We all know the stat by now, “Teams that start 3-0 have a 75% chance of making the playoffs.”
By this measure, we should be EXPECTING the Eagles to make the playoffs, after all, they only have to go 7-6 the rest of the way to be 10-6, which should be good enough for a playoff birth in this year’s NFC East.
What about the 25% of teams that started 3-0 and didn’t make the playoffs? What went wrong? How do they differentiate from what this Eagles team is doing?
Let’s take a look at recent teams that started 3-0 but failed to make the playoffs.
The 2014 Philadelphia Eagles
*Band-aid slowly being ripped off* Ahh, the 2014 Eagles, nest we forget that this team also started 3-0, but instead of downright dominating the competition like the 2016 Eagles, they started off 3-0 with some of the flukiest wins ever. The funny thing is that we all knew this but threw it by the way-side because they were 3-0. We were still blinded by Chip. If you remember, Darren Sproles saved them against the Jags, saved them again against the Colts and Jason Peters crushed some fools against the Redskins, in a game that ended 37-34. We know how the rest of the season went, Foles got hurt against the Texans, they were 9-3 after destroying the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, then the Seahawks game happened and everyone figured out Chip, the defense was worn down and they lost a must-win game against a measly Redskins team to officially end their season. I felt disgusted just typing that all out. Thank god those days are over.
Verdict: 2016 Eagles: Better QB, better offensive system and a defense that won’t be worn down as the season wears on. The 2016 Eagles might not be as hot (fluky), or start 9-3, but they’ll certainly be a better team.
2015 Atlanta Falcons:
Last year’s Atlanta Falcons team actually started 5-0 before they completely collapsed down the stretch. The Falcons got off to the hot start thanks to an offense that was putting up numbers at a historic pace. They also didn’t play the toughest competition either; they played 4 non-playoff teams and the Redskins to get to 5-0. The downfall of the 2015 Falcons was their unsustainable play through 5 games. Their offense was playing at an extremely high level and really bailed out their defense. Their offense would have to score 24+ points and outscore other teams since their defense would give up at least 20 points per game. Not a recipe for success in today’s NFL.
Verdict: 2016 Eagles: The Falcons may have had the better offense, but these defenses aren’t in the same stratosphere. Also, would you rather have Wentz or Matt Ryan? I think I would take Wentz.
2013 Chicago Bears:
Guess who the Bears beat to go 3-0… They dismantled the Pittsburgh Steelers to a tune of 40-23. The Bears weren’t a terrible team in 2013, and their start wasn’t super-fluky, but once again, the difference between the 2016 Eagles and the 2013 Bears, and with most of the teams that we have compared the 2016 Eagles start to, is that the defenses simply weren’t sustainable, where I think the Eagles’ is. The Bears ranked 30th in defense, a mark that the Eagles won’t come close to approaching and the main difference between these two teams. Also, Wentz > Cutler
Verdict: 2016 Eagles
The final team I’m going to compare the Eagles to is the 2008 Cowboys. I also put this on the list because the Eagles kept them out of the playoffs because of that 44-6 beatdown in week 17 of that year that sent the Eagles to the playoffs and the Cowboys to the golf course. To be honest, I thought this team was pretty good and I definitely feared them. They were a team that absolutely should have made the playoffs and on paper were probably better then the 2016 Eagles.
Verdict: 2008 Cowboys: I know, I know, but an offense that had prime Romo, Terrell Owens, Witten and the two headed monster of Marion Barber and Felix Jones is tough to beat. They also had an underrated defense that had Demarcus Ware, Bradie James and Jay Ratliff. I would still take the Eagles defense as currently constructed but overall, this Cowboys team was probably a tad better and had an impressive start to their season, like the Eagles.
Overall, what did we learn? We learned that defense is key to sustainability in the NFL and the Eagles have just that. That’s why we should be confident in this teams ability to make the playoffs. Even if their offense begins to falter, this defense can help them win games and hold star-studded offenses, like the Steelers, to 3 points. Just give Wentz a shot to win games and the Eagles should be fine.
The defense is a main key, but for the Eagles to truly be taken seriously as a contender in the NFC, they need to get the highly efficient play that we’ve seen from our quarterback– which I am fully confident in. He’s given me no reason to believe that he will all of a sudden shrink if the team is riding high. He’s smart with the football, doesn’t turn it over and has complete control over what to run and when to run it. The balanced approach on offense and the stout defense, makes this Eagles team very scary for the rest of the season.
So, the formula is really simple to make the playoffs, isn’t it? Have a stout defense and get efficient quarterback play. This is something that has gotten the Eagles to their 3-0 start and something that the other teams on this list simply didn’t have.
This team is GOOD.
Now, let yourself believe it for once.