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It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Eagles have proven they’re the NFC’s best

Stop saying the Eagles haven’t played anyone when the entire NFL is mediocre.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

No, the Philadelphia Eagles did not beat the Dallas Cowboys 44-6 last night.

It’s OK. It really is.

After jumping out to a 20-0 lead shortly before halftime, a Cowboys offense led by Cooper Rush, an aging Ezekiel Elliott and a rookie tight end named Jake Ferguson scored 17 unanswered points, making it 20-17.

It was frustrating to watch and, if your sphincter tightened a bit in real time, you were justified. But thanks to a long 4th quarter touchdown drive of their own and a clutch late interception, the Eagles made the plays that had to down the stretch and pulled away, winning 26-17.

The Cowboys came into the game 4-1, winners of four straight. Everyone acknowledged it would be a dog fight and, it was. As a result, the Eagles moved to 6-0, the only undefeated team in the NFL, and one of just four NFC teams with a winning record through six weeks.

In the days leading up to, and hours following their nine-point victory, the highly rational minds that populate Twitter (mostly bitter Dallas fans) began postulating that the undefeated Eagles haven’t really beaten anybody, that their 6-0 record was built on the backs of dregs, that they are frauds.

This week, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence indicated he didn’t think the Eagles and QB Jalen Hurts had proven anything to him yet, either.

Perhaps there was some truth to that, as the Cowboys possess one of the finest defenses in the game. Hurts hadn’t played them yet and it was fair to be skeptical until he had. That’s what made Sunday night’s match-up so interesting, as it featured a top-notch Dallas defense against a high-flying and ground-churning Eagles offense.

The notion that the Eagles haven’t played anyone, though, is clearly no longer valid. After all, in the NFC, do we even know who is good?

Only the Birds, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants and Cowboys have winning records. On Sunday, the Falcons stomped on the 49ers by two touchdowns. The Jets throttled Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in Green Bay. The Steelers stunned Tom Brady’s Bucs. The Rams handled the Panthers, but have struggled offensively for much of the season. All four teams are 3-3, as the Rams have been outscored by 22 points and Green Bay by 18.

There is no “standard bearer” for the Eagles to dispatch. Right now, they are the standard bearer.

Make no mistake, the Eagles beating Dallas last night, no matter how it looked, was of vital importance not only in the standings, but mentally. The Cowboys swept the Eagles last season (although the Week 18 blowout was meaningless and played entirely by the team’s backups), and over the last 20 meetings going back to 2012, the Eagles were 7-13 against them. Hurts had never beaten them as a starter.

If Dak Prescott had been under center last night, would things have been different? Maybe, but he wasn’t. Christmas Eve will certainly be interesting, provided these teams don’t suffer any catastrophic injuries along the way. One can only play the teams on their schedule and the Eagles scored 20 points in the first half on a defense that hadn’t given up 20 points in any single game this year.

Dak or no, that’s impressive. They also imposed their will on the Cowboys when they absolutely had to. That’s important.

In their only other prime time game this year, the Eagles throttled the Vikings 24-7. They shut down Justin Jefferson in “The Darius Slay Game,” where the all-world cornerback picked off two Kirk Cousins passes and Jalen Hurts put up 333 yards in the air with 3 TDs. It remains the Vikings’ only loss of the season so far.

Pretty good win, no?

The Eagles haven’t played the New York Giants yet, but they will in Week 14, at MetLife Stadium, as well as in Week 18, the final week of the season. After this week’s bye, the next month of the schedule should allow the Eagles to continue their quest for perfection.

They’ll beat the Steelers at home, they’ll go into Texas and handle the Texans, they’ll almost certainly crush a Washington Commanders team that could be without Carson Wentz, and the 3-2 Colts are a pretty vanilla team with not much going for them.

The Eagles’ next “big” test will be the Packers and Rodgers at home, but nothing we’ve seen from Green Bay indicates Philadelphia won’t be favored to win that game, nor the Titans game in Philly the following week.

If the Eagles were in the AFC, you would have some true measuring sticks, such as the Bills and Chiefs, but even that conference is filled with parity after those two squads. People are looking for a measuring stick the Eagles must reach and, this year, it may be them that’s the measuring stick.

The season is a long ways from over and a lot can happen, but as the Birds enter the bye week, they’ve done more than enough to earn the distinction of deserving the title as the NFL’s best.

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