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Are the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles contenders?

Nov 26, 2013, 2:50 PM EDT

Chip Kelly, Riley Cooper, Nick Foles AP

Few people expected the Eagles to be in the thick of the playoff race heading into December, much less tied for first place in the NFC East. Chip Kelly’s inaugural season as head coach was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Instead, excitement mounts as Philadelphia makes its push for the postseason.

After the Birds failed to reach the past two tournaments, most fans understandably would be pleased by that much progress. Heck, a lot of folks are probably ecstatic the team is even in the hunt heading into the final month. Expectations are still relatively safe around here, as they probably should be, but at least football is fun again.

Win the division, maybe even advance as far as the second round, and that’s about as successful a season as anybody could have hoped for.

But if the Eagles can make the playoffs, perhaps even win a game in some eyes, why not more? That already puts them on the doorstep of the NFC Championship. One more W, and they’re only 60 minutes away from playing on the big stage. And if there’s even a remote chance they could make it that far, the thought has to begin creeping into your mind…

Is Philadelphia a darkhorse Super Bowl contender?

After talking to several Eagles fans during the bye week, I can tell a lot of you haven’t even entertained the thought. It may not have crossed your mind until now. Yet the Birds look like an increasingly formidable opponent, and prior to the break they were just beginning to fire on all cylinders, winners of three straight.

Chip’s offensive philosophies have opposing coaches on their heels. The quarterback is playing on a level that invokes names like Brady and Manning. The Birds’ defense has only allowed more than 21 points in a game twice this season. All things considered, the roster is in good health, and thanks to the sports science program, many of these guys are in the best shape of their life.

And the team is still improving. The Eagles are relying on major contributions from a ton of first- and second-year players, and they seem to be getting better every week. The youngsters round out a collection of solid veterans and Pro Bowlers that includes names such as LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jason Peters, Trent Cole and DeMeco Ryans.

Doesn’t it kind of seem like everything is coming together at exactly the right time for this franchise to make some noise come January? How many times have we seen the hot team run the table at the end of the year?

Nobody is implying that’s definitely or likely or probably what’s going to happen here. The Eagles still have yet to defeat an opponent with a winning record this season. At some point, Nick Foles is going to come down to earth a little, or at least make a mistake or two. The defense hasn’t been challenged by many great quarterbacks this season.

The one great opponent Philly has faced this year—the Denver Broncos led by Peyton Manning—took this group apart 52-20. The Eagles didn’t appear as though they belonged in the same league, let alone on the same field.

Yet that seems like it was eons ago. Are the Eagles the same as they were back in September?

They also don’t have to worry about seeing Peyton again unless they go on this improbable run, although the schedule does intensify from here. Four of the Birds’ remaining five opponents currently own winning records, and obviously any team they encounter in the playoffs would as well.

There are quality teams in the NFC for sure, but does anybody look unbeatable? Maybe New Orleans Saints’ QB Drew Brees would carve up Philly’s secondary like a Thanksgiving turkey, or the Seattle Seahawks’ suffocating defense would have the answer to Kelly’s wizardry.

We won’t know anything unless and until the Eagles make it that far, either. There’s a very good chance they don’t make it into the playoffs, so you can see why it might be difficult to take them seriously as a contender.

Then again, if the Eagles come out of the bye week guns blazing and their momentum continues building into December, they’re going to be the opponent nobody wants to see come January. And as we tend to see once the playoffs are underway and every week is do or die, it’s not always the so-called “best” team that wins—it’s the team that’s playing the best at the time.

  1. Joe Kazmierski - Nov 26, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    Shhh … some of us are thinking the same thing.

    Reply
  2. Joe Jackson - Nov 26, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    Pump the breaks. The only way they will make the playoffs is to win the division. They won’t be able to beat the Saints or the Seahawks

    Reply
    • Chris - Nov 27, 2013 at 10:34 AM

      And the Giants would never beat the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl, the Rams (greatest show on turf) could never lose to the Patriots with some dude playing QB named Tom Brady who is nothing more than a backup QB. I could go on and on all day about teams getting beat by other teams that couldn’t possible beat them yet it happens every week in the NFL. This isn’t the NBA, NHL, MLB in the NFL its a single game playoff and anyone CAN win. Could the Eagles beat the Seahawks or Saints in a 7 game series? More than likely no. Could the Eagles beat either team on any given Sunday? You bet your a$$ they can.

      Reply
      • Jd3 - Dec 11, 2013 at 9:20 AM

        Good point, Unlikely yes, but impossible no

  3. Chutley - Nov 26, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    Focus on getting another draft class like this year’s and we will be talking contender this time next year. 4 starters goes a long way in the Salary Cap NFL.

    Reply
  4. jared - Nov 26, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    Talking about a championship is such a joke. How about, can we beat a winning team first? Then we can talk about whether they are worthy of the playoffs, then we can talk about whether they are worthy of a championship.

    Here’s who we’ve beat
    Washington: 3-8
    Raiders: 4-7
    Packers: 5-5-1 (0-3-1 without Rodgers)
    Bucs: 3-8
    Giants 4-7

    We also lost 2 out of our 5 loses were against losing teams.
    Giants & San Diego

    None of this says championship yet, let alone playoffs.

    Reply
    • Adam B - Nov 26, 2013 at 5:24 PM

      Agreed. Let’s revisit playoff talk after these games against Arizona and Detroit.

      Reply
      • Alex s - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:51 AM

        Are we ready to talk playoffs now that were 2-0 against cardinals and lions?

    • Show - Nov 26, 2013 at 11:57 PM

      I guess the chiefs who by the way just lost to the same chargers in the same kind of game aren’t contenders either, the bucs also beat the lions who are very much in contention, raiders were a top 10 defense when the eagles anialated them in Oakland, I mean when Philly humiliates Arizona this weekend who are 7-4 then we’ll have to rethink this entire statement… but for now I agree!

      Reply
    • thom - Nov 27, 2013 at 12:42 AM

      giants are contenders, so are the packers. the nfc east is in such poor condition that anyone could still take the division.

      Reply
  5. Dave T. - Nov 26, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    It most certainly been fun to watch but I feel the need to remind people of something. I am not saying the Eagles are a playoff team yet however lets think back. They started the season with a rookie coach, team, and switched to an entirely new system. In addition, don’t forget they were blasted into territory that schedule makers should be fired from they’re jobs. They took a rebuilding team and started them on Monday night, then another on Sunday, and finally 3 days off and killed them with one more on Thursday night. What the hell was that all about. No NFL team no matter how good or bad should ever have a schedule like that. Good job Chip. This team is doing just fine. Keep getting stronger everybody.

    Reply
    • Hiccup - Nov 27, 2013 at 11:14 AM

      Agreed, but consider it a strenuous boot camp with good results.

      Reply
  6. jEREMY - Nov 26, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA! NOT!

    Reply
  7. JEREMY - Nov 26, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    COWBOYS ARE SWEEPING THIS DIVISION! THEY HAVNT EVEN BEAT A WINNING TEAM AND YOURE TALKING ABOUT SUPER BOWL? RIDICULOUS! YOU KNOW ITS RIDICULOUS WHEN EAGLE FANS ARE EVEN SAYING SO

    Reply
    • willh888 - Nov 26, 2013 at 6:20 PM

      c’man slappy, bbq sauce coating your capslock button again?

      Reply
    • Dave T. - Nov 26, 2013 at 6:32 PM

      Philly dominated from 2000-2011. Now rebuilding. Have fun thinking Romo will take u to the promise land. He will crumble under pressure as usual.

      Reply
    • Hiccup - Nov 27, 2013 at 11:23 AM

      Quit yelling, you’ll wake you baby face.

      Reply
  8. willh888 - Nov 26, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    being an eagles fan is almost like being catholic, we think we need to promote suffering to prove our loyalty.. like always reminding ourselves it’s not cool to celebrate an improving team. Winning record is kinda fun heading into December, sooo maybe focus some anger on hating opposing teams again, like this cowboys knob goblin above ^

    Reply
  9. reasonablemindsays - Nov 26, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    It’s hard to gain perspective of how good this team is with Foles as the starter.

    We’ve done well. 4-1. But all our wins came against back-up or borderline back-up QB’s.

    With that said, there are signs that our team is a contender. We’ve demolished the teams that we should beat, which is what great teams do. Our defense has looked good in all games, even against the Cowboys who have a legitimate QB. In the Redskins game, the poor defensive showing in the 4th quarter you can attribute to Patrick Chung and Roc Carmichael, two backups who let up big plays that shouldn’t have happened.

    Emerging from the bye, we have to be one of the healthiest teams in the league. Only Wolff is hurt. Everyone else is healthy.

    Teams that do well in December and in the playoffs typically have a hot QB and are healthy. Foles’ play is similar to Kaepernick’s last year. He was a second year player who was on fire for the second half of the season, which got his team all the way to the Superbowl. So yes, hot young QB’s can lead your team to the Superbowl. It’s been done before.

    Also, there is a big misconception that our remaining schedule is tough. It isn’t and here’s why:

    1. The Cardinals are a great home, but an average away team. Their offense is not that great on the road, and will be even worse in the cold weather.

    2. The Lions are not playing well right now. Barely beating the Josh McCown led Bears, then losing to the Steelers and then the Bucs at home. Another dome team that will have a difficult time adjusting to a cold weather outdoor game.

    3. The Vikings game on the road will be our toughest game at this point. Which is saying something because their record is terrible. But at home when Ponder is healthy, this team is still tough.

    4. The Bears are another team that benefits tremendously from their home field advantage, but is an average road team. Even if Cutler makes it back for this game, I seriously doubt he will be playing at a high level.

    5. The Cowboys game is by far the toughest game on here. They’ll have Sean Lee back for sure at this point. Division games are just tough because you have to play each team twice. The Cowboys already having experience against Foles will help them tremendously here.

    Looking at the remaining schedule, a record of 3-2 or 4-1 is what looks the most likely. That leaves us with a record of 9-7 or 10-6. The game against the Cowboys will determine whether or not we make the playoffs. The wildcard will be out of the picture as I see San Fran playing well down the stretch.

    If we make the playoffs, that would mean that we are 7-3 or 8-2 with Foles as our starter. We would be one of the hottest teams. We would have home field advantage for the first game, which would likely be against the Panthers. A team, like us, with a young QB. Then we would play the Saints, in New Orleans. Obviously by far the toughest game of the season. But we’ve yet to see this team play in a dome so maybe we could surprise them. Then we play the Seahawks in Seattle, obviously another ridiculously tough place to play. They’re also a team that’s starting to pile up injuries and suspensions so perhaps their defense won’t be as elite by the time we play them and we get lucky and win. Then there’s the Superbowl. That would put us against the Denver Broncos. A team that destroyed us earlier in the year. A team led by Peyton Manning, the best QB in the league who wants to prove that he can win a 2nd Superbowl. However, the Superbowl is being played in New York, which will be freezing in February. We saw a few days ago that Manning, especially now as an older player, can’t throw it well in cold, windy conditions. So then maybe the Eagles are able to get revenge and beat the Broncos, with Foles emerging as game MVP.

    So for the Eagles to win the Superbowl this year, that’s what you would have to imagine happening.

    Reply
    • Christopher Christmas - Nov 27, 2013 at 7:10 AM

      The superbowl is actually in JERSEY

      Reply
    • Frankie51 - Nov 27, 2013 at 7:18 AM

      Nice! Guess it’s nice to dream.. Been a Eagles fan for 40 yrs now, would love to see them get to the superbowl and win. Long shot here but we will learn more after this Sunday.. go Birds.. Cowboys need to loose a game or two.

      Reply
  10. Luke - Nov 26, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    “The Birds’ defense has only allowed more than 21 points in a game twice the season.”
    Washington week 1, 27
    San Diego, 33
    Kansas City, 26
    Denver, 52
    And that’s just what comes to mind.

    Reply
    • reasonablemindsays - Nov 26, 2013 at 7:28 PM

      First Redskins game, one of their TD’s was that crazy fumble play when Vick through that screen to McCoy.

      The Chiefs game also had at least one defensive TD by the Chiefs.

      Reply
      • Andrew Kulp - Nov 26, 2013 at 8:20 PM

        This. The defense didn’t allow 21 points in either of those games.

    • willh888 - Nov 26, 2013 at 9:14 PM

      Luke, im not your father, but if you gotta know the defense is 5x better than they were 2 months ago. Finally Nate Allen isn’t allergic to opponents and it makes me happy. Front 4 (3?) are actually disrupting up front.

      Reply
    • Dan - Dec 1, 2013 at 9:04 PM

      Furthermore, those were the first 4 games of the season. In the last 8, they have not allowed more than 21 in a game at all.

      Reply
  11. Joe DeCarlo - Nov 27, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    At least we will have a meaningful Dec. that we haven’t had in a few years.

    Reply
  12. Ralph - Nov 27, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    Are the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles contenders? No. Debate over.

    Reply
    • willh888 - Nov 27, 2013 at 2:05 PM

      haha, you’re named after the act of vomiting

      Reply
  13. clifftanton - Nov 27, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    they still have to beat Dallas at home and like the cowboys i am not sure they can beat either New Orleans or Seattle but we”ll see. go Cowboys!

    Reply
  14. MoSki - Nov 27, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    Why is this idiot trying to jinx my team again? We already had one idiot call the Eagles the “Dream Team” a couple of years ago. Look what happened. Win the division and gain some momentum first and then we’ll talk…

    Reply
  15. Davey u - Dec 5, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    Wait the storms a brewing when they unleash Vick with foles ertz McCoy and Jackson you’ll never see a more compatible wild cat scheme till they unleash that kitten. All kidding aside(even if that comes to be) they have a soft spot in the secondary with Chung they need Wolfe to get better special teams could use a pick me up punting has been great so far to help the team get out of trouble but the catch phrase continues they need to stay consistent Kelly n co. needs to keep improving and by the way Kelly needs to buy a shovel. Just buriey ur opponents for the dead and forsaken are not always that

    Reply
  16. robert dolbow - Dec 9, 2013 at 8:18 AM

    we beat the cards , fitz was handled, we just beat lions in the snow bowl,megatron was handled . we can beat u with the passing game,we can beat u with the running game. our defense has improved tremendously and been holding opponents under 21. they stuff the run ,and 2 of the leagues best recievers held in check. I PUT OUR EAGLES AGAINST ANY TEAM IN THE NFL RIGHT NOW AND LIKE OUR CHANCES. call us a dark horse but we are LEGIT super bowl contenders!!!!!!!!!!!!!! E A G L: E S !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  17. ron juke - Dec 10, 2013 at 12:12 AM

    other elite teams scorched those teams to and those losses were because the defense was still getting used to the 34 formation but look now all improved if the defense was like this earlier we would have a 10-3 or a 11-2 record

    Reply

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