The Red Sea is Parting For Eagles

In 1956, John Fulton won an Academy Award for "photographic effects" (better known nowadays as "special effects") pursuant to the sequence from The Ten Commandments in which he made the Red Sea appeared to part, allowing Moses (portrayed by Charlton Heston) to lead the Hebrews to escape the pursuing Egyptians (and the soon as all of the Hebrews had safely crossed, the sea re-closed, drowning the Egyptian soldiers and their chariots).

Since no corresponding award exists in the NFL, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni will have to be content with Coach of the Year, in addition to what appears to be increasingly likely to be the team's second Lombardi Trophy in six seasons.

And how has the Red Sea been parting for the Eagles?

For starters, the Eagles have played a .476 strength of schedule. (By comparison, Buffalo's opponents have won at a .533 clip.)

Not only that, but if Philly's slate is analyzed dynamically rather than statically, their schedule has been even softer because of key injuries to so many of their opponents at the time the Eagles played them.

That trend started on the very first week, when Jameson Williams, selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2022 draft, opened the season on Detroit's (Philadelphia's Week 1 opponent) reserve/non-football injury list — a rather odd classification because Williams was unable to play due to the ACL tear that he had suffered in his senior season at Alabama — not making his rookie debut until December 4, when he was held without a catch. However, this past Sunday, as if on cue, he had a 41-yard touchdown catch in the Lions' 34-23 "non-upset" of the Vikings — an outcome that (wouldn't you know!) greatly helped the Eagles in their quest for a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.

(The outcome also gave the Eagles a two-game lead over the entire remainder of the NFL — even though it is very likely that most of the power-ranking nerds still won't give them their due with the No. 1 ranking that they so obviously deserve.)

Four weeks later, the Eagles won at Arizona — where they had not won since 2001 — because of an injury to the Cardinals' kicker, Matt Prater, and then Matt Ammendola conveniently missed a 43-yard field goal attempt with 17 seconds remaining to preserve a 20-17 Philadelphia victory (Ammendola had been good from 20 yards out on the final play of the first half).

The very next week, the Eagles got to play an opponent — and their NFC East arch-rival at that — who just happened to be without their starting quarterback, as Cooper Rush, forced to deputize for the injured Dak Prescott, went 18 out of 38 for 181 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions, for a passer rating of 37.3, in a 26-17 loss to the Eagles.

How bad is a 37.3?

Had all of Rush's passes been incomplete, but he had also not thrown any interceptions either, his passer rating for the game would have been 39.6.

The most recent smoothing of the path to Super Bowl LVII from which the Eagles have benefited came in their game this past Sunday against the Giants: in that game, due to a neck injury, Saquon Barkley made a cameo appearance on a par with the ones that former New York City mayors Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg made in separate episodes of Law & Order. The result was 57 total yards gained by Giants running backs — including 28 by Barkley, on nine carries — in a 48-22 road victory by Philadelphia that was not even as close as the final score would suggest.

That win not only clinched a playoff berth for the now 12-1 Eagles, but at least the sixth seed therein (they had been the seventh seed last season). In order to raise the mathematical floor to the fifth seed, either the 49ers, down to a third-string quarterback, or the Seahawks would have had to lose their late-time-slot games — and while San Fran blew out Miami 35-7, Seattle was upset 30-24 by lowly Carolina at home.

With four weeks remaining in the regular season, still more "partings of the Red Sea" for the Eagles are quite possible.

Thanks to another Week 14 upset — Jacksonville's 36-22 upset of cratering Tennessee — the Jaguars now have real chances of claiming the AFC South title, and they host the Cowboys, who are 7-1 at home but a decidedly underwhelming 3-2 on the road, this coming Sunday (Dallas is also an even more underwhelming 4-12 on natural grass since 2018). Thus, if the Jags and Titans are only one game apart in the standings going into their season-ending tilt at TIAA Bank Field (it is so hard to keep up with these stadium names!), a Jacksonville victory would mean that they win the division.

And as if to add insult to injury, the Cowboys have to travel to Music City to take on the Titans the week before the Titans travel to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars. So there would appear to be at least one more Dallas loss in there somewhere, even if the Cowboys do beat the Eagles at Jerrah World on Christmas Eve — and speaking of injury, an already depleted Dallas offensive line took another major hit in the Houston game (in which they almost fell victim to what would have been the upset of the year) when tackle Terence Steele, who had started in all 13 games, sustained a torn ACL, ending his season.

Can you handle Jason Kelce dressing up as a Mummer at another Super Bowl victory parade?

You might very well have to.

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