Each week Patrick and Dave discuss the week that was and will be. It's Two Guys Internetting Football!
Dave: I would ask you how your week was, but I already know the answer: it's been great, because the Eagles beat the Cowboys. It's not a game we'll be comparing others to, but we will remember Jordan Matthew's touchdown, and that it pulled the plug on the Cowboys' season, so it's got some shelf life in the rivalry lore. And it positions the Eagles to *ominous voice* control their destiny.
But what is this team's destiny (which doesn't exist but whatever)? Because for the first seven games they were maddeningly inconsistent. I joked about it earlier in the week but it's true, on Sunday they played their most complete game and it wasn't enough in regulation. I'm always willing to make some exceptions for divisional games, because familiarity can have a significant effect, so I'm not mad on line about going to OT. But on the other hand, teams almost always get a bump off the bye. So right now this feels to me like it's just a one-off good game against a bad team after some rest. Or am I being too pessimistic?
Patrick: Yeah, you are.
This Eagles team is not the Patriots. It's not the Packers. Somehow, it's not even the Bengals. And that's okay! When they win this season, it'll be because the defense keeps them in games and the offense gets out of its own way enough to score some points. Bradford probably should have done a little more (no touchdowns in regulation is concerning, I don't care how well he played otherwise), but the run game looked great behind the most patchwork line we've seen all season. That's really encouraging.
I don't think last Sunday was a one-off win. I think it may be closer to a best-case scenario for this season, but this team is certainly capable of picking on some bad teams, gaining some confidence and improving down the stretch. On the other hand, I think we should all take a deep breath and sadly acknowledge that this team is probably just going to be inconsistent the rest of the year. I would expect performances like Sunday night to be the new normal in 2015, but I'm also expecting at least one of the upcoming three games to be closer than it should be. And that game's probably this Sunday against the Dolphins.
Miami is a perfectly fine team that, at this point, is more dangerous than a defeated squad like Detroit or maybe even Tennessee. The Dolphins have enough talent to pounce on an unprepared team, and that should make the Eagles focus this week. There's virtually no margin for error anymore, and they need to win all three of their upcoming games (against Miami, Tampa Bay and Detroit). They pretty much have to go 3-0 in November before going up against the Patriots, Bills and Cardinals--plus two more division games--right?
Dave: That's a better way of putting it, that this was close to a best case scenario win. And yes there is little margin for error here. The way things should shape up, the second Giants game could be another Week 17 NFC East Division Championship Game. Each team has two tough opponents and the rest are beatable teams.... and neither team is going to win all of those winnable games. 8-8 could win the division, and it's not even the worst division, that would be the AFC South. I think winning the next three is too much to ask from this team, but going 2-1 isn't. But first, Miami, who are awful. None of their wins were impressive or against even mediocre teams. They got outplayed by Washington, who stink. Beating Tennessee, that's not impressive. In their win against the Texans, people who watched the game said that Houston looked like they flat out quit.
That said, you're right, the Dolphins are just talented enough that they could surprise a team that overlooks them. (TRAP GAME ALERT!) Their defense is really bad, but if Suh decides to show up and play, he would be a really bad matchup on the Eagles OL, though I thought they played really well all things considered against the Cowboys. On offense they could put up a fight. I really like Jarvis Landry, loved him in @college, though the Eagles pass defense has been really underrated this season. Under Dan Campbell the Dolphins are finally running the ball, and reportedly Jay Ajayi will get more playing time, he's only touched the ball 5 times this season (so just getting the ball at all would constitute more playing time), so there is nothing to go off of to prep for what he brings to the Dolphins that Miller doesn't. With that newfound commitment to the running game, Tannehill has played better too. I could see this being a 28-24 or 31-27 game (preferably with some Lamar Miller scores for my fantasy team... but also some Tannehill turnovers and sacks for my fantasy team.... man, I hate fantasy football).
And you know what, I'm fine with that. I'll take winning ugly, we've had enough losing ugly. I'll take winning close, we've also had enough losing close. Just win baby. First place is there for the taking. Earlier in the season we were complaining about this that and the other. Now we're going to be really disappointed if they miss the playoffs. What a time to be alive.
Patrick: Never let it be said that the Eagles are boring. Win or lose, there's always something.
The Dolphins are really the poster children for "kind of okay". They don't do anything exceptionally well, even if they do have a few good pieces, as you mentioned. This game is more about the Eagles winning than "not losing". I keep hearing how they're a good team; they need to put together a complete game. Miami has given up 16 passing touchdowns to only six interceptions, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Jordan Matthews continue building off his momentum from last week. And right now, this offense could really use a reliable weapon at receiver. From here on out, the Eagles will need to prove that they're capable of winning games, rather than hoping the other team blows it. That's fine while you're establishing an identity, but this team was billed as a contender early, and I'd like to see them get a little bit of that moxie back Sunday afternoon against an inferior opponent.
Dave: I too think Matthews will have a good game. They've got small corners, so this is a matchup that Chip Kelly has got to be looking forward to. So I figure Matthews will feature heavily in the game plan, which could mean a decline in the amount of two tight end sets we see.
The Eagles should win, and with it take control of the NFC East. The Cowboys are dead. The Redskins are on life support. The Giants are the villian in a slasher film, they show up when you think they're dead. They play the Patriots this week and then they're on their bye. The Eagles need to win at least two of the their next three to put some distance between them until the next scene.