The Philadelphia Eagles are tied for the ninth most difficult remaining strength of schedule in terms of combined winning percentage, with their remaining opponents a combined .533. That looks tough on paper, but when you read between the lines, it looks like Philly could run away with the top seed in the NFC.
The Eagles benefit from playing in the NFC Least, which has been consistently bad. Sure, this season the N.Y. Giants and Dallas Cowboys are off to good starts, but if I told you before the season that the other quarterbacks in your favorite team’s division were Cooper Rush, Daniel Jones, and Carson Wentz, you’d be clicking your heels.
Philly plays every team in the NFC North, which is a mixed bag. And the AFC division they’re matched up against is the AFC South, which may be one of the worst divisions in years — up there with the AFC Souths of the past few years. The Jacksonville Jaguars could very well win it, and they lost all but three games last year.
The Eagles’ opponents having such a high combined winning percentage is largely due to playing each other. This idea is supported by a number of websites that analyze the strength of schedule more deeply than just winning percentages. Pro Football Focus says Philly has the 28th most difficult remaining strength of schedule. Powerrankingsguru.com says it has the 30th.
There aren’t many games on the Eagles’ remaining schedule worth circling. They’ve already made it through two of the more difficult games on their schedule and won — home against Minnesota and on the road at Arizona, two seemingly good but not great teams — but that’s about as beefy as it gets on their schedule.
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Looking ahead, the two matchups against the Cowboys are intriguing with how good the Dallas defense looks. Philly also plays the Green Bay Packers, who are always dangerous. Beyond that… um… the Colts? The Saints? I got nothing.
All this is to say that Philadelphia is already 5-0, and it doesn’t have many tough opponents ahead. I don’t think winning 13, 14, or maybe even 15 games is outside the realm of possibility. It doesn’t look like anyone’s going to catch the Eagles, in part because they are really good — but also because the NFC as a whole looks even weaker than expected.
The two teams that I thought would be at the top of the conference standings when the season was over — the L.A. Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — look flawed, to say the least. Someone said the combination of words that activated the sleeper agent known as Detroit Matthew Stafford. He’s back and better than ever, throwing no-look passes right at DBs and getting sacked over four times per game.
Tom Brady has seven passing touchdowns through five games and is 16th in QBR. If I had told you those were Jacoby Brissett’s numbers, you wouldn’t have thought twice about it. That combined with the Bucs’ total lack of a run game makes it pretty hard to see them being a legit championship contender. Luckily, Tampa plays in a weak division and has roughing the passer penalties to bail it out.
It feels inevitable after just five weeks that for NFC teams, if they want to go to the Super Bowl, they’re going to have to win in Philadelphia. Everyone better get their anti-snowball riot gear ready for the run out of the tunnel onto Lincoln Financial Field.