One of the common refrains following Philadelphia's brutal loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday seemed to echo the sentiment in the title of this post: that the Eagles can't beat a good team. It's easy to see why some people feel this way. Three of the Eagles' losses this season have come on the road to teams with winning records: the San Francisco 49ers, the Arizona Cardinals, and now the Green Bay Packers.
But is really true? Are the Eagles incapable of beating good teams? Let's take a closer look.
Let's start by looking at this season alone. Despite Philadelphia's losses to the 49ers, Cardinals, and Packers, Philadelphia did beat the Indianapolis Colts on the road in Week 2. It was the first time that Andrew Luck had ever lost back to back games... dating back to his freshman year at Stanford in 2009. One could try to say the Eagles didn't "deserve" to win that game due to a debatable non-call on Brandon Boykin, but what's done is done.
Now, a comparison to all 32 NFL teams. There are only nine squads with a worse strength of victory than Philadelphia (.367). Strength of victory is figured by calculating the combined winning percentage of the opponents a team has beaten. The teams worse than the Eagles include: 0-10 Oakland Raiders (.000), 5-5 Houston Texans (.256), 4-6 Atlanta Falcons (.267), 6-4 San Diego Chargers (.280), 2-8 New York Jets (.300), 4-6 Minnesota Vikings (.325), 3-7 Washington Redskins (.345), 6-4 Cleveland Browns (.347), and the 7-3 Dallas Cowboys (.362). By this metric, the quality of teams that the Eagles have beaten has been below average.
Another common refrain is that the Eagles haven't been able to beat good teams dating back to last year, which was Chip Kelly's first season as the team's head coach. Dating back to 2013, Philadelphia has since played a total of nine games against teams that finished with (or still currently have) winning records. The Eagles are 3-6 in those match-ups. Two of those losses were straight up blowouts: the Green Bay game from this year and the Denver game from last season. Three losses were decided by five points or less: the 49ers and Cardinals games from this year along with the Chargers game from 2013. One of those losses was by 10 points to the Chiefs. Six of these games were on the road, and the Eagles were 2-4 in those games. The Eagles are 1-2 at home in this category.
So, only three wins in two seasons against winning teams. How bad is that? Not very, actually. Three out of nine is good for a .333 win-loss percentage. That's a figure which ranks tied for 15th in the league since the beginning of 2013.
They have only looked completely out-classed twice and both of those games were on the road against really good quarterbacks: Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers. If you take those games out, which is fair to an extent because every team has bad losses eventually, their point differential against winning teams is 168-170. That's far from terrible. It's just average.
And therein lies the conclusion from this study: the Eagles are not good at beating winning teams, but they are not bad either. They have been average to this point. This suggests that, yes, they are capable of doing it... just at an average rate instead of a good one.
Moving forward, it goes without saying that they'll need to find a way to be better. Philadelphia won't last in the post-season very long if their success against winning teams is merely average.