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Seven takeaways from NFL Week 7

Some musings from a stress free Sunday.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Las Vegas Raiders Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles had a chance to relax this weekend since they already defeated the New York Giants on Thursday night. But even though the Birds didn’t play, they were still impacted by happenings elsewhere in the league. Here’s an Eagles slant to some NFL Week 7 takeaways.

1 - The Eagles are still first in the NFC East.

The Eagles would’ve dropped to second had Dallas won. Alas, they did not. Updated standings:

1) Philadelphia Eagles: 2-4-1
2) Washington Football Team: 2-5
3) Dallas Cowboys: 2-5
4) New York Giants: 1-6

For perspective, here’s how the Eagles would finish as a fifth team in every other division:

AFC West: 3rd
AFC South: 3rd
NFC South: 4th
NFC North: 4th
AFC East: 4th
AFC North: 4th
NFC West: 5th

The Eagles are far from rightfully being considered a good football team. They still own the NFL’s eighth worst differential. They entered Week 7 ranked 31st in DVOA before beating the 30th ranked team by only one point.

And yet ... Philly is rightfully favored to win the NFC East. Football Outsiders has their playoff chances at 50.7%. That’s an 14.8% upgrade from last week. Washington is second at 24.5%, Dallas is third at 16.4%, and New York is on life support at 8.8%.

2 - Dallas sucks. No, really, they’re awful!

After getting blown out by Washington, the Cowboys rank 31st in point differential. Dallas is only ahead of the 0-7 New York Jets in that category.

The Cowboys’ defense is a disaster. Dallas is allowing an NFL-worst 34.7 points per game.

The Cowboys’ offense has managed just 19 points on 24 drives since Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury.

Their offense might even be in worse shape now with Andy Dalton suffering a concussion on a dirty hit by Washington. Dalton must be independently cleared before being able to return to the field. He seems bound to at least miss some practice time this week, if not the Cowboys’ Week 8 game against the Eagles. D

Dallas might have to start 2020 seventh-round pick out James Madison “Ben DiNucci” at quarterback. DiNucci looked pretty small out there at just 6’2”, 209 pounds. He could be in line to take a beating with the Eagles’ defensive line primed to thrive against the Cowboys’ porous blocking unit.

It just doesn’t look like this Cowboys team has any fight in them. Maybe that’ll change in Philly but one shouldn’t simply count on it. Mike McCarthy clearly doesn’t have great command over his team. At this rate, it’s looking like he could go one-and-done despite signing a five-year contract worth $30 million.

If you’re reading this, though, Jerry Jones ... please don’t fire McCarthy. That would be unfair. He’s been without Dak and he had to deal with a shortened offseason program. Just gotta give him some more time!

(Tease: I have a special treat for BGN if the Eagles beat the Cowboys in Week 8.)

3 - The Football Team is the biggest threat to the Eagles winning the division.

Funny thing to type considering how Washington was the worst team in the NFL’s worst team heading into Week 7. But here we are.

The Football Team is far from fearsome. But their defensive line anchors a defense that ranked seventh in DVOA heading into Week 7. Washington is allowing the fifth fewest yards per play and the 12th fewest points per game.

A good defense combined with potential competency from Kyle Allen at quarterback gives Washington the chance to beat some bad teams. They might actually be able to pick up two or three wins in their next four games:

Week 8 - BYE
Week 9 - vs. Giants (1-6)
Week 10 - at Lions (3-3)
Week 11 - vs. Bengals (1-5-1)
Week 12 - at Cowboys (2-5)

Washington’s schedule gets tougher after that. Still, they might be in position to be playing for the NFC East title against the Eagles in Week 17.

Or I’m making too much of them beating an awful Dallas team and they’ll revert back to being awful themselves.

4 - The 49ers win and the Steelers loss are aging well?

The Eagles getting Nick Mullens instead of Jimmy Garoppolo unquestionably helped Philly beat San Fran in Week 4. With the 49ers looking good the past two weeks, though, it’s not like they’re a total joke of a team.

What was an actual loss but felt like a moral victory against the Steelers is also holding up. Pittsburgh is now the NFL’s only undefeated team and they’ve allowed just 17.8 points per game to non-Eagles opponents. Philly’s 29 points scored is the highest total allowed by the Steelers’ defense this year.

An Eagles optimist can look at these results and use them to justify keeping hope alive for the current season.

5 - Let’s calm down about Nelson Agholor.

I’ve seen some ire about Agholor having “success” with the Las Vegas Raiders this season. Clearly the Eagles should’ve kept him!

Stop it.

Sure, Philly’s 2015 first-round pick is having a quality season so far. He’s caught 15 of his 20 targets for 292 yards (19.5 average) and four touchdowns.

One must consider that some players benefit from a change of scenery, though. Agholor is also aided by not being the option in the Raiders’ passing game. He clearly struggled to handle that role with the Eagles. Allow me to jog your memory:

Pro Football Focus

2019: 124th out of 124

2018: 74th out of 108

2017: 35th out of 107

2016: 103rd out of 104

2015: 101st out of 101

Football Outsiders

2019: 66th out of 66

2018: 78th out of 84

2017: 32nd out of 86

2016: 88th out of 94

2015: 83rd out of 88

You can’t blame the Eagles’ front office for not re-signing a guy who played like the worst wide receiver in the NFL last year. And I’m hardly one to give Howie Roseman a pass. It’s not like Agholor was even some hot commodity with him only signing a one-year contract worth about $1 million.

It was clearly time to move on. Like, the same level of clarity that it was time to move on from Andy Reid in 2012.

Agholor was undoubtedly a big contributor to the Eagles winning Super Bowl LII. In that vein, it’s nice to see him doing well for himself. But let’s not act like there were more ups than downs in Philly.

...

Related topic but different player: There sure was a lot of “should of kept!” (sic) going on with Sidney Jones after he had a pick a couple weeks ago. Strangely haven’t heard his name going around as much with him struggling in Week 6 and then getting hurt again in Week 7.

6 - The Eagles were right to pass on DK Metcalf.

JJ Arcega-Whiteside would’ve forced a fumble AND returned it for a touchdown on this chase down instead of merely getting the tackle.

OK, I’m sorry.

7 - Some quick thoughts on upcoming opponents

The Eagles’ remaining schedule:

  • The Cowboys stink. The Eagles don’t have a good excuse to not sweep them.
  • The Browns have been looking shaky. Escaped with a win over Cincy. Could be a winnable game for Philly.
  • The Seahawks’ defense is very vulnerable. But the Eagles probably aren’t going to be able to stop Russell Wilson. Going to have to beat him in a shootout. Not feeling great about it.
  • The Eagles aren’t going to Lambeau Field and leaving with a win two years in a row. Aaron Rodgers is cooking.
  • The Saints aren’t super impressive. They’ve had the Eagles’ number in the past and will probably win. But could see a scenario where New Orleans falters.
  • The Cardinals have been uneven but they’re not a team to sleep on. Came into the season thinking that would be a loss and still do.

Still thinking the Eagles finish with a 6-9-1 or 7-8-1 record. And that’s with a relatively optimistic outlook. Considering they almost just lost to the Giants, things could go worse for them.

BONUS: Can Nick Foles keep the Bears first in the NFC?

The Eagles’ Super Bowl MVP will be looking to lead Chicago to 6-1 with a win over the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football. Don’t think the Bears are actually good enough to hold that spot and think they’ll instead end up as a wild card team. The Wentz vs. Foles battle at the Linc in January feels destined to happen.