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History is not kind to the Eagles’ playoff hopes

What the past says about the future...

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

At 3-4 the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles now stand upon the brink of a precipice. As they look into the abyss, they see a history that is not so kind to their future prospects. Not many teams with this same sub-.500 start have been able to pull themselves back from the edge.

In the modern era of the NFL (1990-2017) a 3-4 start shows a long history of despair. In total, 183 teams have started the season with that same record. The average finish of those teams is 7-9. Here’s how the numbers break down in regard to playoff hopes:

  • 98 teams finished sub-.500% (54%)
  • 32 teams made the playoffs (17.5%)
  • 14 teams won their division (8%)

Of those 32 teams that made the playoffs, success is hard to find:

  • 19 teams were one-and-done in the playoffs (60%)
  • 5 teams made it past the divisional round (16%)
  • 2 teams made the Super Bowl (6%)
  • 1 team won the Super Bowl (3%)

The lone team to turn a 3-4 start into a ring were the 2001 New England Patriots. After the poor opening to their season, they won 8 of their last 9 games. This is also the year of the infamous “Tuck Rule” that pushed them past the Oakland Raiders in overtime.

The Eagles are no stranger to this predicament. In 2013 the Chip Kelly era got off to a slow start, dropping three consecutive games early. They rallied, winning 7 of their last 8 games in the second half of the season to clinch a wild card berth, only to lose 26-24 against the New Orleans Saints.

Simple math will tell you the obvious; the 2018 Eagles need a big run while also needing the rest of the NFC East to falter. The second part is key with five divisional games remaining. Those games will likely determine the Eagles fate.

Before that, the Eagles will have to take care of business against the 3-4 Jacksonville Jaguars in London. If they lose, their playoff odds reduce to 8%, while a win would spike them to 32%. Again, simple math: that’s a massive 24% swing.

The bottom line is the time for touting moral victories from close losses is over. Being one or two plays away isn’t good enough. The Eagles need to prove they can finish in big moments or they will be on the outside looking in come January.

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