NFC East Reporter
The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t even halfway there yet, so it’s too early to start thinking about the 1972 Miami Dolphins. At this point, a perfect season is just a distant dream.
And to be honest, it’s not even his dream.
“At this particular point, being 8-0 is sweet,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “It’s the alternative of being 7-1 or 6-2, right? We know our goal wasn’t 8-0.”
“I mean, I’ve been 8-0 before and lost the national championship,” quarterback Jalen Hurts added. “We haven’t achieved anything yet.”
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No, they haven’t, not story-wise. What they have done is hardly unique. They are the 29th NFL team to start a season 8-0 in the Super Bowl era, including the 2007 New England Patriots, who went 16-0 during the regular season but lost in the Super Bowl. Most recently, the Pittsburgh Steelers won their first 11 games two seasons ago.
Still, the Eagles are the NFL’s only perfect team left this season, the only team to start 8-0 in franchise history, and the schedule ahead of them isn’t daunting. They play three more games before their next matchup against a team with a current winning record. They are now two games into the NFC East and easily beat the team with the second best record in the NFC – the Minnesota Vikings 7-1.
From the outside, it doesn’t look like there’s much in its way.
Inside, however, neither Sirianni nor Hurts will allow such talk. They’ve been very focused on the short-term goal of getting ready for whatever game is coming up, while making sure everyone understands that the long-term goal is something more important than regular season perfection.
And it’s worth noting that while every NFL team that started 8-0 in the last 57 years made the playoffs, only eight of them won the Super Bowl. In fact, none of the last 10 teams that started 8-0 ended their season with a championship. The last to do so were the 2009 New Orleans Saints, who started 13-0.
“Yeah, sure, 8-0 is fine right now,” Sirianni said. “But that’s not the goal. There’s a lot of goals, but none of them can be accomplished if you don’t take care of the business every week. Make sure we do this job that we need to do.”
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So how long can the Eagles keep “taking care of business” before someone catches them? Here’s a look at what’s ahead and who could get in the way of their quest for an undefeated regular season and a possible perfect season, whether they’re trying or not:
Week 10 – vs. Commanders of Washington (4-5), Monday, November 14
Division games can be tricky, but you probably don’t need to worry about this one. The Commanders will still be led by QB Taylor Heinicke, who hasn’t really gotten his offense going and has shown he’s prone to making big mistakes in the wrong spots. That plays right into the hands of an Eagles defense that leads the NFL with 18 sacks.
Week 11 – at Indianapolis Colts (3-5-1), Sunday, November 20
Frank Reich made a messy season worse when he fired QB Matt Ryan for Sam Ehlinger, then fired his offensive coordinator and watched it all implode in a big loss at New England on Sunday, where they were held to just three points and 121 total yards. Of course, now Reich is out and former Colts center, and Georgia high school football coach, Jeff Saturday is taking over (yes, really), making the Colts a legitimate laughingstock. Maybe RB Jonathan Taylor (ankle) will be back, but the Colts likely need a lot more than that to make this a contest, even at home.
Week 12 – vs. Green Bay Packers (3-6), Sunday, November 27
Sure this game looked prime time worthy before the season, but the Packers and QB Aaron Rodgers are a shell of themselves. They have topped 20 points just four times in nine games this season. And Rodgers just threw three interceptions in a 15-9 loss to a Detroit Lions team that entered with the NFL’s worst defense. The Eagles should have no problem here.
Week 13 – vs. Tennessee Titans (5-3), Sunday, December 4
Not only is this the next winning team on the Eagles’ schedule, but it could be the team that poses the biggest threat to their perfect record. Watch how they took the Kansas City Chiefs to overtime on Sunday night. They will win a lot of games behind RB Derrick Henry, who is still one of the best and most physical running backs in the NFL, plus an underrated defense and a great head coach in Mike Vrabel. Henry is a particular problem, as the Eagles’ only glaring flaw thus far is their defense. They are giving up 121.4 yards per game and sometimes go on long stretches where their matchups are just plain bad.
Week 14 – at New York Giants (6-2), Sunday, December 11
The talent on the Giants roster is no match for the Eagles, but they have been playing over their heads all season. And they have a perfect weapon to beat a tackle-challenged Eagles defense: Saquon Barkley. In fact, he may be more dangerous than Henry because even the best tacklers are more likely to blow. If Barkley really gets going in this game, the Giants will have a chance, especially since they are proven in close games and know how to win in the fourth quarter.
Week 15 – at Chicago bones (3-6), Sunday, December 18
Quarterback Justin Fields has shown signs of improvement, but has yet to throw for more than 200 yards in a game this season. What makes the Bears a potential trap game for the Eagles is that they are the No. 1 rushing team in the league. They are averaging 195.4 yards per game on the ground and an astounding 243 yards per game over the past four weeks. That includes 67 yards per game from Fields, who had 178 on Sunday against the Dolphins. It will be another big test for the Eagles’ tackling skills.
Week 16 – at Dallas Cowboys (6-2), Saturday, December 24
The Cowboys remain the biggest threat to the Eagles in the NFC East, if not the entire NFC. They have excellent pass rush and defense, a strong running game and theoretically enough weapons in the passing game to hang with anyone. Remember, they pushed the Eagles hard in mid-October in Philadelphia when backup Cooper Rush was still their quarterback. Dak Prescott is back now, and by Christmas Eve he’ll have had more than two months to get a dangerous offense back up to speed.
Week 17 – vs. New Orleans Saints (3-5), Sunday, January 1
It’s hard to know what to make of the Saints, who are below .500 despite having a top-10 offense and defense. They gave up 42 points to the Arizona Cardinals two weeks ago, then shut out the Las Vegas Raiders the next. They have incredible weapons like RB Alvin Kamara and TE Taysom Hill, but their quarterbacks, Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton, have combined for nine interceptions. They make too many mistakes to be a real threat for the Eagles, especially on the road.
Week 18: vs. New York Giants (6-2), Sunday, January 8
This game likely only matters to the Eagles if they’re still having a perfect season, and if Sirianni decides he cares about that. It’s much more likely to mean something for the Giants, who may have to fight their way into the playoffs unless they can maintain their second-half magic. If both play to win, Barkley will continue to be a problem for the Eagles. But for Philly, this could be an off day.
Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports, covering the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the previous six years covering the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and before that, 16 years covering the Giants and the NFL for the New York Daily News. Follow him on Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.
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