Criticizing the Philadelphia Eagles’ strength of schedule is for the birds
By Matt Giraldi
The Philadelphia Eagles‘ strength of schedule is the last remaining criticism of a team playing exceptional football.
The Philadelphia Eagles are sitting atop the NFL with 10 wins and only one loss. Unfortunately, for some that just isn’t good enough. The crux of their argument centers on the Eagles’ strength of schedule. Is that the Eagles’ fault?
Sure, the Eagles have had it pretty easy. According to Pro Football Reference, the Eagles have had the fifth easiest schedule thus far. That’s dramatically different than prior to the season where they were predicted to have the most difficult schedule in the NFL. Their opponent tonight, the Seattle Seahawks, has had an easier schedule than the Eagles though. Of course, the Eagles are the ones with the bulls-eye on their backs this season. It does beg the question of how important strength of schedule truly is.
Here’s a quick look around the league at other teams.
Over the past decade, the team with the easiest strength of schedule has generally fared well during the regular season. The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl last year having the easiest schedule. The Carolina Panthers made the Super Bowl two years ago with the easiest schedule. So when people criticize the Eagles for attaining their success on the backs of inferior opponents, is it worth it to issue a rebuttal?
Is it the Eagles fault that the New York Giants have collapsed? It’s certainly not the Eagles’ fault that Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott received a six game suspension late in the year. Perhaps the Denver Broncos could have started someone other than Brock Osweiler at quarterback against the Eagles. Then again, their defense also could have prevented Carson Wentz from throwing four touchdowns.
Winning is all that matters.
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First and foremost, a win is a win. There are 16 games in the NFL regular season. Any given Sunday teams can struggle to execute their game plan. Every week upsets occur in the most peculiar of ways. For the Eagles, they’ve managed to avoid such hiccups, trap games, or playing down to their opponents.
Wins are one thing. How the Eagles are getting the aforementioned wins is pretty important too. They have scored 30 or more points in five straight games. The last three games have been decided by 28 points each. Consider this: The Cleveland Browns haven’t lost a single game by 28 points.
Adversity, as scarce as it has been, has been handled exceptionally well since the loss in Arrowhead. That can be attributed to head coach Doug Pederson, who is still teaching and still seeking perfection. The Eagles have also accomplished their goals despite suffering injuries at key positions. Rather than using it as an excuse, others have stepped up in their absence.
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Sunday night is of great importance.
Tonight’s game against the Seahawks is a litmus test, but failure doesn’t diminish what the Eagles have accomplished up to this point. The magic number for the division is still just one game. If the Eagles were to lose a game on this road trip, tonight’s game would be the best as it relates to tie-breakers. Of course, that would require the Seahawks to do something no team has done in two and a half months.
What can the Eagles do to extend that streak? The same thing they’ve done all season: Execute their game plan. So in essence, it is in fact the Eagles fault why they have such a low strength of schedule. They keep inflicting losses on their opponents. After tonight, the opponents of the Seahawks could be looking at a lower strength of schedule themselves.