jeffrey has been phenomenal since his return to the Eagles. In three games, he has 18 receptions and three touchdowns, and as you can see in this chart from against the Giants, he is running a variety of routes all over the field. Sitting out the first few weeks and coming back completely healthy seems to have been a wise move by Jeffrey and the Eagles. We’ll see if he can continue his dominant showing next week against the Panthers.
A Note on the Defense
I don’t have much to say about the defense against the Giants. They didn’t convince me that their problems will go away because, well, it’s the Giants and Eli Manning, quite frankly, isn’t good anymore. Saquon Barkley ran for 130 yards on only 13 carries (plus 99 more receiving), and the Eagles for the most part looked pathetic in their attempts to tackle him. In a week, they’ll face Cam Newton, who is better than Eli Manning, and Christian McCaffrey poses the same kind of speed and pass catching ability out of the backfield that has butchered this Eagles defense this season. Luckily, the Panthers don’t have many receivers with deep threat ability that can burn our secondary in the same way the Vikings and Bucs do. Despite what was overall a successful showing against New York, it would be more reassuring to see the Eagles defense shut down Newton and the Panthers next week.
As I said at the beginning of this article, the Eagles season is at a crossroads, and I can see it going three different ways. The first scenario is the one that Eagles fans hope and dream will happen. Coming off this Week 6 victory, the Eagles gain momentum and go on a winning streak, beating the Panthers, Jags, and Cowboys, perhaps losing a shootout to the Saints, and then beating the Giants and Redskins. That would land them at 8-4 with the Cowboys, Rams, Texans, and Redskins remaining. In this scenario, an 11-5 finish is more than likely, and even 10-6 with divisional victories incorporated would probably secure them as division winners. This however, is the best case scenario.
Scenario two is less optimistic. Here, the Eagles’ defense never quite figures it out and the Eagles’ offense continues to shoot itself in the foot. Talks of “Super Bowl hangover” run rampant throughout the city as the Birds drop winnable games late and see their morale deflated week after week. If the Eagles were to take this road, a 7-9 finish would be believable. What would be maddening about this is that even at 7-9, they’d likely only be two or three games out of winning the division and getting into the playoffs, and we’ve already seen three losses that could have gone the other way. Thankfully, there’s a third and more likely road this Eagles team will take.
The third scenario is somewhere between roads one and two. In this one, the Eagles don’t see any long winning streaks, but avoid crippling streaks of losses as well. They battle it out in divisional games and finish at 9-7 or 10-6, narrowly winning the division and slipping into the playoffs. This would be a “normal” NFC East year, where all four teams look quite ugly at times and very good at others, but a slightly above .500 record is enough to take the divisional crown. I’d say this is the most likely, but I still haven’t lost faith in scenario one, and as I mentioned previously, as long as we have Carson Wentz, I think we have a chance. Here’s to hoping the Eagles go down the right road.