Playoff matchups, the Eagles should be wary

Sometimes playing well means having the biggest goal behind you.

Sometimes playing well means having the biggest goal behind you. Image: Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles have dominated the NFC for the first three months of the season en route to a 10-1 start as league-best. Alongside the game against Washington a few weeks ago, Philly found a way to walk away with a win every time. They’ve already beaten two of the top three teams chasing them in the conference.

Sure, the Eagles are good, and getting 10 wins ahead of any other team is something to celebrate, but there’s something about Philly that shouldn’t be trusted. Well, that could be many things, but on the field, these Eagles are reminiscent of the Pittsburgh Steelers of 2020. Those Steelers also got off to a great start, winning their first 11 games before losing three of their last four games of the season. They were also eliminated in the divisional round of the playoffs by the Cleveland Browns of all people.

This Eagles roster feels like it’s headed for an early disappointment in the postseason. But it all depends on matchups, and there aren’t many teams in the NFC right now that are a good fit with Philadelphia. Schedule strength aside, the Eagles have shown in 12 weeks of the season that they are competitors, but that doesn’t mean they will win everything. Teams that can run the ball effectively to eat the clock, play tight defense, or have a top-10 quarterback are best placed to knock these birds off their seat. In the NFC, very few teams possess enough of these attributes to seriously challenge the Eagles.

Dallas Cowboys

Philly completed the first meeting with the Cowboys this season without Dak Prescott. Division rivals play again on Christmas Eve in Dallas and depending on how the next four weeks play out, it could go a long way in deciding the division. With Prescott on the field, Dallas has what it takes to keep up with the Eagles. They have a playful QB like the Eagles, they can run the ball if they put their mind to it, and the Cowboys’ defense is pretty good at getting the QB.

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One area that will be most important for the Cowboys against the Eagles is stopping the run. Philly is fourth in the league while Dallas ranks in the bottom third against the run. But as we’ve seen this year, they’re at their best when Dallas decides to play ball control. But of course it’s the cowboys. Expecting them to come through, especially in the playoffs, is like expecting Daniel Snyder to do the right thing in Washington.

San Francisco 49ers

I said it a month ago and I will stand by it for the rest of the season. The 49ers have the formula of being the most dangerous team in the NFC and the best chance of beating the Eagles in the playoffs. Since losing to the Chiefs last month, the Niners have had four wins and held their opponents to 14, 16, 10 and 0 points, respectively. This defense allows for the fewest points in the NFL at 15.7 per game. You are #1 in yards allowed and rush yards.

On the other side of the ball, San Francisco has an explosive offense with lots of guns to counter those in Philly. And unlike the Cowboys coaching staff, Kyle Shanahan will run the ball as far as it takes to get the job done. All the Niners have to keep doing is limit Jimmy Garoppolo’s potential for error. If the 49ers can continue down that path, they’ll be back in the NFC championship game, possibly against Philly. When it comes to that, take the Niners.

Minnesota Vikings?

OK, I know what you mean. The Eagles overcame the Vikings in Week 2, 24-7 behind 333 yards from Jalen Hurts. But that was week 2, and Minnesota is a different team now. After that loss to Philly, Minnesota went on a seven-game winning streak in which they defeated the Dolphins and Bills away from home.

When the Vikings face the eagles again, they will be battle hardened. The Vikings aren’t statistically at the top of the league, but they’ve found ways to play winning football. After seeing the Eagles once and (hopefully) learning from their mistakes, Kevin O’Connell’s staff will likely come up with a much better game plan the second time around.

What matters to Minnesota is that Kirk Cousins ​​doesn’t make big mistakes. He threw three interceptions in the Week 2 loss to Philadelphia. The Eagles are fighting back on the run, so a high dose early and often is key. Let the game in progress set up some downfield attempts for Justin Jefferson’s cousins. But you can’t force anything. The Vikings would have to drop out before the Eagles because it’s too hard to hunt them down when you’re more than seven behind.