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After the Philadelphia Eagles thoroughly destroyed the New York Giants on Sunday to became the NFL’s first team to clinch a playoff spot, coach Nick Sirianni sat down to give reporters his reaction about reaching the notable milestone.
“Oh, that’s nice,” Sirianni said without the slightest emotion. “We got way bigger goals and it’s on to the next one.”
Considering Sunday’s 48-22 victory, the next one would probably offer the Eagles their next potential victim as they remain on course for a date in Super Bowl LVII.
How else to put it when the Eagles are not only the class of the NFC but the only team in the conference that can be trusted?
Eagles Unimpressed With Playoff Spot
The Eagles, you’ll recall, started the season strong — with an 8-0 record that got the attention of the undefeated 1972 Dolphins. And they’ve gotten better since, amid one loss in 13 games.
The Eagles are rolling.
Their 48 points Sunday is the most since Sirianni became coach last season. It is actually the most this team has scored since 2017. And, checking the last three weeks when good teams have begun spooling up for the playoffs, this was Philly’s second 40-point outburst and third in a row at 35 points or more.
“Our best ball is starting to happen now,” defensive end Brandon Graham said.
That’s noteworthy because playing .923 football is impressive in its own right. But doing so in a conference with so many troubled, inconsistent, embattled and otherwise untrustworthy teams, makes the Eagles an almost certain pick for a trip to Phoenix in February.
No one in Philadelphia is saying this. Not publicly, anyway. Because it sounds outlandish.
But look at the landscape and what is seemingly ridiculous quickly comes into logical focus.
The Eagles (12-1) have a better record than any other team in the NFL and are two games better than any NFC team.
Eagles Better Than Cowboys, Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys, the NFC’s 10-3 contenders, would be the most logical problem for the Eagles.
But the Vikings lost to the emerging but nonetheless under .500 Lions on Sunday. They lost to the Lions after wasting a 425-yard passing performance by Kirk Cousins.
And the Vikings are just not dominant, having allowed more points than they’ve scored this season.
The Vikings are going to win the NFC North because everyone else in the division is either too young or too old. But endure in the playoffs? Nope.
The Cowboys improved their record to 10-3 with a victory over Houston. Sounds like a solid day’s work. But that win actually felt like something of a relief because the Texans outplayed Dallas much of the game.
The Texans have a 1-11-1 record after this loss but somehow had the quarterback who made fewer mistakes and the running back who gained the most yards. The Cowboys were a 17-point favorite but didn’t score their go-ahead touchdown until 41 remained in the game.
And, yes, the Cowboys ultimately won. But nothing about that one suggests this team is overtaking the Eagles.
The San Francisco 49ers, the NFC West leaders with an 9-4 record, seem like the only team truly capable of matching up against Philadelphia. They have the NFL’s best defense and no one argues that, not even Tom Brady who felt the San Francisco wrath Sunday.
But the 49ers are doing it with mirrors on offense. Rookie Brock Purdy is a wonderful story as the backup quarterback who took over for the backup quarterback. That makes Purdy someone to watch.
49ers Present Philly’s Strongest Challenge
But it also makes him a third-stringer who only made his first start on Sunday.
And regardless of Purdy’s impressive 2-TD pass performance, it says here that eventually defensive coordinators will get the goods on the rookie. Maybe not now. But it will happen.
And that’s the reason the only team that can displace the Eagles as the NFC’s best team is actually a team with a question mark at the most important position.
Following San Francisco’s 35-7 dismantling of the Buccaneers, the story from Brady and his team was familiar. Bucs players continued talking about correcting mistakes and getting better.
It’s the middle of December, fellas! If it is not fixed by now, it’s not going to get fixed.
So even if the Buccaneers win the weak NFC South, they feel like team about to make a quick postseason exit.
The Washington Commanders were on their bye over the weekend but they find themselves holding the No. 6 seed with a 7-5-1 record. They’ve won three of four games, with last week’s tie against the Giants being the only sort of blemish on their streak.
But like the 49ers, they’re barreling toward a reality check when journeyman quarterback Taylor Heinicke can no longer weave whatever magic he’s been conjuring since he took over for Carson Wentz.
And then we have the Giants. They’re the No. 7 seed now despite Sunday’s 26-point loss to the Eagles.
It’s not so much that loss that takes the shine off the Giants, but rather the fact they’re 1-4-1 in their last six games and seem to be regressing rather than progressing toward the postseason.
That leaves us with the Eagles. They have more talent, fewer injuries, better quarterback play, and more consistency than all the other NFC playoff contenders.
If they don’t end up in the Super Bowl, something weird happened.