The Philadelphia Eagles are 10-1 for the first time since 2004, the last time the franchise went to the Super Bowl. After absolutely destroying the Chicago Bears 31-3, the Eagles have clinched at least a share of the NFC East title, while managing to stay ahead of the other NFC contenders in definitive fashion.
Put simply, the Eagles are good.
The Bears are not.
Sunday’s game was over well before halftime, when the Eagles were up 24-0 on the Bears, out-gaining Chicago 272 to 33 in total yards.
The Bears had zero first downs in the first half. Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky had 27 yards passing and an interception. Chicago had six rushing yards. SIX.
Chicago settled down a bit in the second half, but the game was all but over by then. The Bears ended the game with 147 passing yards and six on the ground, scoring just three points. Philly out-gained Chicago 420-140 on the day.
Meanwhile, the only thing the Eagles did wrong all day was turn the ball over three times, two while fighting for more yards. Malcolm Jenkins fumbled after a first-quarter interception and LeGarrette Blount fumbled trying to extend an early 35-yard run, before Blount fumbled again in the fourth quarter as the Eagles were trying to get him 100 yards rushing. The lesson: never fight for more yards.
None of the turnovers cost the Eagles on the scoreboard. Nothing they did bad all day seemed to cost the Eagles. By halftime, the Birds had passed the 20-point mark for the 11th time in as many games this season, so the second half was 30 minutes hoping nobody else got hurt. The fourth quarter was mostly reserved for back-ups.
And despite three fumbles in the game, it didn’t stop the Birds from winning easily. Heck, even when they did fumble in the second half they still managed to score.
Meanwhile, the Bears…
Okay, so there’s the thing…Yes, the Eagles are 10-1 and no one here is denying the shared belief they are the best team. There are other NFL teams still right on their heels with two or three losses, but as good as the Vikings and Saints and Rams and Seahawks and Patriots and Steelers may be, none of them are consistently crushing teams like the Eagles are. Home field advantage is in Philly’s grasp.
But — you knew a but was coming — all the Bears blowout did was further illustrate the fact that they’ve really only played two good teams, and have just one good win all season.
Washington is 5-6 after winning Thursday night over the now 2-9 New York Giants. Without the two losses to Philly, Washington would be 5-4 on the season, while the Giants would be 2-8 without their loss to Philly. Dallas started strong but without Tryon Smith and Ezekiel Elliott they are a total mess, and at 5-6, the Cowboys would be 5-5 without the loss to the Eagles.
Denver stinks, the 49ers are worse, the Chargers crushed Dallas Thursday, but they’re still under .500 and Arizona entered the week under .500 as well.
Other than Philly, there are 11 teams that came into Week 12 with winning records and the Eagles have played just two of them. They’re 1-1 in those games. Next week, the Birds travel to Seattle for a Sunday night game, then play at the Rams the week after.
So it’s not that the Eagles aren’t good. They’re very good. They’re the best team in football. It’s just that outside of a road win at Carolina on a short week, the Eagles haven’t beaten anyone good. They haven’t been tested since Week 6 and in 11 games they’ve only faced two that look like they’ll be part of the playoffs.
The good thing for the Eagles, of course, is that of the final five games of the season, the last three — at the Giants and home against Oakland and Dallas — are against teams they should also beat easily. So even if they lose the next two weeks, they’re looking at 13-3, which should be good enough for a first round bye in the playoffs and maybe, if things break right, home field in the NFC.
And, honestly, nobody in Philly will care if the Eagles don’t play another good team all the way to the Super Bowl. And challenged or not, the Birds look good enough to get there.