The most successful Sunday of the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2020 season thus far was the one where they didn’t even play a game.
That much says a lot about where things stand but ... it really was an enjoyable Eagles bye week. The team didn’t offer reason to be disappointed in them! And they saw their division lead only get stronger!
A look at the updated NFC East standings:
Let’s take stock of each team heading into Week 9.
1) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
The Eagles’ offense looked horrible heading into the bye with Carson Wentz playing like one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL. One would think he’ll eventually be better ... right? Like, he can’t continue to be this bad?
We’ll see. The good news is that Wentz’s supporting cast is getting healthier. Jalen Reagor and Dallas Goedert returned right before the bye and will be hopefully be healthier after it. Miles Sanders is reportedly expected to return to practice this week. Alshon Jeffery might even play soon, though we’ll need to see that actually happen to fully believe it at this point.
It’s not easy to expect the Eagles to suddenly start looking like a legitimately good team. But with a 1.5 game lead in this awful division with eight to play, they should at least be able to clinch the NFC East. If they don’t, that’s a serious problem.
The Eagles have a big opportunity to advance to 4-4-1 with a win over the Giants this week.
2) WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
Kyle Allen is out for the season after suffering a scary-looking ankle injury that prompted flashbacks to Dak Prescott getting hurt. The Football Team is moving forward with Alex Smith as their starting quarterback and Dwayne Haskins as the backup.
On the bright side, Smith completed 75% of his attempts for 325 yards (10.2 average!) and a touchdown! It’ll never not be impressive how he’s back on the field after almost losing his leg.
On the dark side, Darth Vader. And Smith threw three interceptions to finish with a 78.3 passer rating.
Washington clearly stinks but I wouldn’t write their chances of winning the division off just yet. Their defense is legitimately good; only allowing 23 points after five offensive turnovers is solid. Prior to his major injury, Smith made a career of limiting turnovers and being a game manager. If he can get back to that, Washington might be able to beat some of the other bad teams on their remaining schedule.
3) DALLAS COWBOYS
The Cowboys played better than anyone would’ve reasonably expected against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They held a lead until late in the fourth quarter and even had a chance to win the game on the final play.
Garrett Gilbert was clearly more competent than Ben DiNucci, who’s simply looked overmatched. Do the Eagles definitely still beat Dallas if the former was starting last week?
While improved quarterback play helped, the Cowboys’ defense also hasn’t been as big of a dumpster fire over the past couple weeks. Maybe they’re finally figuring some things out on that end?
More losses are on the way for the Cowboys, who are still plenty flawed. But perhaps they won’t be as easily beatable as previously thought.
Next up for Dallas is their bye week. They’ll return in Week 11 for a road game against the Minnesota Vikings, who have won two in a row.
4) NEW YORK GIANTS
Last in the standings and yet potentially the Eagles’ biggest threat to win the division.
It’s not like their win over Washington — the only team they’ve beaten this year — was super impressive. They only managed to score 23 points despite notching five takeaways.
But Joe Judge has his team playing tough. A look at the Giants last four games:
Week 6 — One-point win over Washington
Week 7 — One-point loss to the Eagles
Week 8 — Two-point loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 9 — Three-point win over Washington
If Evan Engram doesn’t drop a third down pass in Philly, they very likely beat the Eagles. The Giants were also a failed two-point conversion away from taking Tampa to overtime.
Point being: the Giants aren’t just going to roll over. They’re going to be pretty hungry for a win as they host the Eagles in Week 9.
WHO’S GOING TO WIN?
Let’s compare the schedules.
2020 NFC East Remaining Schedules
|at Giants||BYE||vs. Eagles||at Lions|
|at Browns||at Vikings||BYE||vs. Bengals|
|vs. Seahawks||vs. Football Team||at Bengals||at Cowboys|
|at Packers||at Ravens||at Seahawks||at Steelers|
|vs. Saints||at Bengals||vs. Cardinals||vs. 49ers|
|at Cardinals||vs. 49ers||vs. Browns||at Seahawks|
|at Cowboys||vs. Eagles||at Ravens||vs. Panthers|
|vs. Football Team||at Giants||vs. Cowboys||at Eagles|
I think the final standings will look something like this:
Eagles projected record: 6-9-1
Giants projected record: 5-11
Football Team projected record: 5-11
Cowboys projected record: 4-12
Maybe the Eagles get to 7-8-1 but I can’t see them doing better than that.
In any case, the Birds are in a decent spot as the return from the bye. It’s up to them to at least take care of business in the division.